neal palles

Creating Confidence to Succeed in Ultraendurance Events

Topics Covered In This Episode:

  • Thoughts that keep people from feeling confident
  • Self-efficacy vs. self confidence
  • The power and benefit of staying in the moment
  • The value of writing down instances of achievement and great effort
  • The confidence pitfall of taking on too much
  • Why self-compassion is essential for ultraendurance athletes


Neal Palles is a CTS ultrarunning coach who holds dual master’s degrees in Social Work and Applied Sports Psychology, and is a Licensed Psychotherapist and Sports Performance Specialist.


Episode Links:



CTS Coach Bio:

Twitter: @NealPalles

Instagram: @nealpalles


Book Recommendation: Do Hard Things by Steve Magness

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Episode Transcription:

Please note that this is an automated transcription and may contain errors. Please refer to the episode audio for clarification.

Corrine Malcolm (00:08):

Neil welcome back to the show.

Neal Palles (00:10):

It’s pretty excited to be back here. It’s been yeah. About seven months or so.

Corrine Malcolm (00:14):

Yeah, I was, I just actually looked, I was like, when did that come out? So for those of you who, I don’t know, Neil, your, I, your voice is very like, you know, specific. So I’m, I’m assuming people are gonna be like, I remember I remember this conversation. So the last time we had you back on the show for a one-on-one conversation was back in January and we got super gritty talking about psychological flexibility. I still have a post-it note on my computer monitor that actually says psychological flexibility is greater than mental toughness. And it resonated with a lot of a lot of folks. And so if you haven’t listened to it yet, go back. It came out in January. It doesn’t have an episode number associated with it. Maybe we can link it in the show notes for you all, but it’s really great. And I can’t wait to dive into another topic with you today.

Neal Palles (00:59):

Yes. Awesome. I’m excited. <Laugh>

Corrine Malcolm (01:01):

Yeah. Cho chomping at the bit. So it’s, now that was January it’s now August, which I cannot believe <laugh>. The summer has flown by. We have, you know, ourselves included in this, most of us have done a big race or are about to do a big a race for the year. And so I was like, what? I was like, I really wanna talk to Neil again. What should we talk about? And I said, you know what? Confidence, I’ve been feeling a lack of confidence heading towards some racing this fall. And so I wanna talk about what is, what is confidence in the athlete context? How do athletes develop that confidence? And then how can coaches help athletes cultivate it? So I’m wondering when I sent you that email and I said, Hey, I wanna talk about confidence. What, what kind of came to mind there? Oh

Neal Palles (01:50):

Boy. <Laugh>, I mean, it’s everything. Oh, oh boys. Oh, boys are gonna, it’s all. I mean, a lot of what we do is rooted in, in confidence, you know, it’s rooted in how we feel about ourselves, you know, going all the way down to our, our self beliefs or our self-worth, you know, and kind of stemming out and rooted literally. I mean, if you think about it as like a tree, you know, you think about self-worth as way down there at the roots. And then confidence is kind of over here and over here is self-efficacy of with, with the leaves. And so it just kind of trickles down. So, you know, kind of thinking about it this way. So, I mean, self-efficacy, these are the leaves of the tree, the belief that you can perform a specific task at a certain level. So the belief that you can, you know, run your a hundred mile under 30 hours, you know, so when I did big horn a couple weeks ago, a couple months ago, really right now it’s like I had this, you know, I went in with this belief that I could, you know, I was gonna get this done.

Neal Palles (02:55):

I was gonna get it done under 36 hours and whatever the cutoff was. And I didn’t even know if it was 35 or 36, and some people were talking about during the race and I’m like, I’ll get it done, you know? And there was no worries. And, and that’s, that’s self-efficacy and kind of is dropping down a little bit under that is gonna be self-confidence, you know, the beliefs about your general abilities. Can I run, you know, do you know, do, do I have the ability to run? Do I have the ability to run fast and, you know, and then, you know, and so you kind of think of those as the branches, you know, so the Leafs are those little things here I could, you know, and it’s going down to the branches and then you’re looking down at the trunk of the tree, you know, of self-esteem, you know, the, the, the emotional judgments about your based on what you’ve experienced in life.

