Mindset - Little Voices, Big Gains
Written by Reece Reynolds
The timer finally beeps. You drop your barbell as the sound of bumper plates hitting the ground echos in a chorus around the room. It’s done. You hit the ground and try to regain some sense of clarity, just like everyone else whom you have volunteered to suffer with.
A feeling, that, if you’re reading this, you’re probably somewhat familiar with. Whilst you high five, fist bump and scoop yourself up from the floor, that addictive sense of achievement we sets in. You’ve done it; you stuck it out even when it was tough. You’re proud, not only of yourself but everyone that dragged themselves through it with you.
Now maybe as that jubilation subsides, the internal conversation begins. “Did I work hard enough?” - “Could I of RX’d that?”. That conversation you have with yourself, where does it come from?
I want you to think back to the last time you struggled through a work out or training session. The last time you thought you were going to have to stop or you might “actually die”. What were you saying to yourself whilst going through that? What did your mantra sound like? Quite often it's that little voice in our heads telling us we’ve had enough, or we can’t do anymore that slows us down, not our physical ability. But is it important to try and address this voice from within?
Yes.. Yes.. Yes.. I don’t believe the importance of recognising how you talk to yourself can be understated. Not only does it affect your training but over time it can affect how we perceive ourselves and the world around us.
That conversation you have is also known as your internal dialogue. It's the the little voice in your head that can sometimes or often feel like it controls you. I'm going to let you in on a little secret - it doesn’t. You control the voice. And with a little time and practice you can make that little voice a powerfully positive ally.
Understanding that we can and having the conviction to try and change that internal dialogue is hard work. But hard work pays off. If we put consistent time and effort into addressing our internal dialogue we're going to begin seeing improvements further than the walls of the gym. But lets start inside the gym:
4 x 400m runs for time. Run number 3, about 200m in what is that voice saying?
For some of us this might change depending on the day - bad day, feeling some of that negative emotion, “Just stop - this hurts, it doesn’t matter if you slow down you don’t care anyway”
For others it might be the internal pressure of competition “You have to pass him” - “Don’t slow down now you’ve got to win”
What if by recognising how we talk to ourselves we can start to change the narrative. We can begin to control that internal dialogue.
Now this might not be easy, or come naturally but I promise, like with your fitness, if you start and commit it will only get easier.
Start with simple positive affirmations. “You have got this” - “You can push harder” - “You are strong enough”
From there everyones journey is slightly different - Whatever your reasons for turning up and busting your ass week in week out are yours and yours alone. So whatever your goals may include;
I want you to remind yourself of that when it gets hard. Because no matter what your goals, the only way to achieve them is through long term, consistent commitment to your training. And it’s going to be so much easier to stay consistently committed, if you attack every day with that more positive mindset. That internal dialogue shouting “You’ve got this” is going to get you infinitely further than “whats the point”.
A quick chat with yourself isn’t going to take you from 1 to 15 unbroken muscle ups in a session (trust me I’ve tried). What it will do is strengthen your grit, your ability to dig deep and to get the best out of every day. Eventually those 15 unbroken muscle ups, that first strict pull up, those goals you’ve been chasing; they will come. Because you have the strength to keep going.
But the results don’t stop there, the best thing about CrossFit is its functionality. The exercises we do carry over to outside of the gym; Deadlift - pick the shopping up; Push press - getting your bag in that overhead locker; Wallball - throwing your niece in the air.
Training your internal dialogue is no different. Big presentation coming up? “You’ve got this”. Kids playing up “Breathe, be positive”. It’s all part and parcel of how we deal with challenges and adversity in all aspects of life. Whether for you thats ‘Fran’ or a job interview, honing the skill and strength to control your internal dialogue will carry over and help you achieve more than you thought you were capable of. And we are all capable of more.
About the Author: Reece Reynolds is health and fitness enthusiast. Reece holds the CFL1 (CrossFit Level 1 Certification) and coaches regularly at MettaBox CrossFit Droitwich. He's passionate about living a healthy, happy, fulfilling life and likes to help others do the same when he's not custom building motorbikes or travelling around the world.