Mention ants to many people and they become wracked with horror.  Their mind filled by a nightmare vision. Caribbean pirates stake their hapless victim near a nest of fire ants; while they go after the golden hoard. This may be the product of my over vivid imagination, for which I really ought to seek treatment. If this didn’t instantly spring to mind, still hold this thought.

ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts) are those inner voices which torment all triathletes.  For example; it’s raining outside. You are starting to get ready for a training session, when you hear a ‘tap-tap’ on the inside of your skull. A little thought distracts you. It starts to place some convincing arguments for staying at home. Obviously, if you did venture out tonight your bike will get wet.  You will get cold.  There’s every chance of INJURY.  Bradley Wiggins wouldn’t go out in this weather, oh no, he would sit at home and listen to the Jam on a night this torrential.

Perhaps you see yourself as not very good riding up hills.  Maybe you can’t go down them very fast.  How many of you claim to be not too good at swimming?  Maybe you always find running difficult.  You can’t lose weight. You never go well when it’s windy. These are all statements I’ve heard … in my head.  You probably have your own small collection of ANTs.

The problem with these negative thoughts is they become reality.  Negative thoughts can make negative things happen.  They become self-fulfilling prophecy.  I convinced myself that I was hopeless at riding a bike.  It wasn’t too hard to find the evidence in my triathlon bike split times. As I laboured around on my bike, I became convinced that I would always be a bad biker. Now, I recognise these thoughts as ANTs.  My cycling was only poor because I didn’t train much on my bike. I convinced myself that I didn’t like cycling.

It was important for me to flip these negative thoughts? Now I believe that if I ride my bike more I’ll probably become a good performer. After all it only takes 22,000 miles of riding to become a great cyclist (see blog I haven’t yet written for the evidence). What’s stopping me? Only ANTs.  By tackling these negative thoughts I’ve learned to love cycling, turn it into a passion and I’m improving.

The first step is to freeing yourself from ANTs is to imagine instead the golden treasure that will soon be yours. Find yourself some CATs.

Change Your Brain, Change Your Body by Dr Daniel Amen … back to Qi Tri

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