A blog about my experience with coaching psychology and how my mental wellbeing affects my performance.
One of the most important aspects of running, that is quite often the most complex to crack, is the mental side of it. This doesn’t have to be directly in relation to running, but the impact our mental well-being has on our performance. It can be difficult to understand why we are thinking the way we are and to not let our minds overwhelm us. Whilst this is exhausting normally, it can also make training and racing to the best of our ability incredibly difficult.
For me personally, the correlation between my mental-wellbeing and my performance is huge. If I am not feeling mentally strong, confident or stable, or have a lot on my mind, my performance can take a significant hit, and it has in the past. An inability to understand why my brain thinks in the ways it does and not being able to catch my thoughts before they massively spiralled downhill, led to a period of mental instability which initiated a cycle of under eating and over exercising. It also meant I was in no mindset to be able to train or compete to the best of my ability. I crumbled as soon as anything got too difficult because I couldn’t cope with the daily stressors I was facing outside of running. Frequently, running would push me over the edge mentally because I was already stepping over that fine line.
Roughly 18 months ago, I made the executive decision to do something about this. I was already being mentored in regards to my wellbeing by the incredible human that is Wendy Roberts, but we decided I could benefit more from formal coaching sessions. Wendy's passion and willingness to guide, educate and allow individuals to understand the complicated nature of their thoughts has been instrumental in my development as an individual and as an athlete. Without Wendy, I’d have risked falling back into that downwards spiral on multiple occasions, but she has provided me with the tools to develop a sense of agency and become an autonomous individual who can confidently chase after their dreams.
What is well-being coaching?
Wendy is a wellbeing and performance coach who offers coaching in positive psychology. She works with individuals inside and outside of sport, but takes extra interest in those seeking to overcome the barriers preventing them from achieving their goals. Wendy works to get you to recognise that the mind, body and emotions are all interconnected, encouraging you to get out of your head and develop your self confidence. These are all ideas that I struggled to comprehend and felt Wendy could guide e towards recognising.
Wendy’s key focus is on positive psychology. ‘Positive psychology is the science of human flourishing and achievement which offers a vast array of resources to help people find the sense of wellbeing and performance they seek.’ (wendyroberts.co.uk, 2020)
My coaching ethos is person-centred and the work is a collaborative process that takes into account your strengths, goals and insights with a view to developing your self-confidence in your own abilities.
How has it helped me?
Initially, I wasn’t sure whether coaching psychology could benefit be. I am a very open book and tend to discuss what is on my mind with a lot of my friends, so I couldn’t see how talking to someone could help me. However, I’ve noticed huge developments since I began my journey with Wendy. Working with Wendy has allowed me to make sense of the complex matrix that is my mind, and I continue to develop as an individual with every session.
Wendy initially started as a mentor for me. She was an imperative figure that I could turn to when I needed to release and make sense of the thoughts rattling my brain. As our relationship developed, we then progressed on to having a coaching relationship where I would meet with Wendy every couple of weeks to discuss whatever was troubling me at the time. This came at a time when I couldn’t control my nerves going into weekly running sessions. I was losing my enjoyment for the sport as I became so worried about how I would perform and put way too much pressure on myself to constantly be perfect. As a consequence, my performance suffered. Wendy got me to recognise that there is no such thing as a good/bad session. Every session teaches us something different, whether it be physical or mental. We worked hard to get my enjoyment back to a very positive place now. Over time, my sessions with Wendy have become a lot more complex and allowed me to get to the root of some of my thoughts that I could never make sense of and have troubled me for a long time. She has allowed me to see the self-critical human being that I am and learn to manage my perfectionist traits.
What differences have I noticed?
Since my journey with Wendy began, there have been many positive differences I have experienced. There are way too many to go into depth so I have developed a list for you. Wendy’s coaching has allowed me to:
If you have wondered if coaching psychology, either in relation to sport or everyday life, may benefit you, I would say give it a go. I firmly believed coaching psychology would not help me, but the change has been incredible and I truly believe it is allowing me to mature and progress as a strong individual and athlete. Wendy has been an instrumental to my progress and I would recommend her to anyone contemplating positive psychology.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!