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Your Performing Edge: Top 10 Tips
by JoAnn Dahlkoetter, Ph.D.


Power Imagery:

Visualization is not something you do only in the quiet of your bedroom. Use your mental images throughout the workout to create feelings of speed and power. (e.g., When you come to an unexpected hill visualize a magnet pulling you effortlessly to the top).

Positive Attitude:

Use everything in the workout to your advantage. For example, if another athlete passes you, tuck in behind and go with his or her energy for as long as possible. You may catch a “second wind” and be carried on to a new personal record.


Practice being in the present moment. Remind yourself to stay in the here and now. Let past and future events fade into the background.

Short-term Goals:

Focus on your immediate target. Break your training down into small, manageable pieces and begin to focus only on the first portion, not the entire workout (e.g., Say to yourself: “I’m just relaxing and getting my rhythm during the first mile”).


Pay close attention to your tension level and training form. Do a body scan while working out and relax your tight muscles frequently. Ask yourself: “Are my shoulders and neck relaxed; how does this pace feel; how much energy is left in my legs?”

Pain Manangement:

If you have “good pain” that is not seriously damaging your body, just shift attention to your breathing or cadence of movement, and let the discomfort fade into the background. You can also use the pain as feedback. Register it not as pain but as effort level. Say: “Now I know exactly how hard I’m working. I know how this pace feels. My body is doing what it should be doing.”

Process Not Outcome:

Look only at what you need to do right now (e.g., pace, breathing, concentration); your final time, place, or score will take care of itself.

Focused Attention:

Be aware of distractions. Breathe out unwanted thoughts with your next exhale and re-focus your attention instantly on what is important.


Make positive self-statements continually. Negative thinking is quite common; everyone has an inner critic. Become aware of these thoughts early on. Don’t fight with them; simply acknowledge their presence, and then substitute a positive affirmation. (e.g., When you’re thinking: “This hurts too much, I want to lie down and die”; say to yourself: “This feeling is connected with going faster and doing my absolute best”).


Celebrate your fitness and strength. When the competition arrives, let your body do what you’ve trained it to do. Remember that your goals are realistic. All you need to do is perform up to your capabilities.


The Author

Your Performing Edge

JoAnn Dahlkoetter, Ph.D., best-selling author of Your Performing Edge, is an internationally recognized sports psychologist, past winner of the San Francisco Marathon and 2nd in the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon. For your FREE NEWSLETTER with valuable training tips and helpful articles, or for your autographed book visit Dr. Dahlkoetter provides coaching by phone for optimal mind-body performance. For information, email, or call 650-654-5500.

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Copyright 2002 by JoAnn Dahlkoetter. All rights reserved.

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