By Christina | July 19, 2009
Two days ago, riders succeeded in getting the temporary ban on earpieces lifted in the Tour De France. Riders rely on earpieces to communicate with their teammates, but the earpieces were suddenly banned in order “to spice up the Tour” according to race officials. Riders like Lance Armstrong, who up until then was making a strong comeback in race, were visibly affected by the ban.
The question is whether the communication that the earpieces provided was vital to the athletic performance of the riders or whether the earpieces were almost like mental security blankets in which the riders knew that they were there when needed. I am sure that the earpieces on the Tour undeniably served many important purposes which is why the ban has now been lifted. But, what is interesting to note about this story, is how the rule change midway in the race really messed with all of the riders’ psyches and negatively affected their rides.
Mind over matter sounds cliché, but the difference between a champion and a non-champion is who can demonstrate mental toughness when the going gets rough and things are not going as planned. You don’t need to be a rider in the Tour de France to experience the battle between your mind and your body when it comes to exercise.
I know when it comes time to run my marathon that I will be physically prepared to run it. By the time the race arrives, I will have run the necessary miles in my training to ensure that I am capable of completing the race. Unfortunately, physical preparedness is only one part of the equation. There will be runners who are less prepared physically than me, but who may finish the marathon more successfully because of their mental state. If I trip myself up mentally come race day, it won’t matter how prepared I was ahead of time to run the race. I will not succeed. The mind and the body have to be in sync when it comes to achieving your fitness goals.
There are many tricks you can play on yourself to win the mental game when it comes to exercise. First and foremost, your mantra has to be ‘I will succeed.’ Belief in your ability to persevere ,even when every inch of your body wants to throw in the towel, is just as critical as your body’s physical ability to keep on going. Second, and this is going to seem strange, give yourself permission to quit ahead of time at some distinct point in your exercise routine if you need to. For example, if you barely dragged yourself out the door to exercise, make a deal with yourself that you have permission to quit after 15 minutes. The truth is you will probably end up going for the full duration of your exercise routine because you gave yourself this permission to quit ahead of time. The first 10-15 minutes are the worst part of any exercise. Once you’ve passed that hump and went to all of the trouble to exercise in the first place, continuing past the time allotment you set for yourself is not difficult. In this same vain, if you are running and you feel like you can’t run another step, tell yourself that in 10 minutes you can stop no matter where you are or how far you’ve run.
Anybody can endure any amount of discomfort if they know there is an end in sight. Maybe Lance Armstrong and the other riders wouldn’t have been so tripped up by the loss of their earpieces if they knew ahead of time that the ban was only temporary. For athletic success, you have to be physically strong, but your mind has to be even stronger.