Neal Palles (03:41):

And that’s rooted down even further at the roots of self-worth, you know, the beliefs about your values and worth as a person. So it all kind of trickles up. And a lot of time, what we’re dealing with as coaches is up here as self-efficacy and self-confidence, you know, and, and it gets further down when you, you know, you come to see me when you’re, you’re talking about self-esteem and, and then you know, and self-belief you know, and so what are, so what are we talking about? It’s kind of this generalized feeling that, can I do something, can I do this workout? You know, I was thinking about this today. I was looking at an athlete’s workouts and, and I was like, and I could hear in the tone of their voice that, you know, not in their voice, but in the tone of their writing, that they were not so confident about what they did.

Neal Palles (04:36):

And I looked at it and I looked at it a different angle. You know, I looked at it as a coach and I analyzed, I said, well, actually, he ran these a lot faster and that, you know, than you thought you did, you know, oh, really? You know, and then you could hear the confidence shoot up in the email, back to me, it’s like, oh, wait a second. So you’re thinking about it as little things as we do as coaches, you know, I’m not telling them, oh, you need to be confident. I’m just doing these little things just to, you know, Hey, wait a second, let’s look at the reality here. What the, what was the reality? You know, and you actually did better than you, you thought you did. And there’s all sorts of things we can do as coaches that, and we’re not manipulating confidence we’re, which is helping them succeed, you know? And when you have success, when you have little successes along the way, that’s the stuff that builds confidence.

Corrine Malcolm (05:31):

I think that’s so interesting. And I, and I’ve been, I’ve read a, I’ve read a bunch about self, self, self efficacy over the years. And I, I love that, that it’s, this it’s a task specific self-confidence right. It’s like a it’s you learn it and you can actually like pick it up from other people around you. Oh, yeah. Right. And I think that that is so important in our sport. And maybe that’s where we kind of come up with, maybe that’s where we like, have this, like this gap, right. Because we’ve mentioned before, one of the big things about ultra running is that we can’t there, you know, if you’re racing a marathon, your longest run might be 20 or 22 miles. That’s pretty close to the full distance. If you’re running a hundred mile race, you have this unknown, this gap. And I feel like self efficacy and the self confidence piece, all of a sudden, it’s like, how can we man, not manipulate, but how can we like fill that gap with this?

Corrine Malcolm (06:22):

Like exper like, because say you haven’t had that experience yet say you haven’t run the a hundred mile distance yet, or the 50 mile distance yet. And you have no previous experience to tell you that you can like, to me, it’s like, that’s the most, I mean, we all have other self confidence issues outside of like the obvious ones. But to me, that’s, what’s so interesting about our sport. And I think that’s where our athletes are kind of constantly coming up against that wall of the, the, like the unknown causing this gap in, in, in self-confidence. And I’m wondering, you know, is there a way to target that? Is there a way to, to, to build off of these smaller experiences, like telling your athlete that they, they actually ran the workout better than they expected to kind of fill, fill that gap.

Neal Palles (07:05):

It’s, it’s structuring our, our workouts. It’s structuring the experience to be challenging, but right at the level, right up, bump it up against that level of what can I do? You know, you know, and right today is a five hour run. Maybe we did only four hours last time, you know, but, okay. I know that we’re only going to six hours, you know, and this is scary because now you couldn’t do something that’s 24 hours, 30 hours. Part of it’s in the frame, you know, the framing of it that six hours could be an all day experience, eight a, you know, could be, maybe it’s an eight hour day, it’s an all day experience and you are creating a situation where they’re gonna succeed, you know, and, and, you know, they could succeed and, and, you know, and they know they could succeed, succeed that, and it’s like taking it to the next level and, and really working with the frame.

Neal Palles (08:07):

Then, look, you felt what this felt like you had energy left over, you came home and did, okay. You know, what happens if we slow it down a little bit more, you know, what happens if we, you know, dial in that nutrition a little bit more? And so you’re, you’re practicing over and over again. So it’s this mastery, which is key to developing confidence is, you know, you’re and refocusing it on, on that mastering these little tasks, mastering that six hour day, mastering your nutrition plan, mastering, you know, your you’re pacing, you know, what does an all day pace feel like? You know, and I’ll use myself as an example, cuz it’s so fresh. You know, its like when I did big horn, I never, I never ran in like 90 degree temperatures and it was supposed to be 90 degrees at the start and it’s like, all right, this is gonna be interesting.

