Alongside a very inspiring 25,000 other runners, with a Halloween nightmare of a hangover and poorly equipped with 4 hours sleep, yesterday I ran the Great South Run for the fifth time.

Also running yesterday was an inspiring student of mine Claire Lincoln. Claire completed the run, it was the furthest she had ever run and she triumphed. The reason I mention Claire here is that not only did she hold herself publicly accountable for her goal (her brilliant blog of her progress can be read here: Claire Lincoln Running For My Life ), not only did she train well, keep herself driven and motivated, applied her mind to the task as well as her legs, she had belief!

She believed that she was going to complete the run. She texted me after the run and one of the things she said in that was “struggled near the end but wasn’t going to walk unless my legs broke” – hahahahaha, I love that sort of determination. Beyond that determination though is a belief that presupposes she is capable of doing that and getting to the end without walking.

Congratulations Claire, you are indeed an inspiration to many and I look forward to running alongside you sometime in the future too.

Beliefs fuel runners a great deal.

Many clients of mine (including many runners) have beliefs that are holding them back from achieving their desired outcomes.

My very first therapist said something to me that I have written about many times before in the past, in mid conversation he said “well Adam, whatever you believe to be the truth, is the truth for you…” As he carried on talking, a lightbulb switched on in my head and stuck with me ever since.

A favourite author of mine, the late Robert Anton Wilson wrote in Prometheus Rising “what the thinker thinks, the prover proves” meaning that we think a thought and then filter reality to match that thought and thus prove it to be the truth for us. Beliefs do this filtering job incredibly well for us, but not always the most accurately or the most beneficially.

First, We Want to Discover Any Limiting Beliefs:

Your beliefs are explained by many as the rules of your life, well at least they are the rules that you will no doubt be living by at some level. These rules may be what sets you free to achieve things in your life and live the way that you think is important. The beliefs you have about your ability to run, your running skills and how you are as a runner are going to subsequently influence and affect your running.

These beliefs therefore, may be restricting your running and holding you back as a runner; they may even be creating the belief that you are incapable of achieving your running goals. Or as in the case of the previously mentioned Claire Lincoln, make sure you achieve what you set out to.

We tend to form our beliefs as the result of our experiences and then we act as if they are true. In one sense they are self-fulfilling prophecies. If you believe you are a capable runner, you will act that way, dedicate yourself that way, approach your training that way and communicate with yourself that way when running in events. My own beliefs in my running have undoubtedly be forged by years of continuous running proving what I am capable of.

Yet, the belief to run that way in the first instance needed to be there, so which came first? The belief or the experience?

Many think that beliefs are only formed by experiences, but equally experiences are the results of beliefs which means that you can choose, create and fashion your beliefs!

In any aspect of life, and especially in sporting performance, we all have a personal investment in our own beliefs. When the world confirms them, then they make a lot of sense to us, they are then predictable and give us a sense of security and certainty. We even may take a perverse pleasure in a poor performance, providing we have predicted it; how many of you have used the term ‘I told you so’ and found it to be a satisfying phrase? Not because you necessarily wanted anything to go wrong, but because your beliefs were proved correct.

Prior to updating our beliefs, it is best to make sure we are aware of any negative and limiting beliefs.

Limiting beliefs are a major offender stopping us from achieving our running goals. They act as rules that stop us from getting what exists within us as potential and we all have so much potential as runners that we do not tap into nearly enough.  Limiting beliefs hold us back from achieving what we are actually capable of.

So have a good think about this question; “What is stopping you from achieving your goal?” and know that the answers are very often your limiting beliefs.

Further to the phrases I mentioned in my previous blog entry, here are some typical limiting beliefs that are amazingly common among runners;

“I am too heavy to run.”

“I do not have a runners build.”

“I’ll never be a great runner as I started so late in life.”

“I am too old to run an ultramarathon.”

“Other people are better suited to running than me.”

“I do not deserve to be a successful runner.”

“I have reached my limits.”

“I need to work very hard to just run a mile.”

“Successful running takes a very long time.”

“Running is painful.”

This is important: These and similar beliefs are only true if you act as if they are. Suppose they are mistaken? What difference would that make? Is the difference worthwhile? What if you held other, more progressive beliefs?

