Right now, human beings are capable of running a mile in under 4 minutes. This might not seem like a really big deal. We are used to hearing about runners achieving this amazing feat. Until 1954, however, most people thought it would be impossible. Roger Bannister was the first one to achieve this tremendous milestone. He did so by constantly visualizing his achievement. After he did it, several others followed suit.
I specialize in working with female pitchers. Even five years ago, throwing 60 mph was a really big achievement. It still is, but every year, my athletes throw harder and harder. Every year, more girls surpass the 60 mph mark and the bar is raised higher and higher.
A few days ago, I read an article that suggested that today’s athletes are not really that much better than the athletes in years past. It suggested that today’s athletes simply have better training, better equipment, better research, and better technology.
Of course, all of those things contribute to performance. When I consult with an athlete, we talk about their nutrition, recovery, kinematics, and training regimen. Even making small adjustments to these elements can make a huge difference.
So is it all about research, technology, and equipment, or is something else happening?
In one study, runners who thought they were being injected with EPO (a performance-enhancing drug) ran about 5 seconds per mile faster than the times they recorded without EPO. In reality, they were being injected with a saline solution. Even more interesting was the fact that those who expected to see greater improvements through use of the “performance-enhancing drug” did, while those who did not think the “drug” would improve their performance did not improve as much. Many participants in the study reported increased confidence with the placebo and an ability to push themselves near the breaking point.
Why is this important information for everyone, regardless of whether or not they are athletes?
Because all the aforementioned instances show the methods by which limitations become destroyed:
1. Suddenly, something that seemed completely inaccessible becomes accessible.
When people thought that the 4 minute mile was beyond human capabilities, no one could do it. Once people saw the possibility, it became more and more commonplace. 60 mph used to be rare for female pitchers, but now we see it with much greater frequency. When people whom you know personally are achieving these milestones, and not just to people on TV, you know that it is a very real possibility. The barrier is removed and you are able to realize your true capabilities. The runners taking the placebo thought they were hitting their limit before they were injected with EPO. Afterwards, they felt their limits expand. So, is it possible that the high tech equipment is helping us because we expect it to? Or are we expanding our consciousness and forcing our bodies to catch up?
2. There is a willingness for growth and exploring different avenues.
If an athlete has hit a physical limit, a willingness to try something like hypnosis, visualization, or meditation can still expand their capacity for explosiveness. Proper nutrition can improve endurance. Better recovery methods can allow them to train harder again sooner. The desire to grow and become educated about every little detail that will allow you to achieve your goals will smash your limits to pieces.
3. Limits are frequently a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If you don’t believe that, review the EPO study. The truth is that if you think that you can’t do it, you can’t. If you feel that something you are doing will really help you and allow you to grow, it will. Take the negativity away. You will find that you can do so much more.
As you can tell, this applies to more than just athletic performance.
Outstanding athletic performances serve as both a metaphor and inspiration for reaching previously unachievable goals in one’s life. Your goals might be financial, physical or spiritual, but there is always a road to achieving them. It just depends on how you set your inner GPS.
Most limitations are mentally self-imposed and can, with special, refocused effort, be overcome. Know exactly what it is that you want today. Create your action steps, and you will thereby create the person you want to be tomorrow.
Start seeing what you can really do when you take the word “can’t” out of your vocabulary.