By MH Staff - Posted on 4th March 2014
By understanding how the mind works, you can use it to achieve the results you want. But be careful, a challenge like the Death Race: Dying To Compete could sometimes be risky.
The psychologist Abraham Maslow who coined the hierarchy of needs concept divided needs into deficiency needs and being needs. The latter, Goodenough explains, is when you do something that stretches your capabilities. “They’re different from deficiency needs such as hunger or thirst – once you’ve had a meal, the hunger goes away and you don’t want to have another one,” he says. Being needs are different; they give meaning to lives. “But once you scratch the itch of meaning – that itchiness gets even bigger.” This might explain the bucket list attitude to some of the undeniably challenging mass-participatory events in South Africa. “People are looking for ways to raise the levels of their experience and their meaningfulness in their lives through their sport or recreation.”
Of the 16 000 people who run the Two Oceans Half Marathon, there are 16 000 different reasons for doing it – but many just want to push themselves, says Tucker. “You need to set goals,” advises Goodenough. “Where it’s a time or a number or something to aim for because that allows you to stretch.” Deciding how much you want to stretch is vital. “That means risk, it’s like driving a car: the faster you go, the more risk of crashing,” says Tucker.
“Don’t ask your body to do things that you’re not prepared to help it cope with,” warns Tucker. “You wouldn’t go sit outside on a freezing cold Joburg winter’s day with a T-shirt and shorts because it’s stress, right? Cold is stress, heat is stress, starvation is stress and exercise should be seen the same way. So don’t pick up a stressful load without the necessary diligence in your preparation. As long as you know what the task requires, you can prepare for it and that’s how you reduce the risk.”
Assess the different facets of your performance, instructs Goodenough. You need to rate yourself out of 10 in all aspects required for the task, and then find the people who are experts in those fields, he advises. “You don’t need to be an expert in those fields. All you have to do is find an expert and be an expert in your relationship with them.” “Ask yourself: who are the experts that can explain to me what the risks and what the pros and cons are?” Then go for a second opinion, he suggests.
“The meaning that you have in your life is a big indicator and drive of your performance,” says Goodenough, an expert in neuro-semantics, a psychological field centred on incorporating meaning into the body. “I want people to create a dream or a vision of what they’ll get from that performance that’s more than just a result, you do this by adding meaning to your goal. By turning a goal into a purpose you’re getting an extra level of energy in terms of a psychological and emotional kick from the experience, and that is the key to higher levels of performance.”
“Now when you’re training at 5am, you’re training for a purpose,” says Goodenough. “You’re not just training to run a race that you’ll celebrate in a year’s time at the finish line, you’re celebrating that today was a chance that you could live your dream which continues all the way to the finish line.” “If your only pay-off is for an hour or two after the finish line, you are limiting your performance,” he adds.
If you don’t prepare properly you’re taking away the value that you perceive in doing the activity, Tucker says. Last year, Tucker and five others summited Mount Kilimanjaro barefoot to raise money for Red Cross Children’s Hospital. He was constantly told about of the dangers of injury and frostbite. “If you plan, you minimise the risk until it’s actually not risky,” he says. “Sometimes we perceive people to be doing extreme things because we don’t understand that preparation reduced the risk.”
When you’re testing your limits, you need to be able to understand your body. “If you feel heart or chest pain after or during training, focus on the pain and interrogate it,” says Goodenough. “Literally ask yourself: What is the message behind this pain – is it danger pain or another type of pain? When you ask the body questions, it’s normally a slow answer – it may take around 20 seconds for an answer, and it may be a bit vague to start off with – but you’re starting to get a feel for what your body is actually speaking to you about.” “Once you’re aware then you pick up those signals,” Tucker says. “It doesn’t matter if the risk is one in 10 000 because if you’re that one in 10 000 you could be dead by the end of the day, therefore it’s not worth taking.” Most men don’t think to question and evaluate the body’s messages, says Goodenough. “It’s quite a macho thing to go through the pain, but it’s not that impressive if you’re going through danger pain and you’re tearing your calves in half.
“The this-is-my-only-chance mentality is very dangerous in this kind a thing because you stop paying attention to the danger signals if there are any,” say Goodenough. “You must realise the bigger victory is to look after yourself and get the best out of yourself, and that leads to having a healthier and longer life. “That’s more important than the bravado of saying, ‘I did it’ because maybe this is not your year or maybe you pushed your body too far too quickly and you need to take a step back and stay smart so next year you can do it and be even better.”