Headsweats Ambassador Andrew Cohen-Wray shares his tips for staying cool under pressure. You can find this and other insights on his blog, Athlete in Mind.
As the saying goes, “keep a cool head, whilst all around others are losing theirs.” It’s a useful thing to be able to do, especially when competing or racing.
The idea for this blog came about when I was getting ready to race last Saturday, it was an extremely hot day which we werent prepared for as the heat was suddenly upon us after a cool day before. Us Brits always moan about the weather, it’s either too hot, too cold, too wet, too windy, but it’s the one thing as athletes we cant control. Whilst waiting near the start line going through my drills so I was ready to race, all I could hear from the other athletes were excuses. Most were complaining how hot it was and they had already told themsleves they were going to have a bad race. This is where #keepacoolhead came in useful. I had prepared the best I could have, I was hydrated, I had stayed out of the sun as long as possible exerting the minimal amount of effort pre-race, all I had to do was push my body hard for 7minutes.
How we talk to ourselves internally has a massive impact on how we race and perform, if the language is negative this will only drive a negative performance. It’s this negative language that is often then spoken to others and this was very apparent waiting on the start line ready to race. I could have got involved in these conversations but I opted to focus on what I had to do, rather than worry about others.
The only thing I could control that day was my own performance, I had put my body in the best possible place by being hydrated etc. Worrying about things out of my control is a big no no, worrying about my competitors, the weather etc is a pure waste of energy, energy I would need to get me round a 2000m steeplechase race in 32degrees at 15:40 in the afternoon.
As a Mental Performance Coach I have created a ‘Mind management’ tool called the ‘Running Reaper’ (www.runningreaper.co.uk) It is all around how that internal voice hijacks our training and performance, I teach athletes how to bring all that internal noise under control so they can focus on performing at their best with no distractions. Everbody has a voice inside their head and that is perfectly normal, the key thing is how to work with it, especially when the training and racing gets tough. If you fight the reaper it will win everytime, work with it and you will be amazed how much harder you can push yourself.