Neal Palles (09:04):

Well, let’s go for it. You know? And, but I had three days prior, you know, or actually the week prior it was getting into the nineties here in Colorado. I was like, well let’s, let’s go. Just experience it. It wasn’t really necessarily a, you know, a physiological adaptation, you know, I wasn’t gonna get much on running for an hour, you know, in 90 degree temps, but it was also gonna get, wait a second. I could run this pace and feel okay here, you know, and see what that maybe I’ll go two hours in this or three hours, you know, have my longest run, you know, a week beforehand. And I know with the, okay, same thing with altitude, you know, people, you know, you go out to altitude and you’re like, oh my God, you know, I’m not doing any alt I’ve never done altitude training for Leadville, but I’ll go up to altitude and go, yeah, this, this is what it feels like. I’m not gonna die here. I’m gonna be able to get down in one piece. It’s it’s uncomfortable, but you’re developing that confidence. You’re developing mastery, you know, and okay. And there’s other pieces of it. Go ahead. You got something

Corrine Malcolm (10:08):

I really like that. And I like that in the sense that my vision of this is that I think we think that, oh, to develop these skills, we have to do extreme, crazy things. And really that’s not the case. You know, it’s real like to develop toughness. People are like, how do I develop toughness? And I’m like, well you, you show up every day you get out, you get out to do your workout. Even when the weather isn’t ideal or you know, you’re a little bit tired or, you know, work is stressful. I mean, obviously we gotta balance balance those stressors, but it’s like showing up, develops these skills. And so I like that. It’s not so much this like, oh, I’ve gotta go put myself through the ringer in order to develop, you know, my nutritional plan or the knowledge that I can run at an all day pace or the knowledge that I can, you know, troubleshoot and mitigate things that might come up. And I think that when people think about how do I, you know, how to prep for the unknown, how to develop confidence, how do I develop mental toughness or flex or psychological flexibility? We, we don’t think this, but we’re drawn to this notion that you know, more is better, more extreme is better. And I don’t really think that’s the case. I think it’s, you know, having confirmation from just like showing up and doing the work day in and day out,

Neal Palles (11:19):

Thinking about Steve Magnus has a new book out. Maybe you read it. I think he might come out and say it somewhere there. And he quotes Steven Hayes. Who’s the acceptance commitment therapy originator originated from him. And so he’s talking about psychological flexibility. He’s talking about mental toughness and it’s not what we’ve all been trained to think it was, it’s not beaten ourselves to a pulp to get these things done. This, you know, the bravado, the, the beaten our chest to get these things done. It’s doing things in a way that we are psychologically flexible. We’re compassionate with ourselves and okay, we fell, we get back up, all right, what’s the next step? This is, this is uncomfortable right now. You know, how could I be here right here right now? You know, and using, you know, going back to that, you know, the idea of psychological flexibility is, you know, really it’s this piece of mindfulness where we recognize when we’re caught up in the bad, the negative self talk, which could bring our self confidence down and then, okay, come back to where we are right now, constantly during that LA and I mentioned this on that last podcast with you is like constantly just reframing myself and just going, all right.

Neal Palles (12:42):

You know, I’m right here right now. And just, you know, keep going. This is uncomfortable. Yeah. Okay. This is what you sign up for. The confidence never weighed going through that race, you know? And I think a lot of it had to do with just being present and going, yeah, this kind hurts, you know, you know, it, it it’s, it was towards the end where it’s like, where you smell, smell the barn a little bit, you know, and you know, you’re five miles from the end of this race and you’re on this burning hot road and it’s, you know, it’s like, oh, come on. <Laugh>, you know, but confidence didn’t wait. It’s like, my buddy was like, you know, we only got like an hour left. I got this, you know, we got it,

Corrine Malcolm (13:23):

We got it. It’s fine. I’ve, I’ve done five mile runs before, you know,

Neal Palles (13:26):

But it’s it’s experience. And, and like you mentioned, noticing other people, you know, other people that we know that have had success doing this. I think that it it’s really helpful. And the mastery of the small things I know I could deal with nutrition problems, you know, I know I could deal with blisters. I’ve dealt with blisters for a gazillion years, you know, and it’s, you know, it’s like, okay, bring it at me. <Laugh>, you know?

Corrine Malcolm (13:55):

Yeah. So I think we we’ve talked a little bit, you know, in the context of sport and for athletes, confidence is kind of this self-efficacy piece plus plus, you know, kind of us building off of that. And then, you know, athletes are, can cultivate this by mastery of the little things by showing up by, by you knower by experience, by looking to other people’s experience and that, and we can kind of help cultivate or develop that too as coaches. And so I, there are two things that I really wanna talk about first is how can we, you know, how can we help the athletes cultivate that like further, you know, beyond we can’t run the miles for them, right? Like we got, send them out into the world and they run the miles on their own and they come back to us. So how can we cultivate it for athletes? And then I, and then after that, I wanna talk about pitfalls and what we need to, you know, what we should be watching out for in, in pitfall pitfalls of confidence.