In the process of achieving your goals, sometimes just being able to articulate any existing limiting beliefs and in turn noticing their effect is enough to alter or dissolve your old unwanted belief and therefore change and update your own reality.

It has certainly been my experience that the majority of people are not usually aware of their limiting beliefs. So the first step is to put them into language or to write them down. Then they are exposed and can be examined and ideally let go of.

One way is to simply ask yourself what the reasons are that you are not currently achieving your goal. What do you think is holding you back? Or ask yourself what the reason is you are struggling in some way? Ask yourself that question and answer as truthfully and thoroughly as you can. The answers will reveal what it is that you perceive to be limitations. More often than not, these limits will be more about you than about the world. When they are about you, they are something that can be changed or updated.

A good principle to work from is the following;

Whatever you state is preventing you from achieving your goal is a belief and comes from you, not reality.

Barriers to success are created in the outside world from limiting beliefs in your mind.

Reason with yourself intelligently and objectively and write down and explore any limiting beliefs that you hold that you think may be detrimentally effecting your running.

Now Lets Update Our Beliefs:

Having identified a belief that you think is limiting or restrictive or causing you problems, make sure that you write it down precisely. When you get a belief down on paper and look at it in that way it then begins to dissipate already; it is exposed and vulnerable.

Now run through the following 18 steps to rigorously question and ideally transform the belief. This is a very thorough and diligent process that requires you to take some time, get sat down with a pen and paper and devote some thought, reasoning and conviction. Those that spend the right time on it will reap the rewards and form a solid foundation of positive cognitions that are going to fuel your running performance wonderfully.

1. Ask yourself and write down how true the unwanted, negative belief feels on a scale of 0-100%.

2. Now ask yourself and write down how true that belief is in reality on a scale of 0-100%.

Be objective here, be as neutral and as honest as you can be.

3. As you look at that old belief, write down when it feels the most emotionally convincing? Then also write down when it feels the least emotionally convincing.

This is going to give you some valuable information about the kinds of conditions that will exasperate the issue and the unwanted belief.

4. Write down what actual evidence you have for that negative belief.

What evidence is there to support that unwanted, negative belief? Again, be neutral, realistic and objective.

5. Now write down what evidence you have that contradicts or challenges it.

What evidence do you have, and what evidence can you find right now that proves the old, unwanted negative belief is not necessarily the truth or a fact?

6. Write down what possible advantages there are to holding the negative belief.

Is it (the negative old belief) serving you beneficially in some perverse way?

7. Now write down what possible disadvantages there are to holding that negative belief?

At this stage, before moving on to the upcoming questions, startto recall a time when you doubted a belief?

Can you remember an occasion when you doubted something that you really used to hold as a firm belief? You may wish to reflect on your life, think about the kind of beliefs that you had at certain times in your life, I know that mine have changed and altered a great deal over the years. I remember having solid beliefs about certain things when I was at college and can remember doubting those beliefs as I learned more about life and throughout my studies.

When you think about that period of doubt, how did you know that you were doubting your belief? Did you have certain sensations in your body? What were you thinking about? How did you think about it? What were you experiencing? Really see if you can get back into that state of doubt, psychologically and physiologically. While in that state, bring to the forefront of your mind the old unwanted limiting belief that you identified earlier and have a think about your old limiting belief that you want to shed; do this while in that doubting state.

Great isn’t it? Who would have thought that there are advantages to doubting things? Start to doubt the old unwanted belief.

Continue to do this with some more of the questions that we previously asked, begin picking away at the old withering belief by asking your self:

“What are the disadvantages to your running of having this old belief?”

“Does it really fit in with what is truly important to me as a runner?”

“In the past, when was having this old belief getting in the way of my running performance?”

“What would it be like to be free of this old belief?”

Just roll those questions around in the mind and then start to get focused again.

8. What possible thinking errors are contained in that negative old belief? (You may want to refer to the previous blog entry to understand more of what these are) By holding that old belief….

– Are you blaming or personalising?
– Are you discounting the positives?
– Are you catastrophising, or thinking the worst?
– Are you making an over-generalisation?
– Are you engaging in shouldism or musterbation? (If you think you should or must be doing something, for example, it is very different from wanting to do something. Do you feel obliged to do something by having this belief?)

9. Having considered all those things, how true does the negative old belief feel now on a scale of 0-100%? Write that figure down.

