Friday, 30 May 2014

Head Quote

Always go out to be your best...

"When I go out and race, I'm not trying to beat opponents, I'm trying to beat what I have done... to beat myself, basically.  People find that hard to believe because we've had such a bias to always strive to win things.  If you win something and you haven't put everything into it, you haven't actually achieved anything at all.  When you've had to work hard for something and you've got the best you can out of yourself on that given day, that's where you get satisfaction from."

Ian Thorpe, Swimmer

Live, Laugh, Enjoy

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Head Quotes

As a tribute to Maya Angelou todays quotes is from her...

"If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be"

So for those of you taking part in European Aquathon Champs, Outlaw and whatever else you are all doing - go out and believe in being amazing.

Live, Laugh, Enjoy

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Expectation Vs Ability

There are those times that we raise our expectations and then realise we perhaps don’t have quite the ability to get our outcome and we then know what we need to do, learn or work on to achieve that outcome. Well what happens when it works the other way round?

I was racing the other day when my brain was telling me what I was capable of and the minutes per mile I 'should' be running. Training had been going well and I was going to feel happy to keep an even pace throughout the 10 miles.  Well one mile in and I’m feeling good and check the time and I’m nearly a minute quicker than I was planning.  ‘Oh dear – I’d better slow down or I’ll never last!’  So slow down I did, or so I thought and the next mile was a few seconds quicker than the first.  I felt fine and yet over the next 3 miles I continually told myself to slow down and that I would never last the distance, and yet I stayed within a couple of seconds of the time I had run the first mile.  I was supposed to be doing the first half slowly and seeing what I had left for the next couple of miles before upping the pace for the last couple.

But ability had other ideas and decided it didn’t care what expectation thought - it was going to run as it felt – not following a timetable and I decided a change of plan was needed and I would reverse what I was going to do and run the first half quicker and then I could slow up in the second half and still hit my expectations…..Ability had a good giggle at this and continued to run as it felt. At around mile 6 I decided it would be more helpful to stop arguing between expectation and ability – I could put the energy I was using up to much better use!

And so I continued on and enjoyed the fact that I was running better than I expected and congratulated myself on an excellent training plan for this year as taking it slowly and building back up from injury was most definitely working. I crossed the line 10 minutes quicker than expected.

One Nil to Ability!

A few days later was the first cross country race of the season and having run all three days from the race above to this one I was looking to run evenly and easily – and obviously expectation was putting some limits in - did my legs still feel heavy from the previous race? Had I recovered enough? Should I have run each day since…...? Luckily for me ability had an ally in that my friend Becs was running alongside (normally much faster and had done 20 miles the day before in preparation for the New York Marathon) and kept me going all the way round and I finished again much quicker than I expected especially for a cross country. So the stamina is there to keep going even on tired heavy legs and we even had enough for a sprint finish!!

Two Nil to Ability…..

My question now is how often do we let expectation talk ability out of performing and what would we achieve if we gave ability a free reign?

First published in October 2010

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Head Quote

"Just keep going.  Everybody gets better if they keep at it."
Ted Williams, Baseball

Sometimes we can feel like we're going backwards, sometimes we can feel like we've plateau'd, through all these we need to keep going and our bodies will catch up to where our minds want to go.

Live, Laugh, Enjoy

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Saturday Silliness

I just love this picture it always makes me laugh! Something to raise a smile for all those out training in the rain today!

Sometimes you love the lamp, sometimes you are the lamp...

Friday, 23 May 2014

Head Quotes

A little mind bender for a Friday - given to me by my good friend Richard Gilbert...

"If here was once there, where is there now..?"

Will give you all something to think about over the weekend ;-)

Live, Laugh, Enjoy

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Head Quotes

With some thunderstorms out there today (and we had hail a little earlier) how does the weather effect you and your training?

"In London, the weather would affect me negatively.  I react strongly to light.  If it is cloudy and raining, there are clouds and rain in my soul."
Jerzy Kosinski, Novalist

I personally struggle in the really hot weather, so no Marathon De Sables for me, and never run in lightening (well apart from two night runs last year at Thunder Run through the fields and forests) but I love running in the snow (The Polar Bear Challenge is on my list of like to do's...) especially if I'm the first one out and mine and the local wildlife are the only tracks on the trails.