Neal Palles (14:47):

So I think one of the things as coaches is setting people up for success, you know, and that, you know, the entire way, you know and when you set people up for success and they have those small successes, the that’s the mastery, right. That’s what they’re even be able to build off of right there. Now I could also, you could also teach a little bit of, Hey, you know, we talk, we talk a little bit about optimism, you know, and how that’s, how that actually is a really good tool in of itself. But a lot of people don’t believe in optimism, you know, <laugh>, they don’t necessarily believe the glass is half full, even though they’re about to run a hundred miles and you know, and it’s coming back to the here and now, what can I do to get you to come back to just this one workout?

Neal Palles (15:45):

What could I do to get you to come back to this one interval, you know, this, you know, and, and having that discussion, what could we do to bring you back to here and now, cuz if you’re thinking about what’s over there, you’re thinking about the outcome. You’re not, that’s gonna create that tension for you. But if you’re thinking about right here and right now, and being present where your, your feet are and what you could control, what you have that mastery over. Okay. Hey I, okay. So I just did like half hour ago, I did this crazy workout on the bike and I was, I I, for whatever reason, my confidence has been decreasing on the bike for the last year or so. And I was like, I get on this thing and I’m like, oh my God, this is gonna hurt. And then I said, wait a second, you’re talking about confidence.

Neal Palles (16:35):

Let’s go back to one interval at a time, you know? And I go back and I grind it out one interval. Okay. That was great. Well, the next interval, it was these 40 twenties followed by a short tempo and then yeah, short tempo and then recovery. And then two more sets of that. And it was just, it was brutal, you know, but it was beautiful because I just stayed right there. And then I started using the self talk. So how do we get people to do that? Go back to that one thing at a time, let’s, let’s focus on that. You know, we’re talking about with the end of what the finish line looks like. Let’s talk about, you know, what this, you know, what it looks like right now, what can you can control right now? I can control my attitude. Like on my bike, I started focusing on self-talk okay.

Neal Palles (17:26):

What do you know about self-talk Neil? Okay, you got this, you got, this looks strong. And then, you know, and it was a video related things. If John watching the video and I was like, I’m just looking at right here in this race with these guys, I don’t know, get it what I’m doing, but that helped. And before I know it, those three interval, you know, those three sets were over with. And I was like, yeah, I did it for the first time. And a couple of years it was, it was awesome. And it’s, it was just that you focusing, you know, if we can get our athletes to focus on that one thing, that one moment mastering that moment, coming back to what I can control. What have you had practice with you? This is why I started all my, you know, my athletes in January, let’s practice nutrition. I want you to carry new gels. You know, even on the, you know, long runs over an hour, we’re gonna bring all this stuff and you’re gonna practice with, you’re gonna practice with your poles early, early on. And, and, and guess what, you know, you know how to deal with that stuff. And along the way, you’re, you can have accidents and errors and failures and, but you’re gonna learn to recover from that and, and learn how to address those issues during that time.

Corrine Malcolm (18:36):

Yeah. And then I feel like we have the remind, then we, the remind athletes that we’ve done that stuff, right? Like it’s the, so this is, so I had an argument with Steve, my husband last night about confidence and how you develop confidence in an athlete. And for those of you don’t know, Steven was a us national champion on the mountain bike and raced on the world cup was a professional mountain biker for wow. A long time, long time for going back to medical school. Yeah. Yeah. And so he, he was like, well, how I built confidence was, you know, key workouts, like really key workouts and setting myself up for success and those key workouts and nailing them. And that is counter to everything I think about when it comes to confidence. And when it comes to how I drive that narrative with my athletes, I’m, I’m the person that, yes, of course I want them to succeed in their workouts and I set up work.

Corrine Malcolm (19:26):

You know, I want them to feel good in these, in some of these workouts. And I wanna praise them and tell ’em that they did a good job and all those things, but I’m the person that’s like, no, no, no, you shut up every day, you practiced your nutrition. You worked with your poles. You like you made the long runs happen. Like it’s a summation in my mind of all the work that you’ve done, I’m reminding you that you’ve been practicing this for six months type of thing. And so it was this counter and I don’t think that they, while they sound different in practice, I think that there’s probably more overlap than, than less, but it was, so it became this argument before bed being like, no, no, no key workouts or garbage. And you know, it’s all about everything else you do. And I wasn’t sure if this was like a professional, a like the pinnacle, the sport athlete versus the, every man athlete or something in between. But it’s kind of like, you know, you mentioned like practicing these key things, mastering this one, this one workout or this one interval. And so I do think there’s overlap, but at the same time, there’s dissonance in my head, there’s overlap.

