Athletes train so they can execute in competition physically. They also train to learn how to get out of their own way in their mindset.

This is teaching their wavering human character how to point in the right direction. Which side will show up on the day of competition: the steady and strong or the unnerved and fearful? Obviously the goal is to head in the positive direction. Here are three tips to help you increase the likelihood that you will be one of those lucky ones who can bring the best out and keep the other voices quiet.

Find Purpose Beyond A Result

Dream big, but also have purpose that addresses how you do the journey rather than the result at the end.

There is only going to be one person who wins a race or tops their age group. So what does that make everyone else? Losers? Certainly not! There is valor and value in a race well fought. There is satisfaction and fulfillment in taking the next step again and again even in the face of adverse moments. In face, a win can feel empty if you knew you didn’t give your best. A loss can be deeply impactful when you know you got out of your own way at every opportunity and stayed true to a purpose beyond the result.

For me that purpose beyond the result was to always give it my all rather than give up when things looked bad or were more difficult than I thought they would be. I tried to stay in the flow even if I was in a momentum that was a trickle. I kept focusing on making the next moment a bit better than the last even if both would never add up to achieving my big dream. And with that, no matter the time or the place at the end, the day was worth all the effort.

Find Quiet

Getting out of your own way is usually a bit of mental badminton. You get tossed a curve. Then something starts happening that was not in your ideal race day script. Next your mind starts to wander from focused to frazzled. The inner voices start sounding the alarms of death and doom telling you that your race now sucks.

That’s the time to hit the challenge back over the net. Quiet your mind. Take a deep breath and just let go of using judgment to assess whether your current situation is good or bad. Get your inner voice to be quiet so that you can refocus on the core task at hand, which at every point in the race is to go forward with as much speed and flow as possible.

You can practice this every day of your life, well in advance of the race. It’s a skill that will help you get out of your own way. Start by doing it in a quiet place. That’s easiest outside in nature. Our inner being is always more calm outside. Then find that feeling outside when you are training. And then find it when you are doing a tough workout. Ultimately you can then find that quiet in each of the many moments on race day when you get pulled away from it.

Show Up Fresh

When you start fresh the end result is usually incredible.

This might seem like a given. But unfortunately, a lot of people hit the start line of a race a bit tired. It’s easy to get so into the training rhythm that we lose sight of how much the effort is taking. It then reveals itself in the final prep for a race when you start resting and cutting back on training. But at that point it can be too late to recharge the batteries fully.

Getting out of your own way is much more difficult if you are tired.

Tired usually translates into an edgy mind that spirals into negative territory much easier than a fresh mind that handles challenges with steady focus. If you are rested and fresh, generally even the tough moments are met with the enthusiastic idea to just figure out how to get past them. When tired it can easily become a cynical mind that is thinking it is all a personal assault on you by the race.

Being fresh happens by honoring yourself, by getting everything you can out of your training and racing but also balancing that with rest and recovery. Going into a race fresh is one of the best safeguards to make sure you are getting out of your own way. It’s a near guarantee to be on track for great performances!

For more information on how to develop these three skills (finding purpose, finding quiet and being fresh) check out Fit Soul, Fit Body: 9-Keys To A Healthier, Happier You coauthored by Brant Secunda and Mark Allen. The 9-Keys all touch on these areas to help you have a solid mindset going into your races.

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About the author Mark Allen More information on the author

I am the Founder and CEO at Mark Allen Coaching. I am proud to have been voted in an ESPN global poll "The Greatest Endurance Athlete Of All Time." During my multi-sport career I won the Ironman Triathlon World Championship six time, the inaugural Triathlon World Championship at the Olympic Distance in Avignon, France, and at one point in my career I won 21 straight races across every derivation and distance. It was a great career, but that's all it would ever be unless I was able to share all of the experience and methodology we invented long before smart watches, power meters, and flashy uniforms. That's why I started Mark Allen Coaching, as a way to return to others at least the part of the gifts I received.