Under Pressure, because you care… but learn how to Relax!

16 Oct

When you keep your eyes and ears open you learn. When you have an open mind and progressive thinking you can take things that seem like they would not apply to you but yet when you really think about it they do.

Today’s world is not really that much different than the past but it seems more and more there is such a heightened pressure put on us and we put on ourselves. I read an article yesterday about the 2016 Chicago Cubs (which by the way I’m a huge Cubs fan!) and Joe Madden talked about pressure and expectations and how the 2016 Cubs have had so much pressure and expectations put on them to break the curses of old and make the World Series. Joe talked about how that is positive and a good thing in his mind but you have to know how you embrace that pressure and use it. Like manager Madden said do you want to enter the season being picked to be 5th and no expectations no real goals for the team? Or do you want to enter the season with goals, with some expectations that you are good enough to perform and succeed.

I see this type of pressure a lot with athletes I coach and with high school athletes. (the high school part comes from my daughter running high school cross country and the massive amounts of pressure put on these young girls to perform I also coach some younger athletes and see this same type of pressure) As a coach working with adults mostly I have many people want to train and qualify for Boston marathon. They work hard, they train hard, they do all they can to prepare for that goal. The pressure of chasing that goal and the obsession and focus that comes with it can be good that it makes them stay dedicated and focused. However come race day that pressure can be a bit of a negative if they don’t know how to handle it properly.

That pressure can bring on a sense of nerves, and a lot of extra mental energy that does not need to be wasted. The athlete can focus so much on not screwing up that they forget to relax and just go run, just go believe in them and perform as they are capable of. This is where the “pressure” the “Expectations” becomes a negative because that energy is not channeled properly by the athlete.  Now not everyone is wired this way. I can say from my own experience that I put pressure on myself to perform, I put expectations on my season and expect to perform at a certain level and I can handle this just fine because I can still roll into a race and be relaxed, be focused and go do my job and perform with the guts I need to chase that goal and succeed.

Setting expectations for yourself is much easier when you have confidence and believe in yourself you believe you belong and can compete with those around you. And when you have that level of confidence and belief in yourself then the pressure that comes with those expectations is much easier to handle and the athlete often times can focus, stay calm and go out and perform at a high level as expected of them.  But if the athlete lacks that confidence that believe in themselves (even if they are very much capable of performing at a high level and coaches and parents around them pump them up and tell them they are strong and capable and prepared to reach those goals and success) if the athlete does not buy into that then a massive negative affect can happen and the pressure put on that athlete to perform at a certain level can end up in disaster and having that athlete perform way below expectations.

The main theme here is that as an athlete as a person you have to be confident and you must believe in yourself! If you don’t believe in yourself if you are not willing to let go relax and go out and push your limits then no matter how fit you are, not matter how much coach or someone else tells you that you are strong and ready and tries to fire you up you must likely will underperform and thus fail.  Every person is different and some people look at others around them being positive and telling them they can perform a certain way and telling them go out and kick butt today you can do it! That athlete might look at that kind of encouragement as pressure! And then in the heat of competition clam up and in essence quit when things get tough because they don’t run relaxed and loose with a free spirit so to speak.

When I have athletes like this I try and calm them, tell them to stop thinking and just look at the race like it’s a workout. I mean the athlete can go out in practice and crush it run, bike, swim the paces they need to in order to perform at that high level but come race day they just flat out clam up and because of the pressure and expectations they can’t perform.  Another thing that happens when an athlete can’t handle pressure is they can’t eat, they can’t fuel their body properly and this becomes a huge issues also because even if they try to relax and just get into the heat of competition that day and give a effort they can’t because the body is not fueled properly and thus the body revolts on them and just runs out of energy leaving the athlete performing below expectations again.

There will always be pressure and expectations put on you, athletes will always have that demand to perform and chase and reach goals. The question to you is “How will you handle that pressure” how will you respond to the expectations put on and that you put on yourself. Because it is a positive and a good thing to have those expectations put on you, it is a good thing to have coaches, friends, family believe in you and set those expectations because the expectations mean that you are good you can very capable of obtaining those goals and having that success. You as the athlete just have to learn how to deal with the pressure that comes with that and how to stay calm, relaxed and go perform with no nerves just pure excitement and love of sport.

So which type of person are you going to be? One with confidence and believe in themselves and can except the pressures and expectations that come with being an athlete and yet rise above the nerves and fears and still perform at goal level.

Or will you be the athlete that lacks confidence, does not believe they belong, lets the pressure mount so much that they clam up that they don’t fuel their body properly and thus leaves them always performing way below potential never reaching those goals and always feeling sad and unfulfilled.

Confidence is everything! And all an athlete needs is one good moment, one good race to break that lack of confidence that fear to make them believe in themselves again and then propel to many great performances and success!

So find your confidence, just breathe, relax and chill out. Act like no expectations you are just going for a workout and get lose on race day. and try to shrug off the extra weight that comes when you have expectations. You do that most likely you will find that you have the race of your life!

I tell runners you just have to glide, to float run free enjoy the moment. Sure when you are racing and pushing limits for these goals you will hurt, you will have pain and you will suffer so just welcome those feelings push through them and always BELIEVE!! That pain you feel during the race will only last for a short time, but the glory and feeling you will have if you push through it and succeed will last forever! So think long term! J

Happy Racing! Happy training and build that confidence!


Coach MB



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