Neal Palles (20:27):

And I think they’re different languages, maybe, you know? I mean, you know, I think, yeah. You know that, yeah. I mean, he set, set him up for success. Do these workouts that you can do, you know, so one, a light bulb went off in my head here, you know, just the other day as I’m trying to run this 90 degree temps and I’m like, I’m doing these longer efforts and I’m still kind of recovering, it takes a little bit longer to recover from, you know, for a hundred, you know, for me, it does at least, and I’m out here a hundred degrees, well, why do you make these runs shorter? You know, <laugh>, you know, why do you make, you know, why don’t you cut the intervals down a little bit, you know? And all of a sudden, oh, everything was started clicking again, you know, and it was setting myself up for success, you know, and, and that, you know, and that carries over to my athletes. You know, I have athletes training for marathons and it’s 95 degrees and it’s a hundred percent humidity. And I’m like, we’re gonna bring down this. You know, some of these runs

Corrine Malcolm (21:33):

Yeah. Take the easier win is kind of the, like thing there.

Neal Palles (21:38):

You know, you’re also, I identifying, helping the athlete, identify what those workouts are. You know, you, you talk about key workouts. Okay. What went well during these workouts, write it down, write it down and have a log and go back to that log. So before your race, you should be reflecting. You should be going back on your training peaks, you know, whatever, whatever your log is, your Excel spreadsheet and look at all your workouts. Oh yeah. I forgot about this. You know, five hour run I did where I just totally suffered and I just grinded through it. Oh yeah. That was great. You know, I, oh yeah. You know, Neil had me do this, you know, 45 minute tempo run, you know, uphill, you know, overhanging, you know, it was crazy. And I did it, you know, and, and, but those are, you know, and you need to mark those. You need to remember those and you need to reflect on those cuz that’s the stuff that’s gonna help you. You’re gonna remember that when you go into the race

Corrine Malcolm (22:39):

Training peaks should give us a little like gold star feature where like you can like tag a workout with that in mind. Maybe I have athletes that do like a weekend summary every week now. And those are great because it gives them it’s it’s insight for me, but it’s, it’s reflection for them. Cause I find that some methods are kind of blazing through post workout comments being like, it was fine. And I’m like, well, it was fine is like not really a reflection. And so they’ve been going in and putting in like a week end, just like reflection on their week. What went well, what didn’t go, well, what do they wanna improve on for next week? You know, what are they like? What did they accomplish? Those kinds of things. And it’s like, to me, that is, that’s a way to kind of like have some of that sink in a little bit more, cuz I do think we have goldfish memory and we like forget that we’ve been training for years or for months. And it’s like, we don’t, we doubt everything when we’re four to six weeks out from a big race

Neal Palles (23:33):

Putting, I, I love this. I saw this the other day is put one instance of success, you know, write down what that instance of success was, you know, maybe for that day, for that workout, for that, that race for, and, and you should be after races, you know, do a race report, you know, what was one instance of success? What was one instance of improvement? And I had one more, I wrote down here I’m cheating and one instance of great effort. Okay. I always have to write things down. Was I skip talking? I’m like, oh, what was that word? I said one incident of great effort. Write those three things down, you know, after each workout and act definitely. And after each race and reflect on them, you know, you don’t have to look at it every day, you know, but maybe every couple weeks look at it.

Corrine Malcolm (24:19):

Yeah. I think when you’re, when you’re in that doubtful period, like I’m in my doubtful pre TBS window in which I got COVID in mid-July and I’m like, I haven’t done the work I’m supposed to do panic, panic, panic. And I have to remind myself that it’s like, okay, well maybe it wasn’t ideal, but you have done work. And so I think in this moment of panic in that four in the, in the final four week countdown window, when for sure, yeah. People start to panic, you know that they haven’t done the work they’re supposed to do that to me is a, a great time to be like, actually like, look at this, like look at this, look at these long runs. I put in, look at this, you know, this great training day I had with had with the friends look at, you know, getting out there. And I remember this day I ate, you know, six oatmeal cream pies. It was great. Like whatever it might be. Right. Like I think it’s important to reflect on those little wins and use those little wins to kind of build towards, I don’t know, totally going, jumping into the unknown on Wednesday

Neal Palles (25:13):

Feeling totally. You got, I mean, you gotta grab the little wins, they’re all over, you know, and they’re in your everyday life look at, you know, and that’s where, you know, even thinking about doing like a gratitude journal, you know, something simple, you know, writing, you know, the, the three things that went well today, you know, maybe that’s part of your workout. Maybe that’s part of your general life, you know, what’s going on. Cause you know, I talk about that, you know, and, and when I’m working with people with therapy clients, you know, that’s, you know what went well, you know, write those three things down.

