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Coaches Blog

Change Your Story

Updated: Jan 25, 2020

by Chris Palmquist

What is your story? By that I mean, what do you tell yourself and others about you? What do you say you like or not like? How do you describe what you do well or not so well?

This is important. I want you to be conscious of the story that you tell about yourself/others because that story has a direct impact on your actions, your health and your sport performance. Understand that you always have the power to change your story and that the results can be life-changing.

Here are some examples:

Weather Stories

We all know people who shut down in certain seasons. If your story includes “hating winter,” you might stay inside for 6 months a year here in Chicago. If your story is, “I don’t do well in heat/humidity,” you may stay inside all summer. That lack of fresh air and outside movement can deepen depression and lead to decreased health and fitness.

Change that story. Proclaim, “I love winter (or heat).” Go outside and repeat this sentence often. Then act on it. Acquire the right clothing for the season. Get a great hat for the winter and some fabulous shades for the summer. Find seasonal activities that will help you enjoy the season. Go snowshoeing in the winter and enjoy cycling or SUP on the hottest of days.

Skills Stories

“I can’t swim fast.” “I am a slow runner.” “I don’t swim open water.” “I can’t drink or eat calories during runs or races.” “I always start races too hard.” “I can’t ride/run hills.”

Change that story by saying, “I am improving my swimming.” Then, take swim lessons and get coaching help. Head to the track to improve running speed. Start practicing open water swimming with a supportive buddy. Consult with a sports dietician or coach to find a good way to fuel during training and races. Develop your RPE and practice pacing correctly for every type of race or interval. Hit the hills every week for 3-4 weeks and see how you improve with your running or riding hills. Change your story, act on it then make a former weakness your new strength.

Health Stories

“I cannot improve my body composition.” “I get too full if I fuel my endurance training/racing with enough healthy foods.” “I can’t control my cravings.” “I have bad knees.” “I am too old.” “There is no way for me to get enough sleep.” “I hate drinking water.” “I don’t have time to relax.”

Sometimes these stories are protective. If we believe our own story, we don’t have to take any risks. We don’t have to do the work of improving. But that work, and those risks are worth it! Start telling yourself, “I can improve my body composition” or “I can fuel myself well” or “I can control my cravings” and get help from a registered dietician and/or trainer. Bad knees? Find a PT or ortho specialist that knows that the latest research indicates that movement is best for our joints in most situations. Make sleep your new priority and set an alarm to remind you to go to bed each night. Set aside 5 minutes each day to sit and relax or do some stretching.

Is it as easy as re-writing your “story?”

Yes. I’m at the end of day two of a Dare2tri paratriathlon camp (photo above, credit: Sheri Rosenbaum) in Wisconsin. Tomorrow, 56 participants with physical and visual impairments will complete their first triathlon. I am privileged to witness as these people change their “story.” They have the courage to say, “I am going to be a triathlete” despite significant challenges. Then, they demonstrate the determination to act on their new story.

We all have stories that we believe about ourselves. Take a closer look at your stories. Which do you need to change?

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