Live, Laugh, Enjoy

Tuesday, 20 May 2014


In Your Head Sport is about helping us understand how the mind works so that we can use it to help us accomplish our sporting goals.  The article I am quoting below is not about sport.  It is about research with how the mind works with the body.

Now I doubt many of us will be going through the extreme stresses that those in the military do and the question I ask is does the body know the difference between stressful situations and therefore what can mindfulness give us all...?

 For the full and original article go to UC San Diago News Centre -

War and Peace (of Mind)
Meditation training may help reduce stress disorders among U.S. military personnel

Researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Navel Health Research Center have found that mindfulness training - a combination of meditation and body awareness exercises can help U.S. Marine Corps personnel prepare for and recover from stressful combat situations.

The bar graph shows that U.S. military personnel who received mindfulness training (red) had reduced activity in a region of the brain knowns as the insula, also known as the insular cortex, which acts as the brains connector strip.  Meditation appears to change how people's brains respond to and recover from highly stressful events.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Hot Tips

Some great tips from the Pro's!

Head Quotes

To get us all going on a Monday remember...

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do..." John Wooden, Basketball

As we've said before get our mind to focus on what we do want and it will find a way to deliver it.

Live, Laugh, Enjoy

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Saturday Silliness

Sometimes you have to put up with the A-hole and sometimes you are the A-hole...

Live, Laugh, Enjoy

Friday, 16 May 2014

Head Quote

As people begin to look to the summer and start planning their targets here are a few quotes to give you a reason to get your plans in place - mentally as well as physically!

He who fails to plan, plans to fail - Proverb

Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now - Alan Lakein

Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning - Thomas Edison

To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe - Anatole France

Good plans shape good decisions.  That's why good planning helps to make elusive dreams come true. - Anon

Live, Laugh, Enjoy

Thursday, 15 May 2014

How we process information

I was going to talk specifically about Visualisation this week but thought it might be useful to take a step back and understand a bit more about how our brains process information and then next week we can build on this. So basically...

Information is received to the brain using our five senses, sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell and how we process and use this information can affect our state, physiology and behaviour.  In order to make changes in how we communicate and understand others it is useful to understand an overview of how we as human beings make sense of the world around us and how we construct our own reality.

It is said that our brain receives anywhere between 2 million to 14 million bits of information through our senses every second.  Whichever figure is true it is a staggering amount of information and if we were to take it all in consciously it would drive us mad!  So what happens to all this information?  Well, according to memory theorist (George Miller), we can only consciously process 7 +/- 2 bits of information at any given moment.  So in the speed of a second, the mind has to compress (lets go for the bottom amount...) about 2 million bits of information down to 7 +/- 2 bits of information.

In order to make sense of this enormous difference (two million down to seven) our brain takes the information that is coming in through our senses and starts to delete it, distort it and generalise it by filtering it through our experiences, values, beliefs, physiology, etc.  This allows us to them make an internal representation of the world around us which makes sense to us and gives us a state of mind that can change our physiology and affects our behaviour.  All this happens in no particular order and only takes a fraction of a second and it means our language can affect our attitude just as easily as our physiology can affect our behaviours.

So what does this all mean - well the world we experience is not external to us it is the world we have created inside us - our own perception of reality.  As we all have different sets of filters (different experiences, values, beliefs, physiology etc.), we all have our own unique perception of the world.  This helps us explain how two people can be part of the same event, training etc and report completely different experiences of it. 

We need to be able to delete, distort and generalize the events we consciously take in, otherwise we would feel overloaded.  Another side to this is that our subconscious can take in 40 pieces of information and so it is always worth listening to your 'instincts' as this is normally coming from your subconscious which is using more information to reach a conclusion - however remember it has to still filter the information through your own filters!

A quick overview of what Delete, Distort and Generalise mean in this context.

Delete This is when we omit data or selectively pay attention to certain parts of our experience and not others.  Think of a time when you were so engage in a conversion with someone that you were unaware of other events going on around you.

Distort – This is when we can change the information around us to fit what we expect or believe.  Do you remember a time when you where looking for your keys and not seen them because they weren’t where we expected them to be.  Someone else helps you look for them and finds them instantly, ‘but I looked there’ we say not realising that we have experienced a distortion in our sensory information!

Generalise – This is when we put ideas, people or things into a convenient group or category.  We may generalise that all swans are white, until we come across Australian swans – which are black.

By making small changes to our thoughts (internal representation), our emotions (our state) and/or our body (physiology), you can make a big difference in your behaviour and therefore your outcome. 

