Building a quiet confident mindset, with no ego, a present mind, and an ability to see what you want to achieve ahead of time is what highly successful athletes do naturally.
I used this approach myself to become Ironman World champion in 2012.
Hi it is Pete here. As a Performance Coach I needed to create this video after speaking with a few of my clients. They voiced a lack of confidence in their ability to execute a race coming up. Everyone deserves to optimise their training so it shows on race day.
Any athlete, of any level, can do what the best athletes in the world do. I explain how you can train your mind and body with simple techniques to allow for optimal performance, happiness, and health. I share how the mind, body, and breath are linked to performance through building a confident, quiet mindset, and a relaxed powerful body.
There are many layers to the connections and influence between each – mind, breath, and body.
What is clear and simple is that they DO react to one another, so the more control and awareness you have over each will result in an optimum positive influence and response.
Lack of awareness and control of mind, body, or breath will result in:
1. Increased tension
2. Drops in performance
3. Increasing fatigue
4. Sub optimal recovery
5. Less accuracy, and
6. Increased risk of injury
I specifically share my World Championship winning performance strategies below:
1. Practicing visualisation of the outcome he wanted.
2. Practicing a grateful and present mindset.
3. Controlling ego.
4. Creating his own story. And
5. Changing the perceived effort and input of what he was experiencing.
These strategies resulted with a win in Hawaii, the easiest race I have executed in my career (including 35 Ironman distance triathlons and countless Half Ironman distances over 2 decades).
Here is the DRAFT of what I spoke about, it’s really rough, but there’s a few things in here which I did not mention in the video. So it’s like a behind the scenes bonus, directors cut ?
Breathing, anxiety, quiet confidence, controlled calmness, relaxed & powerful mind & body.
The week before the Ironman World Championships I was lucky to be in a position to be asked publicly, how I felt.
I say lucky, because only in those interview situations, when you feel obliged to provide an insight and open up, do we say out loud what we truly feel. And if our intentions align with our instinct you can feel it deep in your heart when you say it out loud with conviction to a room full of people and cameras.
If nothing more, a coach is there for this moment. To ask you what you believe you can achieve if everything goes in your favour. If you have the confidence to back yourself, and your body follows your mind, where will it take you? What would that look like?
For a moment now, picture where you want to be, achieving what you want to achieve, and let that picture sink in to your memories and become as real as anything else in your memory.
That is where you build your quiet confidence from.
Quiet confidence is the ability to be present, without ego, and yet have confidence to “feel and see” what is about to happen.
It starts with the ability to visualise what you want, while in a calm relaxed state.
And that’s the key. You need to be relaxed, present with a quiet mind, quiet ego, and not carrying fears or doubts or worries. Quiet your mind and see nothing except the achievement you are wanting.
And I say “wanting”, because believing is not enough. You have to want it. Believing you will one day work your way up the corporate ladder, or believing one day you will win a world title, that is not enough. If you don’t want it, there is less chance of it happening, no matter how much you believe it to be your destiny.
One example is Michael Jordan “why would I think about missing a shot I haven’t taken yet?”. I think he was asked, “do you think about what will happen if you miss the shot?”. Of course he never thinks about missing a shot. He sees the shot going into the basket every single time as he releases the ball. He sees how it will arc through the air, if it’s going to hit the backboard or not, and then he releases it, all in a split second.
He had quiet confidence as he let go of the ball, and never feared or doubted the outcome.
Seeing where the ball is going is also about making the decisions he needs to make for the shot to go in. He’s not just throwing it in the direction of the basket hoping it hits something and ends up through the net – like most of us who never play basketball, if we were to play a game at regular speed.
However if I were to take a free throw, and had time, I’d use this technique to visualise the shot I want to achieve… And I’d still miss most of the shots because my ability to use my arm to throw a ball is not what I expect it to be. My expectations don’t match my ability.
Golfers are an example of using both techniques. They have the time to see multiple shots landing in their mind, choose one, then work out the distance to that spot specifically, check the wind, choose a club etc. But as they swing, they see that shot happening a split second ahead of them physically performing the shot, just like Jordan.
If you ever play golf, try this, particularly when close to or on the putting green when power of the club connecting and the balls speed makes a big difference, or when serving in tennis. Take time to visualise a few different outcomes in slow motion, choose one, and then picture it in super speed as you swing.
But what about swimming riding and running?
The quiet confidence in athletics comes from training your body to do exactly what you want it to do on race day. That means you have to get really familiar with the physical and emotional feedback you will encounter on race day. And you do this by going to the point of physical and mental fatigue or pain likely to happen on race day and building strategies to deal with it.
And the best strategy is to quiet your mind. Remove ego that brings doubts or fears, thoughts of how hard, hot, or far it is, or takes your mind from the present, leading to poor decisions.
So how do we achieve this relaxed and present state of mind and body to build our quiet confidence from? And how do we tap into that state when the pressure, stress, emotions, and fatigue build up. Some might call it being in the zone, or flow state.
To describe this flow state, I would say it is when physical or mental discomfort is so strong, that an overpowering force of complete presence of mind is needed to silence the discomfort, which is so strong it allows the body and mind a state of relaxation and therefore a flow of energy and ability we are rarely able to tap in to.
But let’s take it back a few notches, down to a level most of us can relate to in our chosen sport in a regular training session or a race, where anxieties and doubts may appear, and tension and over-control may limit our ability and power.
