Changing my Mind About a Few Things

With my first track events happening on 9 June, things feel like they’ve just upped a level. Entries are now open for the West Midlands Masters Championships in England, and this week I submitted my entries for both the 400m and 800m.

Got my spikes!

The race entry form asked for previous race times. Of course, I didn’t have any and felt a bit worried that they might reject my entry! In fact, I was so worried that I wrote to the race director to explain that these races would be my very first at this distance.

I needn’t have worried because I got a very friendly reply – and I’m definitely ‘in’. However, it seems to me that there’s a part of me that thinks I may be some kind of imposter…

Not sure about my racing pants, though 😉

I’ve been training diligently for the track events – physically, that is. Given my fears around actually being eligible to race, the dial for psychological preparations has just been turned up a notch or two!

I’ve been watching films and reading books and soaking up as much inspiration as I can. The following recent watches and reads have been both helpful and inspiring:

Eddie the Eagle (film) is the true story of Great Britain’s most famous ski jumper. In spite of the odds, he made it to the Olympics and set British records for both the 70m and 90m jumps. Although he came last, this didn’t matter. It was a huge achievement and he realised his dream. At first no one believed in Eddie except for Eddie, but he kept going in spite of the taunts of others ,the doors that slammed in his face and the lack of support from the British Olympic Committee. This film is a heart-warming lesson about the power of resilience, determination and self-belief. I’m definitely going to be more Eddie from now on!

Free Solo (film) is a documentary about Alex Honnold‘s free solo climb of El Capitan. It’s breath-taking, horrifying and awe-inspiring – and it offers fascinating insights  into the working of this extreme sportsman’s mind. People genuinely thought he was going to die climbing El Cap in this way. He believed he wouldn’t. His psychological preparations were thorough. He’s still alive – and he did it! (My takeaway? Preparation. Preparation. Preparation.)


Roger Bannister – Everest on the Track  is a BBC documentary (available to watch until 16 May) about how Bannister achieved the first sub-4-minute mile. Again, he believed it was possible when others didn’t – and planning was everything! As a result of his achievement, the Bannister Effect became a recognised phenomenon: that is, once the psychological barrier is broken (people see something is actually possible), many more people go on to achieve what was hitherto deemed to be impossible.

I think a Bannister Effect of sorts has had a part to play in my recent sporting adventures.  Not only did I surprise myself in the local 5k race, but I also achieved a personal record for the deadlift (part of my powerlifting adventure) last Friday. These achievements seemed to have opened up all sorts of possibilities for me and lifted psychological barriers that I probably had little conscious awareness of. My self-talk has definitely changed – and that’s helped to achieve another 3 personal records this week: one for the back squat, one for the bench press and one for the military press! The automatic voice in my head said ‘Come on! You can do this!’ (which actually took me by surprise the first time I heard it – and it made me smile 🙂 ).

Yesterday’s training included snatches and overhead squats. In the past, I’d be afraid of the bar, but yesterday I actually found myself talking to the bar as if it were my training partner. The voice in my head said ‘Come on! We can do this!’ (and we did 😉 ).

As for books, What Doesn’t Kill Us by Scott Carney has been a bit of a game-changer. Scott’s an investigative journalist with a scientific bent, who set out to debunk Wim Hof’s ‘Inner Fire’ method. Instead of discovering that the method was  flimflam, Scott experiences incredible change in his own physiology and goes on to achieve incredible things. The method is based on the three pillars of breathing, exposure to cold and mind-set (which is all about commitment) – and, of course, I’ve been giving it a go myself (it’s Day 10 here in the Big Wim Hof House 😉 )! If you want to have a go yourself, you can sign up to a free mini-course here.  I’ll write more about the Wim Hof method in the next blog post, but for now I’ll just say that taking cold showers has all sorts of unexpected positive side effects!

Having just finished Run Less, Run Faster I’m feeling more confident about my 3-runs-a-week plus-CrossFit-and-swimming regime. As a marathoner/ultra-runner, I was used to 6 days of running a week, so switching to 3 took a while to get my head around. (It’s worth noting, by the way, that the Run Less, Run Faster approach also requires additional days of cross-training – and it’s predicated on intensity, so if intensity is not your thing, look away now!) Now that I can see the approach is working, I’m looking forward to seeing where else this style of training can take me. I’m thinking about trying the 5K programme to see what happens when I actually train for the distance. Who knows, I might even run a cross-country winter season (which would be a whole new adventure) 😉 .

Right, then. I’ve just trained, so I’m off for a cold shower. After that, I’m going outside and I may be some time. (By the way, if you’re new to my blog, you can find more out about my #OldDogNewTricks project here.)

JT 😉