- Posted May 2, 2014 by
London, United Kingdom
Reflections on Boston, Marathons and the Power of Motivation
A couple of weeks have now passed. But the power of the emotion has remained deafening. On one special day, on 21 April 2014, a country stood united in defiance against the horrific bomb attacks of just a year earlier.
The emotion was evident throughout the field. From eventual winner Meb Keflezighi to countless other runners. Each with their own perspective; each with their own, sometimes harrowing, story to tell.
The motivation to achieve, to do your very best regardless of the pain and exhaustion, was never an issue. All runners that day had a clear and heartfelt motivation that couldn’t be ignored.
When runners in other races, in other countries, in years to come, toe the start of the marathon line, what will be the thing that motivates them? What will see them through the pain barrier that they know is without any shadow of a doubt on its way?
For the elite, the motivational answer is likely to lie in words. Self-talk, often in the form of mantras, that help them maintain their focus and push themselves to greater success.
This is no fad. Elite athlete’s reliance on such techniques is perfectly logical. It has been backed up by countless studies in the field of sports psychology. The conclusion typically reached is that self-talk does matter. And it can have a quite dramatic impact on sporting performance.
In the words of Peter Crocker, sports psychologist at the University of British Columbia: “it used to be that something had to be wrong for an athlete to consult a sports psychologist, now they do it to gain an edge.”
The approach is also becoming fairly widespread outside elite circles, as well. With increasing evidence of the power of self-talk in motivating runners, recreational athletes - across a wide spectrum of experience and ability - are increasingly realiant on the force that a few motivational words can have.
But, for many runners, what will drive them on in future will be something even more powerful. The memory of that tragic day 12 months ago. And, just as significantly, the memory of how a nation united in defiance twelve months on.