The mindset of an endurance athlete – explained

As most of you are aware, at Maximise Potential we are seeking to understand the mindset and approach of what drives people to success within their chosen discipline.

I recently interviewed Endurance Athelete, Andy North (Max#31), who is about to embark on the ‘sunshine challenge’ where he will run a total of 25 marathons and cycle over 1,500 miles within the period of 42 days.

Within the interview Andy gave us an amazing insight into the mental techniques he applies to prepare (and complete) challenges like this.

After posing some discussions on Linked IN, regarding Andy approach, I received a very interesting reply from Greg Layton, High Performance Coach and Founder of InteViva:

“I thought I’d share a couple of things. I work with quite a few professional athletes including ultra marathoners in Melbourne, Australia and have done quite a bit of training and work directly with John Grinder. Together, with the likes of Chris Collingwood and Ian Snape in Aus we are exploring some of the key physiological triggers that allow athletes to stay in the zone (safely) for long periods.

Recently, I worked with Samantha Gash after meeting her when I was competing in The Atacama Crossing. (250km ultra in the desert in Chile). We were able to elicit some of the key attributes of her high performance state. Probably the most common component I have seen with ultra runners is that they tend to run in a slightly dissociated state, i.e. they are outside their own bodies (3rd position).

The main triggers for this have been a combination of the following with the athletes that I have worked with and in my own personal experience when battling 40 knot, 45 degree headwinds across salt flats. 1. Some part of the body goes completely slack as if disconnected from the body – hands, jaw most common, a particular rhythm that comes from their step cadence and a softening of the vision to more open.

I find that athletes in different sports require very different high performance states. We’ve been playing with rhythm in particular as a particlar trigger and I use it in sports and also in Exec Coaching as the trigger for my state in that context. Real powerful…an easy test is to play some different music and what how the rhythm of the music changes your state.

I’ve trained a number of athletes in how to access these states and maintain them for long periods. Often using the “Lifeline” pattern (setup unconscious signal system and get the unconscious to control maintaining the state unless there is something calls into question the athletes well being. )

Anyway, its interesting stuff.

Good luck with the ultra guys in the UK.”

Excellent insight Greg – thank you so much!

About the Author

Hi, I'm Tom Burkinshaw, I co-produce the Maximise Your Potential Podcast and Website and my goal is to help as many people as possible be successful in life, careers and business, by offering free coaching and mentoring through a series of unique interviews from inspiring people who all display exceptional self-belief, mental toughness and desire to achieve. Thank you for taking the time to visit Maximise Your Potential!