Corrine Malcolm (25:44):

They can be small things. I’ve, I’ve kept a gratitude journal. And I was like, I got out of bed today.

Neal Palles (25:48):

I got bed today, gold star. I brushed my teeth, you know, I, you know, yeah. Oh my, my Achilles issue was this much better. It was seven instead of 10 today. You know, look at those things, you know, rate those things. Look there, there is improvement every day. There’s good. Every day, sometimes it’s hard to see. And, and that’s why you’ve gotta kind of, you gotta write ’em down in search forms sometimes. And definitely in our work, in our workouts, it’s like, ah, you know, you know, ah, there was a workout a couple weeks ago, one of these bike workouts where I was like, I didn’t finish it. And I was like, well, you got two thirds of the way done. And you were also pretty poop because you, you went up and down hope past the day before, which is gonna tire you out a little bit.

Corrine Malcolm (26:37):

I think doubt is a natural part of being a human obviously. And doubt is a natural part of being an athlete. And so as, as athletes are on this, on this confidence journey, as, as we, as coaches are on this journey to help athletes cultivate that, or at least remind them that they should be confident, right. By like, like you don’t, we don’t say, Hey, be confident. It’s like, we show them. Yeah. We show them why they should be confident. You know? Like these are the things that you are that you’ve accomplished. Li little and big. What, what kind of pitfalls like are, what, what pitfalls, what terrain traps are laying out there in front of us that we need to, that we as coaches or we as athletes need to be cognizant of?

Neal Palles (27:16):

I get that every day, you know, I mean, you know, I, I hear the, the comment. Yes, I did that, but I, you know, I’m not that good at this, you know, and you know, when we think about kind of the, the, the, the, the, the tree structure, that’s when I started going, wait a second, is there something more going on, you know, maybe, you know, maybe going on about there’s self belief, maybe I do need to refer ’em to somebody, you know, that like a mental performance consultant or, you know, a sports psychologist or someone like that. You know, the that’s a possibility I, I look for. Yes. But I look for that consistent, just this doubt, you know, I don’t think so. And then I, then I look at myself as a coach, you know, what, is there something in the workout that I’ve given them that is dis distracting them from that building that confidence, you know, I can’t blame myself entirely.

Neal Palles (28:20):

I can’t take that entire responsibility, but there’s stuff I can control right here. Let’s bring this down in enough. Why are we bringing this down in notes? Well, I want, I want you to feel success, you know, but I, you know, oh, I could do this. I could do this. Ah, I know you can’t, but let’s let’s, but there’s a reason you might not be hitting those times. And it might be that you need to recover, you know, and, and that is something that, you know, we’ve gotta look at, you know, if we are consistently pushing somebody and they’re pushing themselves, how much harder are they pushing themselves? Maybe there’s something else in this person’s life. You know, you know, I just found out one of my athletes has a standup job, standup job in the heat, in, on pavement, all the six to eight hours a day.

Neal Palles (29:08):

And then it, you know, and so I’m giving it to workouts and I’m like, oh, wait a second. Let’s bring these workouts down. You’ve already got some of you’re training. It <laugh>, you know, you’re on your feet, half the day, you know, most of the day. So what can we do, we need to, you look at that big picture. So and use language of confidence, you know, too. You use those words mastery let’s, let’s, let’s focus on that one interval at a time. I’m kind of, I’m just, what are the pitfalls, you know, know, kind, kind of jumped around

Corrine Malcolm (29:42):

There. No, but I think that that’s good. It’s kind of that reframing that, that we have, we have a certain responsibility by choosing language appropriately when you’re communicating, you know, working on this with an athlete, I think

Neal Palles (29:56):

