Self-talk—repeating a phrase in your head—is a practical, proven strategy to push your limits
Sound training can take you only so far. To fully express every last bit of fitness on race day, you must push past perceived barriers and keep going when your body is telling you to stop. Talk to world-class endurance athletes about how they manage this, and many will tell you they listen to the voice inside their heads. That may sound a little crazy, but there’s fascinating new research being done on self-talk—the act of repeating a mantra to yourself—that backs it up.
A 2014 study published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, aptly titled “Talking Yourself Out of Exhaustion,” found that simply repeating a mantra reduced perceived effort and increased performance in a time-to-exhaustion cycling test. Self-talk was also cited as a strategy with strong evidence in a 2015 Sports Medicinereview paper on the “psychological determinants of whole-body performance.”