Our brains create a remarkable and close to non stop dialogue in our heads throughout the day. Often this inner voice can be heard remembering or replaying prior events, as well as, contemplating future events. This voice has remarkable abilities that help separate from the rest of the animal kingdom. Researchers call this inner voice, introspection, or the examination of mental thoughts. Interestingly, researchers have caught up to what all active people already understand. How we talk to ourselves during exercise or performances often influences our decisions to stop, continue, increase or decrease our aerobic or strength training outputs. A recent article describes how subtle changes in our inner voice influence cycling performances.
Hardy and colleagues conducted a randomized controlled trial on our internal dialogue effects on cycling performance (J Sports Sci. 2019). Authors randomized cyclists to two conditions during a 10k cycling time trial performance test. The first group was given first person self talk phrases, “I can do this”, while the 2nd group was randomized to second person phrases, “You can do this”. Unfortunately, a third group did not include those rare athletes who choose to speak in the third person. Authors reported the latter group using the 2nd person demonstrated a faster time trial time and greater power output compared to the 1st person group despite having similar perceived exertion in the time trial.