Get your self nice and relaxed and breathing deeply and comfortably and then go ahead and imagine that deep inside of you exists a large furnace and if you really want to be free of the old belief forever, then imagine tossing it into the furnace and watch it burn away into nothing.

Now lets update… Think carefully about this; what would be a more realistic and helpful alternative belief to have? Before you write it down on the next numbered step, consider these important points:

Firstly, it has to be stated positively and progressively, remember that you want to move towards goals not move away from fears with your beliefs, ask for what you want, not what you don’t want.

Secondly, you must ensure that you are comfortable and happy with the desired belief, make sure that it does not harm, conflict with or upset anyone to have this belief; that includes your self!

Thirdly, make sure that it is worded in the present tense, by that I mean phrase it as if it is occurring now. For example if your goal were to achieve your ideal weight, a suitable new belief would be: “I believe I am able to achieve my ideal weight.”

By doing that now, you have made the desired belief relevant and pertinent now and you have gone and given it flow, direction and energy.

10. Write down a better, new belief that is going to replace the old one. As you look at it, write down how true it feels right now on a scale of 0-100%.

11. As we did with the old belief, looking at and thinking about the new belief, write down when it feels the least emotionally convincing.

12. Write down when it feels the most emotionally convincing.

13. What evidence could you possibly have against the new belief? Is there any evidence to suggest a problem with the new belief?

14. What evidence do you have for that positive new belief?

Find evidence that shows it is correct, realistic and useful to have this new belief. Write it down.

15. Write down any disadvantages to you for holding that positive new belief.

If there is any kind of downside, objectively write that down here.

16. Now write down all the advantages to you of holding that new positive belief.

Before proceeding, get into a receptive state of mind now. Think back through your life, just have a think about times when you have been impressionable, willing to learn, open to change and especially open to new beliefs. Remember everything about that wonderful state of receptivity; How did it feel? Where in your body were the feelings? What did you see? What internal dialogue did you have? Really run through as much as you possibly can to achieve that state again for your self right now?

As you recall a time when you were open to a new belief, now really focus on and think about your new desired belief while in this open, receptive state. Now ask your self;

“How would it feel to have your desired belief?”

“How is it a better belief than the old one?”

“What difference would it make to your life to have this new belief?”

“What things would you do that you have not been doing?”

“What would you be able to achieve and overcome now?”

Nothing to write down just yet, simply roll these thoughts around inside your mind as you engage positively with the new belief.

To round off this step nicely, take some time out now to evaluate the new belief. How good does it feel? Is there any tweaking to do? Can you make it even better and even more empowering?

17. Having run through this, now write down how true it feels now on a scale of 0-100%.

18. Finally, we come onto the process of taking some action.

Make a choice to take some action. What can you and what will you do differently this very day as a result of having this wonderful new belief?  If this new belief were true and you really believed it, how would you act, what action would you take?

How about you set your self a task, to achieve today, a task that is based on this new belief being true for you and your life now.

Start doing things differently straight away and get that new belief firmly embedded into your behaviour patterns. When you start to do things differently, you then have physiological support and experience of the new belief and it becomes verified and enhanced with each new day.

There you have it. Let go of old beliefs, set up some news one and your running ability will be fuelled and advanced as a result.

Have some of themes here resonated with you? Then have a read of these pages:

1. Do you need help or support taking your sporting performance to the next level?
Coaching with Adam Eason Or Hypnotherapy with Adam Eason
2. Would you like a satisfying and meaningful career as a hypnotherapist helping others? Are you a hypnotherapist looking for stimulating and career enhancing continued professional development and advanced studies?
Adam Eason’s Anglo European training college.
3. Are you a hypnotherapist looking to fulfil your ambitions or advance your career?
Hypnotherapist Mentoring with Adam Eason.

Have you read my book Hypnosis for Running: Training Your Mind to Maximise Your Running Performance? It helps any athlete or sportsperson maximise performance.
Likewise, if you’d like to learn more about self-hypnosis and how it can help you advance your athletic performance, where you’ll learn to understand the evidence based principles of it from a scientific perspective and how to apply it to many areas of your life while having fun and in a safe environment, then come and join me for my one day seminar which does all that and more, have a read here: The Science of Self-Hypnosis Seminar.