The first step to absolutely crush any race

Our preparation matches our commitment.

This is the first step to crush any race is actually quite simple. It is so simple in fact, that it rarely gets mentioned as a possible barrier, but I have used it as a barrier and so have most people.

It’s signing up! 

If we don’t go all-in then we are in the way.  And we remain testing ourselves 

When we sign up for the race, we are now training ourselves for the event. It is a lot tougher to de-commit to something after we have invested time and money. We prepare because we are committed to race.

The sign-up page for races is a science. It stares at us with a timer clicking down and asking us to enter our information and our payment details. It is at this moment that the game is sometimes won or lost. It is like waking up in the morning and either hitting the snooze button, or just getting out of bed.

The many, many excuses about “why” we can’t sign up are most likely valid as well. But, after we sign up, the entire game changes. It is odd how our whole attitude and outlook changes the moment we sign-up for something, the moment we actually commit.

However, if we don’t sign up, we continue testing ourselves. Commitment is the first step to crush any race.

Burn The Ships

In 1519, the Spanish explorer, Cortês arrived to the Yucatan peninsula. He landed his 11 or so ships with 500 soldiers and about 100 sailors. He then ordered his men to “burn the ships.”

He did this because there were a few men who were rumored to be conspiring to steal a ship and sail back to Spain. Cortês knew the only way they were going to conquer was if they had no other choice but to conquer. If they wanted to return home, then they would have to use their enemy’s ships. Cortês needed everyone committed to the goal without reservation or chance of retreat. He allowed no easy out.

This “burn the ships” analogy is important because the registration sites simply offer you an out, a guarantee.

They offer you an option to recoup your entry costs (for a fee of course) if you cancel. At first glance, we may think that it is a great deal; I mean what if I get in a car accident a few days before or tear a hamstring?

Surely, being able to guarantee that I don’t lose money is good. Except, it is not. First, if you look closely, in order to retrieve most of your money you’d have to bail several days before.

If the race is less than a week away in most cases, your race costs won’t be refunded. Second, and most importantly, these race guarantees are appealing because we are geared toward protecting ourselves and avoiding danger. So, we mistakably choose the path of less resistance. If there is an out for us to take, we will take it. However, when there is no safety option for us to take, it forces us to commit.

Registering is the first step to crush any race. The only way out is through. When it comes to signing up for a race, burn the ships.

This is Just ONE way to Build Mental Toughness. If you are interested in learning more Mental Toughness Techniques. Check out RING THE BELL FOR Mental Toughness. 

Build Mental Toughness

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out all the books on Mental Toughness- 

NO Deals

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At the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, Billy Mills would make history with his iconic sprint to win the gold medal in the 10,000 meters. He was so unknown, that a Japanese reporter asked him after his win “who are you?” He is still the last American to win the Gold medal in the 10,000 meters.

However, he was going to quit.

Before the last lap, he knew he had third place locked up, so he was going to pull up and let the battle be decided by the other two runners, Ron Clarke and Mohammed Gammoudi. He knew it was “safe” to pull up, but as he looked into the stands, he saw his wife crying… He couldn’t give up. NO DEAL!

A runner/cyclist friend of mine was an athlete who admitted that he could just “show up.” He was skilled enough to compete in basically anything he did.

However, he told me that his game changed once he quit making deals with himself.

During a race or competition, he used to say to himself, “Keep up with [that guy] until this point and then let him go.” He admitted he wasn’t as sharp as he needed to be mentally. Now, during a race or practice, he’ll set goals, he’ll just say, “Catch that guy.”

How often do we make deals instead of goals? 

With our children, “Honey, if you pick up your toys, you can get a snack.” With God, “lord, if you get me through this, I will never…” With ourselves, “If you [do this] then you can [do this].”

Making deals is just like a coach who uses sprints as the only means of discipline. It works, but only for a short while, the athletes soon grow to tolerate it, and not learn from it. Making deals is effective, but only for the short-term. It gets the job done, but it is not sustainable and it causes really bad habits.

When we make deals, we are limiting how good we can become. Deals do not build mental toughness. Our motivation and focus has changed. We are doing something to gain an immediate result, not long-term success. Making deals also gives us an “out”, a reason not to push further when it gets really tough…

Setting goals means having a plan of action without a fallback. It’s stating, “I will do this”, instead of  “do this, so you can.” It means keeping the focus on the immediate task at hand instead of focusing on the outcome.

Athletes don’t train for the trophy; they train for the feeling of holding the trophy. The only way to do that is to make goals, not deals.

“Good athletes practice until they get it right, great one’s practice until they can’t get it wrong.”

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent book on Mental Toughness- Don’t Should on Your Kids: Build Their Mental Toughness   

technique for goals

Use This Top-Gun Technique For Goals…

In the movie Top Gun, Tom Skerritt, tells the fighter pilots, “You are the best of the best, the elite,” and “we’ll make you even better.”

Top Gun made them better fighter pilots, by flying, not by trying to make them fisherman or painters.

Stay with me here, because too often, we set goals addressing an area where we really struggle. This rarely works. Over 50% of New Year’s resolutions fail within the first six weeks. Typically, most people set goals to change, which are usually on areas we already feel bad about ourselves, the worse part, and we start from a point of  “I am no good.”

Use this top gun technique for goals. The purpose of setting goals is to improve and this occurs through gaining confidence and momentum. If you want to beat the odds, try this technique instead… Improve upon your greatest strength.

For instance, my weakness is multi-tasking. I would “like” to get better at stopping it, but come on’, I do it too much already. So, instead, my technique for goals is based upon my strengths of discipline, sport psychology, mental toughness, and creativity. The goals I set are based upon “I rock at this stuff.”

If we try to address our biggest weakness, even if we succeed, then we’ve really only improved to the level of “kind of bad.” But, more than likely, half way through the six-week process, we’ll stumble, begin to make excuses, and feel bad as a result.

We do much better in life, using our existing strengths to improve. Confidence is a powerful tool in sports and in life, because when things are going well, we are more energized, positive, and relaxed. When we have momentum, we “keep doing what we’re doing.”

The purpose of setting goals is progress, not perfection. Thus, the technique for goals is to improve on your greatest strength. Make your greatest strength your greatest strength. Find small ways to improve by doing what you already do, but “making it even better.”


Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent books on Mental Toughness-