Here is a wonderful and well written example of how therapy can improve athletic performance. https://www.ultrarunning.com/featured/a-way-cool-race/
Self talk and mental health play a large role in athletic performance. Most athletes have a natural ability to push themselves but not all athletes know how to encourage themselves. In my experience as an athlete and a therapist, I have seen how the mind can work to make or break a race. So what is the answer?
The first step is to acknowledge that the mind and body are not two separate areas. They are deeply connected parts of you and they both inform your experience.
The second is to look at your self talk. It is one thing to improve your self talk and begin to be more kind to yourself. It is a whole other undertaking to reorient yourself around this new self perspective enough that in the most exhausting, hungry, and depleted state you can maintain this positive perspective. The article shared above, while it’s a great outline of her success, glosses over the hard work to get to that point. It isn’t just about replacing negative thoughts it is resetting your default. If your default setting sounds like “I really messed that up” or “I am so slow” it takes some insight and self understanding to change to a new default that sounds more like “that isn’t like me, I know I can do better,” or “not as fast as I want to be but getting there.”
I often describe it to clients in terms of fuel. Negative self talk can be like gasoline on a fire. It will explode at first but it will also burn out quickly. Positive self talk and high regard for oneself is a much longer lasting fuel. It spreads to all areas of life and increases performance for the long haul.
Don’t burn out, find a new fuel.