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Are You Feeding Your Athlete or Your Monster?

Since I’m an RDN (Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist), you probably think I’m talking about food, right? I mean, “feeding” usually implies eating. I’m actually referring to that other meaning of “feed” that means to encourage, facilitate, or nurture.

So, do you feed your athlete? You know, the little one that sits on your shoulder, reminding you how powerful and strong you are, and how awesome you’ll do in your upcoming race, how much fun its going to be and that you’re going to feel great during and after the race because you are READY for this. It’s this athlete that encourages you to push a little harder and keep going when things get rough because you’ve GOT THIS. It’s also this athlete that reminds you to turn challenges or obstacles into OPPORTUNITIES. Who finds the positive no matter what.

Or perhaps you are more familiar with the little monster on your other shoulder, and this is the one you feed most. Your monster sits on your shoulder, constantly telling you about the mistakes you made last time you raced, or how awful the conditions will be this time, or how terrible you’re going to feel if you don’t race well and that everyone will wonder “What happened?” It’s this monster that tells you to go ahead and slow down because it doesn’t really matter anyway, you aren’t going to win anything or PR. This monster reminds you of every failure you’ve ever experienced and continually brings up the “What if’s?” and worries. This monster just LOVES to dwell on the negative. Because after all, we have to be REALISTIC.

So, which athlete are you feeding? Because that’s the one that you’re going to hear above all else on race day. And it will COMPLETELY decide how things go for you when it matters. You will fulfill whatever it is that you tell yourself. And, for whatever reason, we LOVE to feed our monsters and starve our athletes.

The good news is this: feed your athlete (and starve your monster), and you will hear your athlete when you need him or her most.

How to do this…..

1. Stay in the present with what is happening at the moment you are experiencing it. No worrying about the future or dwelling on the past.

2. Create a series of short mission/vision/affirmation statements that describe what you want to achieve or how you want feel AS IF ITS ALREADY TRUE. Example: “I am a relaxed, confident swimmer and I feel strong and fast and completely comfortable when I race.”

3. Write a race report that fully describes everything in detail that you want to happen in your next race and how it went. Read it to yourself many times.

4. Keep a file of all your accomplishments: letters, cards, pictures, etc that remind you of all the things you’ve successfully accomplished. Look at the this file when you are doubting yourself: past success = future success.

5. Visualize and FEEL how racing well will go. Focus only on WHAT YOU WANT to happen.

Let me know what happens…..


P.S. I’ve been reading a great book by Carrie Cheadle, “On Top of Your Game: Mental Skills to Maximize Your Athletic Performance.” She’s the one who describes the athlete and the monster and what to do about them.

PPS. The athlete and monster analogy are very similar to a great Native American metaphor that my yoga teacher and coach shared this week about the 2 wolves that live within each of us. You can read the metaphor here.

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