Positive Self-Talk: Inside the Heads of America's Top Triathletes

As is with most things, when it comes to positive thinking, practice makes perfect. In the same way we can get stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts, we can also train our brains to deploy an upbeat attitude. While a more optimistic frame of mind will generally give you a sunnier outlook on life, research has shown it can also boost endurance performance.

One study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that when young swimmers were given guidance on how to implement positive self-talk during competition, they saw significant performance improvements over a control group who received no such instruction. Another study with cyclists showed that motivational self-talk not only reduced an athlete's perceived exertion, it also enhanced endurance performance. Demonstrating similar results, yet another study published in the International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology that included collegiate cross-country runners discovered that instruction in positive self-talk helped improve performance in a 1-mile time trial.

While the evidence is clear in lab situations, most triathletes have experienced the power of positive thinking in real world conditions. To be sure, in the same way negative thoughts can hamper performance, positive ones can bolster it. We chatted with a group of pros about what type of self-talk they rely on during competition. Their practices may help you during your next race.

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