It takes pain to win

9 October 2015 10:09:06 AM NZDT

11 October 2015 


For professional athletes and cyclists, winning means pain.


Pain and suffering go along with every step and every pedal.

‘The more you suffer, the better you compete.’


For every second an Olympic gold medallist stands on the podium there have been hundreds of hours of training.


What can we learn from athletes who break the pain barrier to win?

To push themselves to the pain threshold and far beyond, athletes, especially marathon runners and cyclists, use a technique called ‘micro goal-setting’.


They break down the entire race into a series of goals, creating visual finishing lines in their minds. They set targets, each one within sight. One at a time they focus on reaching each goal.


There are four key qualities or ingredients in micro goal-setting:

It has to be challenging.
If you don’t ask much of yourself, you won’t give much. You want the goal to be as hard as you can mentally commit to – not unrealistic, but achievable.

It has to be specific.
A finishing line has to be a real and clear event. Not ‘My goal is to do my best.’ It must be tangible and explicit.

It has to be imminent.
Goals are more powerful when they are just ahead of you. You know how you get motivated just before a finishing line, so will you be motivated just before a self-imposed deadline. Shorten your timelines.

Know what you are racing to.
Athletes are rarely thinking how far they are from the starting line, but how close they are to the finish. When dealing with procrastination, replace your goal of ‘stop putting it off’ (an avoidance goal) with ‘start earlier’ (an approach goal).


Use micro goal-setting to bring motivation under your control. It will help you to deal with the dull, daily grind or to endure the competitive pain required for victory.


Source: Breaking the pain barrier, Piers Steel.

Posted in UBT Updates By

Erica Field