The pitfalls are, you get into the, the trap of, I wanna do more and more and more, and, you know, and it could be, I wanna do this race, this race, this race, this race, wait, wait a second. That’s like three marathons in a row here, you know, and we have a, as a duty as, as a coach, you know, to really help people realize that you’re not, you know, you might not see the success in all three of those races. You might see they’re in the first one. And, you know, three weeks later there may not be that success. And you may have some diminishing returns here. And that, and that’s the other thing that I think confidence is BA has to be based in, is, has to be based in reality. You know, I don’t wanna, I’m not trying to pull the rug out in other people, you from hundred people, you know, and you knows, sorry, guys, you know, you can, you can’t do this, but I want to, you know, we’ll set, set them up for going back to that idea of setting people up for success. You know, if you’re gonna do 300 race, 300 mile races in a three month period, you’re gonna have some fatigue in your legs. So, and so expect, this is where, how we’re gonna push people, you know, push yourself through this. It’s gonna be a little different. Sometimes you get to number three.

Corrine Malcolm (31:10):

Yeah. I’ve definitely had athletes who have been like, Hey, can I do this thing? And I’m like, yeah, like, I think so like, or like, you know, kinda last, maybe a last minute race type of thing. And it’s like, maybe we’re not clear about expectations. Like, you know, maybe it’s a yes. And like, just so you know, like we’re not tapering for this event. Like really go, go out, go out there and enjoy it. Maybe that conversation doesn’t happen. And then they do the thing. And it’s like, maybe not great because we weren’t on that same wavelength of like what the, what the purpose of that event was. And then having to kind of take a step back and be like, Hey, no, it wasn’t a failure. Like, you know, you went into the race with this kind of load on you, and this was my expectation for the race.

Corrine Malcolm (31:48):

And so I think I’ve definitely had to kind of work through that with athletes or athletes who, who do have a failure at a race, right. They’ve had to drop for some reason. And then it’s like, they’re, you know, hungry to jump back to use that fitness, you know, take that fitness somewhere else really quickly. And it’s like, okay, why are we doing that? Are we doing that because you need it to feel confident or are we doing it because you really just want to do that race. And like that to me, is that like, that is almost one of the hardest conversations I have to have with athletes. Every season is the, the failure at an event and the, the need want sensation that they should go immediately do something else.

Neal Palles (32:25):

So I’ll tell you a story. No, I’m thinking of a story of myself. I tell, cause I, you know, I love doing, you know, things that challenge myself a little bit. So year after I, I tried Leadville for the first time I gotta get in next year. So I’m gonna sign up for Leadman, which is this, of course, you know, of course I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna sign up for the camp or anything else. I’m gonna go into Leadman and try to push myself through that. Now I wasn’t necessarily setting myself up for success and I probably should have gotten a coach, you know, cause I’ve never mountain bike before <laugh>, you know, which the whoops, you know, whoops, but I learned a lot, you know? And so there was a, you know, there’s that process too. It’s just, you know, having the ability to reframe that and go, what can I learn from this experience and what can I learn, you know, to go into this next time with, you know, and the next time and the next time and, and have, you know, end up having success in different ways, you know, all along the way.

Neal Palles (33:27):

So you, yeah. I mean, you’re right. Setting yourself up for success. I mean, the first time I tried to qualify for Boston 15 years ago, it was, ah, you know, I didn’t make it. So I’m gonna do two more, two more marathons. I ended up getting Achilles tendonitis and being out for probably about three years after that. So it’s so it’s, you know, you, you gotta set, you know, have those realistic expectations, this isn’t goal setting, and this is where setting realistic goals can come in. And this is where, yeah. I mean, it, it’s hard to, to ex you know, talk about this, oh God, I was about 12. That was 13 years ago. It was in 2009. I was taking a, a coach’s introductory coach’s course. And and I, you know, and I was talking about this idea and this one person was like, well, you know, this person wanted to jump from like being a five hour marathon or to, and this was an example, client five hour marathon or to a three hour marathon or in like one season.

Neal Palles (34:30):

And, and I talked about, let’s set up realistic expectations, you know, what is realistic? You know, how far can we improve in that one year? It might happen. But you know, what’s realistic here and helping people devise those goals, it’s sometimes it’s, you know, people don’t like that, you know, you know, and they don’t like to hear it. Some coaches don’t like to say it, you know, and that’s a hard conversation to have. Yeah. You know, Neil maybe, you know, taking another year of mountain biking, you know, learning how to mountain bike a little bit, you know, maybe getting a mountain bike <laugh> was gonna help you a little bit, you know, and you know, and then, you know, and so that’s setting you, setting people up for success, you know, probably what have I wanted to hear it? No, what have I listened? Probably if I had good rapport, you know, that coach had good rapport with me probably, you know, I listen to people, so

