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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Mental Side of Performance

Mental focus, attitude, desire, nerves, doubt, belief... How much do these things play a role in performance?

Roger Bannister was the first person to officially run a mile in under 4 minutes.  At the time it was widely believed the 4 minute barrier could not be broken.  It was thought to be either physically impossible or hazardous to your health.  Many runners tried to be the first to break the 4 minute barrier but came up short.  In 1954 Roger Bannister was the first to break the 4 minute barrier with a time of 3:59.4.  Soon after, it seemed, everybody who once failed to achieve the feat was now breaking the 4 minute barrier.  Bannister's world record was broken 5 times within the next decade.

It was once believed women could not physically run a marathon.  They did not have the physical capacity to complete the distance or their reproductive organs would be permanently damaged.  It wasn't until the 1960's women first officially competed in marathons.  Now there are thousands of women marathon participants every year.

What stopped people from breaking the 4 minute mile barrier?  What stopped women from competing in marathons?  What stops a person from performing a situp, a pullup, a pushup, a 405lb deadlift, a 225lb clean & Jerk...?

Doubt!  Doubt in yourself; doubt in others.  Yes, physical capacity is a big factor in performance, but mental capacity is just as, if not more, important.  Having the belief a task can be achieved is the most important aspect of performance.  You will never accomplish something if you don't believe it can be done.

I recently set a PR (Personal Record) in the Clean & Jerk.  In the past few months I failed many times to get 225lbs over my head.  I finally accomplished the task at the end of a 20 minute workout which involved rope climbs and many clean & jerks at increasing loads.

How is it possible for me to accomplish this feat at the end of a long workout, fatigued and tired, when I failed getting this weight over head when 100% rested?  On this attempt I did not allow my mind to stop me.  In previous attempts I let nerves and doubt hinder my performance.  At the end of this workout my mind was clear.  I took a few seconds to catch my breath after my last rope climb, then grabbed the bar and went.  No thought process, just aggression!  What was once an impossible weight for me to get over head now felt easy!

Don't let doubt enter your mind when trying to accomplish something.  Whether it is in the gym, at work, or in your personal life.  Believing you can accomplish something is powerful!


Great post! You are the most determined and hard working man I know. Keep it up because I cannot wait to cheer you on at the Crossfit Regionals!!

I read this and think "I love you Mikey!"

Congrats Mike, i hope they allow a lot of fans at the crossfit regional, your going to have a big cheering section!

Actually you might want to start playing loud crowd music during your workouts (like the pros do) to get use to all the noise we're going to bring:)

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