People use self-hypnosis for many different reasons. Find out how one very determined athlete used it self-hypnosis to improve sports performance in the London-Edinburgh-London Cycle Challenge.
Self-Hypnosis for Sports Performance: A Case Study
Self-Hypnosis to Improve Sports Performance in Ultra-Endurance Challenge
I have known Sheila for a number of years. And her modesty does her credit as I would never have known about her extraordinary achievements unless I had asked if we could write this blog. She knew I was running one of my Self-Hypnosis Workshops in Lewes. And with improving her sports performance in mind, thought it would be helpful for her to come along. Only now do I discover just what a feat of endurance she was planning!
None less than the London-Edinburgh-London Cycle Challenge. The route was 1441km long, just over 895 miles. Cycling through incredible scenery, including some steep climbs. All in under five days. Leaving London 9.15am Sunday morning and returning, via Edinburgh, on Friday at 6am. Her time was 116 hours, only 11 of which were for sleep. For most of us this might not sound like fun, but then Sheila is an ultra-endurance athlete!
“This kind of challenge is not about the speed or the bike, it is about the mental strength. The tenacity and belief to get through all the hurdles as they come up. Self-hypnosis seemed like the right kind of tool to help me train my brain.” Sheila, Kent
How Can Self-Hypnosis Help to Improve Sports Performance?
Most people can learn how to achieve the state of self-hypnosis. That’s what we cover at the one-day workshops, and it is surprising just how quickly many find they can get into that zone. Once you are in the zone, the next step is to have an array of tools to use to maximise your time there.
Self-hypnosis offers many health and personal development benefits, and is incredibly versatile. You can also tailor it to suit your specific needs. The key to your success is to decide what you want to achieve. How would you like to feel? What do you need to believe? This is valuable in itself, but when you access this whilst in the hypnosis zone it becomes even more powerful. You train your brain to switch to the thoughts, feelings and ideas that support you. And where the mind goes, the body follows.
The Self-Hypnosis Tool Box
We had covered a range of approaches and tools at the workshop and Sheila was incredibly adept at working out a staged plan to help her use these.
Step One: Using Self-Hypnosis to Access and Build Self-Belief
“The first block to get over was to really believe I could do it. So I worked on connecting with how to access that self-belief. I did this in steps. First I used the enhanced visualisation technique to access a peaceful deep place. From there I could then connect with powerful memories of me having already achieved major cycling challenges – the Mallorca 312 Cycle Race and the iconic Tour de France climb up to the top of the Alpe D’Huez. Embedding that feeling of crossing the finishing line. The statement I was training my brain to access: I have achieved – I can achieve.”
Step Two: Tools for When Things Don’t go to Plan!
Sheila has enough experience of endurance cycling challenges to know you need to be able to access even more resourcefulness and resilience when things go wrong. Falls, bad weather and mechanical glitches can crop up for even the most determined of athletes. What then?
“At these points I wanted something in my tool kit to stop my brain going into a cascade of panic and fear, and undermining me. So I used two techniques Lynne showed us. Firstly I visualised a cycle race form Tonbridge to Portsmouth when the rain was torrential. Awful conditions. But I did it. And on another occasion cycling around Iceland. Trying to get across the top of a glacier at 11pm and falling off my bike. But I got through it and I connected with achieving that, even when things weren’t going to plan.
Then I used an approach we learnt called anchoring. This embeds a positive response to a trigger. My trigger would be the feeling that things were too hard and not going well. And my response would be to have a drink of water and to just keep peddling for another 5 minutes. If you can do that you can get through that moment of doubt and break its spell.”
Step Three: How to Get Some Sleep!
The chances for sleep enroute are minimal. Exhaustion helps but in a crowded school hall, full of collapsed and snoring cyclists! So how did Sheila manage any sleep at all?
“I wanted to be more able to sleep under pressure. I used the self-hypnosis body scan technique using a colour to send sleep through my body – sapphire blue! And it worked and I woke refreshed.”
I must confess to that impressing me as much as the endurance cycling!
Self-Hypnosis to Sustain Myself Throughout the Ride
This is a monumental physical and mental challenge. Drawing upon the deepest resources. Sheila had trained physically and also done her research.
“I remembered Lynne saying about how Albert Einstein had used hypnotherapy and self-hypnosis, and how it helped you access more of your memory and creative ideas. When I was cycling I found I could remember every gem I had read about how to get through these rides. I could access my own personal library of information and draw upon that.”
The Finishing Line!
I don’t doubt that Sheila called on many other resources to help her achieve this. The discipline to train physically, looking into the right diet and all the other preparations that go into making this possible. It is a fantastic achievement and I am so glad that the self-hypnosis made its contribution.
“Although there are around 1000 other cyclists you are not riding with them, this is a solo challenge. It is a personal thing. I wanted to be able to sustain myself on this ride and survive it on every level.
Learning self-hypnosis allowed me to train my mind whilst I was training my body for this challenge. Before I had only trained my body. In some ways it is such a simple tool to use, and yet so profound in its help.”
I really enjoy hearing how people use the self-hypnosis they learnt at the workshops. Not many of us will find ourselves in ultra-endurance sporting situations, but everyday life can sometimes send us personal challenges that can feel that way. And self-hypnosis is a very versatile tool.
Sheila made incredibly good use of self-hypnosis to improve sports performance, really adapting it to suit her needs. Many thanks to her for sharing her story, you can also read about some of her other travels on Sheila’s Wheels. Congratulations to her and all the other athletes who took part in the London-Edinburgh-London Cycle Challenge. I suspect that she is not alone in already looking forward to her next challenge.
I hope you have found this post about using Self-Hypnosis to Improve Sports Performance to be of interest. If this or other ways in which one-to-one hypnotherapy or learning self-hypnosis may helpful for you, please contact me.