Mental Training

Athletic performance is not just about physical prowess. You need to have the mental game as well. Some of the best athletes in the world aren’t the most talented – they’re the most determined. Achieving athletic goals is much easier when your mind and spirit are in the right place. Here are a few tried and true tips to keep yourself on your mental toes.

Constant Reminders

One of the most effective psychological practices to achieve a goal is a constant reminder of that goal. For example, let’s say your goal is to finish your next Ironman under 11 hours. Write “11:00” on a piece of paper and tape it up in on your bathroom mirror. Every morning, you’ll be reminded of your goal. You’ll have to face yourself when thinking about it. Only you can do the work necessary to achieve that goal.

Positive Affirmation

Create positive energy by telling yourself you can do things. Ask, “How can I?” rather than say “I can’t.” Focus on all the positive aspects of a situation. Remind yourself of all the skills you are a master of, and all the talents you do have. If you have a hard workout coming up, view it as a great challenge rather than a tedious chore.

Mental Toughness

If a training session is going wrong, work on your mental game. Tell yourself how tough you are, and how you can overcome this temporary physical discomfort. Get into the habit of being uncomfortable and pressing your boundaries. If you really want to achieve some break-through performances, you will need to push yourself in training – physically and mentally.

Positive People

It’s true – surrounding yourself with positive people who support your goals will make you a happier, less-stressed person. Avoid folks who cloud the path to your goal. Some people are unable to look on the bright side. Don’t try to change them. Just avoid them.


It’s very helpful to take a few minutes each day and see yourself achieving your goal. Run through every part of a race. See how you’ll respond in different situations. Envision possible scenarios. Always see yourself coming out on top, whatever obstacle is thrown in your way. Finish each visualization session with a run-through of your most positive scenario, from beginning to end. Always see success. Seeing it will make it that much easier to achieve it.

Reward Yourself

When you find yourself sticking to your plan, being positive, and meeting your interim milestones, be good to yourself! Do something fun. Go for a dinner with your friends or loved ones. Buy yourself a treat. Every highly motivated person needs let the steam out once in a while.

Small Steps

The name of this company is One Step Beyond. That’s because I believe any achievement is a series of incremental steps. No winner ever arrived at the finish line without a long, long journey prior to starting. Your goal, whatever it may be, will only be achieved one step at a time. Exist in the moment. While it’s great to step back and see the big picture, your actions right now are what make big things happen. What are you doing right now to achieve your goal? Only by taking action – through training, lifestyle, diet, recovery, and planning – will you arrive at the finish line knowing you took your performance one step beyond.

Marty Gaal - December 2006