Coaching Corner: Write Your Story
Katie Mackey is 30-years old. She’s been a professional runner for 8 years. She had never made a world championship team but had finished in the dreaded just-one place short spot on numerous occasions. Close, but no cigar, was the theme of Mackey’s career.
At the recent USA indoor championships, it looked like another brutal near miss was in store. On the final lap, pre-race favorite Shelby Houlihan had begun to pull away. Mackey was battling with meter steeplechase world-champion, Emma Coburn, and you couldn’t but feel she’d finish 3rd, with only the top 2 individuals qualifying for the world championships. Even Mackey felt this way, detailing a brief intrusive thought of ‘oh no, here we go again,’ as they entered the final lap. Yet, in a last-ditch effort, Mackey inched passed Coburn and held on to claim 2nd place.
In her post-race interview, Mackey detailed the power of advice she had received for Dan Pfaff, a renowned coach at Altis. After listening to Mackey’s struggles he said that it sounded like her negative self-talk was a novel, and her positive self-talk was more of an outline. With that insight, Mackey went about changing her story.
Far too often, regardless of the pursuit, we let our negative inner dialogue ramble on and on. We allow our self to write chapter after chapter of detailed analysis, highlighting why we should fail, and rationalizing why we should give up or stop trying. Yet, our positive talk is often superficial, a platitude. We might say “I’m prepared” or “Think of all the work I’ve put in.” When faced with a highly detailed rationalization for why we should fail, is it any wonder that our negative side often wins the battle?
The story we tell ourselves helps shape how we see the world. But, we often give little thought to how we can control and shape that story. Regardless of the endeavor, you are pursuing, perhaps it’s time to write your own novel, of why you can instead of why you can’t.
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