You’ve been pounding the pavement for weeks if not months in preparation. Honing your body and figuring out all the details like the right hydration and nutrition on the day. Maybe you’ve run a few test events in the run up. You’ve spent hours training, put off social engagements and neglected friends and loved ones in the lead up to the London Marathon.
So, how do you guarantee that you’ll perform your best on the day? How do you make sure that all the hard work doesn’t amount to disappointment? How do you avoid the “if only” feeling of missing out on the target you’ve set yourself?
The five points of performance
Well, I decided to consult James Parris of Parris Performance Coaching to get his take on success. James is a Performance and Behavioural Change Specialist.
Having coached Elite sport for over 15 years, the ONE thing that James found that works is a model called the 5 Points of Performance. It’s a simple model you can use for your sporting endeavours and anything else in your life you want to succeed at.
The 5 points are – circumstance, thoughts, feelings, actions and results.
Usually, people focus on the circumstance they find themselves in, which is generally NOT what they want. This leads to negative thoughts, which in turn makes them feel bad in some way. Feeling bad means that they don’t take the right actions and that leads to a poor result.
What works is to focus on the results you want and reverse engineer a way of getting there.
You’ve heard it said a million times that you can’t change the circumstances you find yourself in. Only by getting the results you want will you find yourself in the circumstances you wish to have.
You’ve also heard it often said that you need to set goals if you want to achieve something. This is exactly right, but often it’s left at just that, a big hairy, lofty goal. Very few people think to actually engineer the steps to make their way to hitting the goal. Break it down into smaller bite size pieces.
So, let’s draw a line under the circumstance you find yourself in during the Marathon and set it to one side. Now, let’s work the model backwards from the results you want.
Use all the standard goal setting tools you’ve previously heard about be it SMART (Specific, Measured, Achievable, Realistic and Timed), or which ever. Now write the goal out as if you have already achieved it, beginning with “I am”, or “I have”. Like this – I have run the London Marathon in a time of 3 hours and 55 minutes. I did this by running 9 minute miles, drinking a cup of water every 5 miles and having a gel every hour.
Now you need to make this into a Daily Declaration which you repeat to yourself every morning and evening in the lead up to the race.
Now you can move onto the exact actions you need to achieve the result you want. You want to map this out in minute detail. A great way of doing that is by using the Escape and Arrival framework.
This maps out the thing you want to Escape from – the current personal best you want to beat or maybe it’s ‘not having run a marathon’ – and marks out the exact steps you need to take in order to Arrive at the thing you want – a specific new personal best or ‘having run a marathon’. Along the way you write out the keystones you need to act on in order to progress to the next. I’ll give you a silly example – Escape from having an untied shoe lace and Arrive at having a tied shoe lace.
First keystone would be to check that you’ve got the shoes on the correct feet. Next keystone, pick a shoe to tie – left or right. Next take a lace in each hand. Next place the left lace over the top of the right lace. Next, tuck the bottom lace under the top and pull through. Next, make a loop with the left end and squeeze tight at the bottom. Next, wrap the right end around the loop where you’re holding it. Next… you get the picture!
You can even take each keystone and map out an Escape and Arrival for that as well. This gives you the exact map for your perfect marathon and will stop you procrastinating in the run up and during the race. Most people procrastinate either because the don’t know where to start or because they get lost half way through and don’t know what to do next.
The Escape and Arrival framework takes both of these ambiguities away.
Just having your progress and the race plan mapped out in front of you will likely make you feel much better about performing on the day.
However, if you’re still feeling a little anxious, try some Super Suggestion. Super Suggestion works a little like post hypnotic suggestion, in that you place the feeling you want into your mind during a period of relaxation.
It’s been scientifically proven that if, when you feel nervous, you say three words to yourself – “I am excited” – your performance will be better. Super Suggestion can implant feelings of excitement into your mind when you need them.
Sit in a cool, calm location which is nice and quiet. Close your eyes and in your head count down from 20 to 1, then say “let go” whilst feeling all the tension drain out of each and every muscle in your body. Whilst in this relaxed state, breath steadily and repeat the feeling you want to implant over to yourself. Try to stay like this as long as you can, nice and relaxed, repeating the word to yourself. When you feel like you’ve had enough, simply count back up from 1 to 20 and then open your eyes. It doesn’t matter if you’ve done 2 minutes or 20 minutes like this, you will have implanted the feeling into your mind.
Actually, I need to clarify this as Self Talk. Your internal monologue. You need to develop a positive self talk if you want to keep in the right frame of mind to be able to execute the Actions.
Post hypnotic suggestion can work the other way as well, negative self talk leads to negative feelings. Which lead to poor actions. Pay attention to the negative self talk you have about your training, racing or the London Marathon specifically. Note them down whenever you have a moment of negative self talk and read it back to yourself aloud. Listen to how irrational it sounds when doing this.
You must eradicate your negative self talk. Put yourself up or shut up.
There you have it, your performance for the London marathon mapped out using the 5 Points of Performance. Take some time to work the model through and don’t leave anything out.
Good luck on the day from James Parris and our team of therapists at Physio on the River!
If you would like to contact James Parris for more information on how he can help with sports performance please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to make a Physiotherapy appointment for a marathon injury then please call the clinic on 020 8876 5690 or email us here.