You've no doubt heard of "The Power of Positive Thinking," one of the many pop-psychology manuals to grace bookstore shelves.
Me, I've been waiting for years for "The Power of Negative Thinking," or something of that ilk. You know, how mulling over the worst-case scenario and obsessing about the difficulty of a task actually helps you?
At last, my patience has been rewarded (only because I figured it never would happen; see how negativity helps?).
Matt Fitzgerald, one of the top running writers in the biz, has a post on competitor.com today extolling the virtues of negative thinking ... at least when it comes to running.
Veering away from the "positive visualization" mentra in vogue in sports psychology, Fitzgerald suggests that runners who are realistic in their race expectations, runners who know there will be pain and discomfort and expect it, have a much better chance of working through the problems that inevitably crop up during a race.
Here's an excerpt:
"If you expect your race goal to be achieved relatively easily, you are likely to find yourself suffering more than expected in the race, and this nasty surprise will trigger a performance-limiting loss of will that you are powerless to consciously override ...
"(W)idely recommended techniques such as visualizing yourself performing perfectly in races and feeling supremely awesome while doing it may actually hinder performance instead of helping it, because they may send you into races with unrealistic expectations. Going into races with confidence in your ability to achieve your goals is a good thing, because true confidence is inherently realistic. But going into races expecting to feel any better than wretched in pursuit of maximum performance is a form of self-sabotage."