You can change one or all three and start in any order.  They are all linked neurologically together.

Live, Laugh, Enjoy

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Head Quote

Today is PMA day

Positive Mental Attitude

The sun is out, the air is warming up, the birds are singing... sometimes we forget to stop and look around and see what makes us smile so do that now - what's bought a smile to your face today that you can remember and take with you into your next training session to bring a smile to your face when the going gets tough.

Live, Laugh, Enjoy

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Head Quote

Sticking with the theme of visualisation here is today's quote...

"When I was younger, I used to visualise myself scoring wonder goals, stuff like that."
Wayne Rooney

This weeks article will be about visualisation and how we can use it.  Building on from the Outcome thinking you all did last week ;-)

Live, Laugh, Enjoy

Monday, 12 May 2014

Head Quote

"If you're not looking to push forward, then in relative terms you go backwards"

Lord Digby Jones

Today's quote is from the world of business and there are many similarities between how we approach what we do in our work and what we do in our sport  - how does this quote relate to you in your sport?

Live, Laugh, Enjoy

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Head Quote

"I train myself mentally with visualisation. The morning of a tournament before I put my feet on the floor, I visualise myself making perfect runs with emphasis on technique, all the way through to what my personal best is in practice... The more you work with this type of visualisation, especially when you do it on a day-to-day basis, you'll actually begin to feel your muscles contracting at the appropriate times."

Camille Duvall, Waterskier

Visualisation is one of the most powerful techniques we have - I use it myself regularly in both sport and business, for example in order to practice my swimming without the pool I visualise how I want my arms to move, how the elbows come out of the water, where my hand goes into the water and the length of the stroke.  When I'm out running and feeling tired I visualise a race and think about the finish line and immediately my pace picks back up. 

Live, Laugh, Enjoy

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Saturday Silliness

For today's quotes and some Saturday Silliness I thought we would go to the very brilliant David Coleman, who for me was the voice of sport as I grew up!

"That's the fastest time ever run - but it's not as fast as the world record."

"Don't tell those coming in the final result of that fantastic match, but let's just have another look at Italy's winning goal."

"In a moment we hope to see the pole vault over the satellite."

"He is accelerating all the time. The last lap was run in 64 seconds and the one before that in 62."

"For those of you watching who do not have television sets, live commentary is on Radio 2."

Live, Laugh, Enjoy

Friday, 9 May 2014

Head Quote

Everything can be an AFLO moment!
(AFLO - Another F*cking Learning Opportunity)

Good training session or bad there is always something in it to take note of - we forget sometimes to remember what went well in a session and it's good to take a moment to think about what did go well, what did you notice, visualise it again and remember it to replicate it next time.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Outcome Thinking

What is Outcome Thinking?

The basics of successful Outcome thinking is essentially the stating of what we want in a certain situation that is positively stated and compelling.

Why is it useful?

How useful would it be to be able to get what you really want from your training, sport, life?  Outcome thinking enables this by getting us to be clear, precise and motivated about what we want from these things.

What makes for successful Outcome thinking?

We’re often great at telling ourselves what we don’t want….. ‘I don’t want to stop on that hill, I don't want this session to hurt, I don' want, I don't want (you can fill in your own blanks!)  The problem with these messages is that in order to ‘not do’ something our minds have to come up with a representation of doing them.  For example, don’t think of a flying pig.  OK try another, don’t think about what you last ate...  Tricky…  so, you’ve given your subconscious a representation of the very thing you don’t want… and so it cleverly goes off and finds this for you….. and that is all you see or do.

Similarly, if you think about what you do want your subconscious makes a representation of it and starts to look for it and recognise it.  So, if you want to achieve an outcome it needs to be stated in a ‘what I want is…..’ way.  This is called ‘Towards’ thinking whilst the ‘I don’t want…’ is called ‘Away from’ thinking.

Away from can be very useful when you need to get out of a situation that is causing you harm/discomfort.  The problem is that if you stay with away from thinking you will probably end up moving to something similar, or if you’re lucky it will be better than the situation you were in.  However, it will rarely represent what you really want.

Toward thinking gives you a sense of direction or travel.  And, the more detailed and compelling you make your representation of it the more likely you are to achieve it.  Really step in and visualise what you can see, hear and feel when you have achieved your outcome.

Energy flows where attention goes.