The mind controls our output. Our ability to move our muscles. The quieter our mind, the more relaxed, fluid, powerful, fast and accurate our movements will be.
Having confidence cancels out the doubts and fears.
A quiet mind prevents us from feeling more stress than we need.
A relaxed body allows more power speed and accuracy.
Our breath helps connect our awareness between mind and body.
Practicing, building, and then staying aware and connected between mind and body is key to an optimal performance.
Rapid shallow breath makes the mind perceive more stress. More perceived stress will tense the physical body.
Perceived stress will tense the body and the breath.
Tension in the body will increase perceived stress change breathing pattern.
Tense your shoulders, breath into your upper chest in short breaths.
Now breathe into your belly in long slow breaths and feel your shoulders and mind relax.
One aspect of mind body or breath cannot be separated from the others. They all effect one another, and all three need to stay in your awareness, and you need to be the one connecting and controlling them.
Roger Federer does this well.
Nose breathing, always calm mind, not showing any thoughts lingering from previous points, and present, so he can see every single shot clearly the split second before it happens.
Let’s take you to swim squad, or the running track, and you’ve been told to do a max effort sprint. As you get ready to start your mind probably starts building tension, it starts to say “this is going to be hard for me”, your body tenses slightly, and your emotional state changes as you start to sprint and begin calculating if you are going fast enough, faster than the next person, how long can you go this fast for? When can I stop? And then you stop.
And tell yourself you’ve just done a stressful max effort and should breathe rapidly into your chest and let your mind tell you how hard that was and how tired you know are…
All of that is wrong. Or I could say, none of the story above exists unless you made it exist.
There’s no need for tension before the effort, mental or physical. There’s no need to compare or analyse yourself during the effort. And there is definitely no need to finish an effort and tell yourself you’ve done a hard effort.
Practicing quietening your mind in those moments is practicing for life, for a race, for a day in your future that is physically and/or mentally harder than anything you experience for 99.9% of your life.
Sure you CAN train with tension, train with the mind telling the body telling the breath telling the mind that things are hard and you should respond with everything you’ve got – your sympathetic nervous system, your hormones, your ego, your craving for fuel you believe will help you physically but really will only change your perception, your craving for more oxygen so you breathe harder and faster which actually only lowers the oxygen getting to your body and stops the adaption you are trying to get of tolerance to carbon dioxide, and all the time each action you allow to happen feeds into the next response, into another action.
But training this way only builds your ego. All those responses lower the effect and adaptation your training is having on your mind and body by you allowing the expected responses to happen.
Imagine finishing a max effort, swim, bike, run, gym, whatever, and you control your breathing as best you can, you stand with strong, relaxed posture, and you act completely normal as if nothing happened, and your mind is not aware of anything having just happened, and there is no sign that anyone else can see to show you did an effort, and in fact you look happier and more relaxed than ever! MY GOD, people will think you aren’t even trying! And there lies one of the big problems. What people think. What people expect. If you aren’t breathing heavy with a wide open mouth and hunched over with head dropped and crying out for a Gatorade what will people think!
One of the reasons I like doing key sessions on my own, and most sessions in the lead up to kona for a couple of podium years.. (although I had a mate on the windtrainer in 2011, but that doesn’t’ count because he never rode away from me, no matter how much slower I went).
Training solo makes it easier, Staying connected, taking breaks when I needed to, pushing when I felt like it, and it’s easier to keep ego quiet, to be present, not comparing yourself, not doubting yourself. Always building quiet confidence, not undermining it with ego.
And I’ve mentioned the extra power and speed when you are relaxed physically and mentally.
So what can you do for maximum adaptation? To build quiet confidence, practice being in the moment with no ego, and gaining control of your mind and body so when you when those events come, when you need to push through the pain and discomfort, you can.?
Well I’ve already mentioned it. But let’s clarify.
No emotional change
You should not change emotional tension between resting to an effort. You should be calm and relaxed in the car at the traffic lights, and calm and relaxed when you are about to start an effort, and calm and relaxed when you are doing the effort, and calm and relaxed when you finish the effort.
Control your breath
Breath through your nose as much as possible, and return to nose breathing as soon as possible. Controlling your breathing is only possible if you calm your mind and body.
A busy mind full of your ego will not allow a return to controlled slower breathing.
Tension in your body will inhibit power speed and accuracy, and be a catalyst for tension in breath and mind, and the cycle will continue to build.
It’s different. When you live in the present, and remove ego, there is less talk, to yourself or others, about how hard you trained, and how tired you now are. It’s not cool to forget about the past and sit there and feel fine, to be calm and have relaxed breathing, to have a relaxed happy face and body.
There are so many things we do that are driven by ego, that don’t exist, and we carry the tension for much longer than we need to, which is almost never. If you are in control of your body and mind, it only takes a few moments of rest to recover, to be calm again. It’s you who chooses how long you walk around looking tired.
Your muscles can be tired, and sore, but that’s not YOU. Your muscles are not your mindset, they don’t dictate your ego.
A quote from another blog I wrote about RPE and Exercise.
“Your goal is always to become more aware, while at the same time thinking less.
A quiet mind is more aware of the present.
A relaxed mind and body becomes more aware of the feedback from one another, and can be altered in tiny increments easily and constantly over and over as feedback is felt, such is the control and connection that comes through practicing being present.”
Yours in performance,
Performance Coach | Motivational Speaker