Attention follows intention

Live, Laugh, Enjoy

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Head Quote

'You feel proud to wear the national jersey and almost like you cannot hide in races. I like a little bit of extra pressure and feeling like I need to do my jersey justice.'

Lizzie Armitstead, Cycling

As the Womens Tour starts today I though a quote from one of our top cyclists would be in order and I think at whatever level you compete at pulling on your club colours does give you a boost and makes you want to step up to the mark and give everything you've got.  Especially those events which are solitary by nature - you know you are in a team.

Live, Laugh, Enjoy

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Head Quote

Exercise to stimulate not annihilate.  The world wasn't formed in a day and neither were we. Set small goals and build upon them.
Lee Haney, Athlete

Sometimes we get so caught up in the big 'stuff' (a technical term there) that we forget the small steps and achievements we have taken to get where we are.  Take a moment to realise how far you have come already and then what your next small step is to your goal.  If it was easy enough to get there immediately then you would have done it by now.  I always like to think of my goals as 'Challengingly Achieveable' - hard work but I get there!

Live, Laugh, Enjoy

Monday, 5 May 2014

Warming Up

There's no such thing as the wrong weather, just the wrong clothes!

As the warm weather starts remember now is the time to get out the sun cream, glasses and hats while you're taking part in your sport.  And remember to take on board water.  If you're racing and its a choice between drinking the water or putting it over your head always go for drinking it!!

Live, Laugh, Enjoy

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Happy Star Wars Day

Do or do not. There is no try

May the fourth be with you :-)

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Saturday Silliness

A bit of silliness for the weekend - not all exercise (and quotes) have to be intense and full of meaning...

I exercise every morning without fail.  One eyelid goes up and the other follows...
Pete Postlethwaite

Friday, 2 May 2014

Head Quote

You have to train your mind like you train your body
Bruce Jenner, Athletics

Sometimes it's the obvious that we forget - what are you going to do today to train your mind?  A good place to start is to actually know what's going on in your head - if you normally take little notice of what you are thinking when you are training take some time today to listen to those voices in your head (we all have them).  Are they helping you or hindering you?

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Welcome to In Your Head Sport

This blog and community has been set up to give everyone, whatever their level of Sport encouragement, advice, humour and perhaps the occasional kick up the bum to challenge themselves and be the best they can.

The name comes from a quote by Cletis 'Clete' Bayer from Baseball who said about top level Baseball

'The thing about the game at this level is that there is very little difference in physical skills between players - the real difference between them is upstairs.  It is what's in your head that makes the difference'

Whatever level we are at what we think is where the difference lies in getting up and doing the next session, following the training plan, racing strong and being healthy.

So what's on offer...

This Blog

Through the blog I will be posting up articles I have written, some that I have found that are interesting or funny.  I am going to ask people from different sports and different areas of sport to write guest blogs.  If you have a story about a race or a challenge that you would like included then I am also happy to post it here as well for everyone to share.

The articles will be both about the physical side of sport and as you would expect from a blog called 'In Your Head Sport' the mental side of sport.

If there is a particular article you would like to see or a piece of research you want to know more about then let me know.  If it's about sport both mental and physical then I'm interested!!

Goals and Challenges - Monthly events

Every month there will be an opportunity to take part in a challenge and create your own goal to achieve that month.

Motivational challenge - what over the next month is going to challenge your motivation, this can range to holidays, weather, visiting friends etc - anything that for you might get in the way... Lovely so you've thought about what might challenge you, however, my challenge to you is that you have to come up with 3 things that you can do that will help you with that particular challenge, it might be having a mantra, asking for help, anything - and you always have number 4 as a given - do nothing... Doing nothing is a deliberate choice, not just something that happens!

Monthly challenge - every month I will post up a physical challenge for you to take part it and take it to the level that works for you as a beginner, intermediate or advance sports person - Remember that you may have been involved in sport for a while but some of the challenges you may not have done for a long time and therefore always start at the easiest level and build up.

Monthly Goal - what do you want to achieve this month - be it take part in a specific race, train for X times in a week, feel good - it's your goal and no-one else's.

Daily Motivation - Every day I will post a quote or picture to help our thinking for that day - they will come from sport, life, business and will make us think, laugh, roll our eyes... take from them what you want.

Where is this all happening!

Apart from this blog then take your pick - Facebook and Google + will have everything on and Twitter will post links everyday as well.

Live, Laugh, Enjoy