Corrine Malcolm (35:27):

Yeah. And I think that’s the conversation of like, Hey, like this is our, these are our shortterm goals, but what are our long-term goals? And kind of framing the, like the spectrum of like, we’re, you’re gonna develop towards these things. Like, so it’s like it’s bite size pieces of, of a season in a way. And then within that season are like the smaller, the, the smaller bite size pieces, which is a terrible analogy of, you know, of, of mastery of those skills. And then you can grow and grow and grow and grow and grow in that. In our email. You you mentioned, you alluded to having read something recently that was kind of was kind of front of mind. And I was wondering if if you wanted to kind of, kind of take, take a stab at what that was.

Neal Palles (36:07):

You can read a lot of things as athletes out there there’s so much oh yeah. Social media, which, you know, social media and, and magazines, a lot of literature out there and some are really good ideas and some are not necessarily good ideas, but maybe not necessarily good ideas for, for you as an individual and take everything with a grain of salt. Cuz what, you know, reading this article, I was reading it and it was like this isn’t setting people up for success because if, if maybe if you were an elite athlete and had a really good ability to recover this, these areas of workouts, would’ve worked really well for 55 year old and 54 year old, maybe, maybe not. You know, I’m not saying that I did these workouts <laugh> but what I’m saying is I looked at ’em and, and thought about it is, or if you were a beginner and you jumped into this and said, you know, I’m gonna do these workouts. So, and, and you know, early on, you know, 25 years ago, you know, look at these, I look at magazines, runners, world and all these great workouts and I would do these workouts. And sometimes they were, sometimes they did, you know, and there was a, there was a great book out that it, you know, got years ago, they was like, okay, learn how to run, you know, run a marathon in three days a week, you know? And sometimes that works. Sometimes it doesn’t, you know, and it depends on who you are.

Corrine Malcolm (37:44):

And then I feel like that comparison trap comes outta that too, in which it’s like, well, why can’t I do these workouts? Or, or it’s, you know, so, and so says I can do these workouts so I should be able to, and then not be like, I, I feel like that’s just that, that is like icing on the cake of the, the Strava comparison of the Instagram comparison of all those things.

Neal Palles (38:03):

It’s frustrating because you could see, you know, see the authors and you’d go, wow, this is like a really, really good coach. Neil knows what he’s doing. So I should listen to what Neil says, you know? And, and you go, wait a second. You know, if you look at that and go, maybe for some people, but this is set, is it setting me up for success? Maybe there’s ways I can alter these workouts or maybe these workouts really aren’t right for where I’m at. And that’s okay. Here’s, here’s another piece that I was gonna mention is this, this idea of self-compassion, you know, and the going in going back to this idea of acceptance and self-compassion, you’re gonna have all these feelings, these comparisons are coming up, you know, you got take that deep breath, catch yourself and refocus to where you are right now. Okay. That’s you’re gonna look at that magazine and go, ah, you know, why can’t I do this? That’s okay. That’s okay, go, come back to where you are right now, where your feet are, have compassion for yourself. And I know there are so many athletes out there. It’s that? That’s a dirty word.

Corrine Malcolm (39:12):

Yeah. It’s easy to be like, oh, that’s I don’t need that. And it’s like, well, no, everyone, everyone needs that. And it’s, I think that, that it ties in really well to the idea of, of, you know, being present, right? Like if you’re, if you’re being present, you can be self-compassionate. If you’re working, if you’re running the, the mile that you’re in, you can be self-compassionate. And I feel like, you know, that, that it shouldn’t be a dirty word for anyone. It should be something that we all, that we all strive to put into practice in our, in our days. And that I see that, I see that in emails from athletes where it’s like, okay, you gotta, you gotta cut yourself some slack, like, you know, email doesn’t provide the best tone at times. And it’s like, maybe if I talk to this person on the phone, I will feel different about their situation. But I, I hear that. And I see that and I feel that from athletes of this, you know, they gotta, you gotta be compassionate towards yourself in the interval workout that you’re doing, that’s uncomfortable in the, in the race scenario. And then in all those moments in between, I think that, you know, we’re, we are our own worst critics. That’s a, you know, a common, common bit of vernacular, but it’s, it’s true. And it’s, it’s athletes are not immune to that.

Neal Palles (40:16):

There’s no doubt. You know, I was like, I was thinking, so I made something up the other day is when you compare, come back to here, you know, when you catch yourself, catch yourself, comparing, come back to here, come back to right now, you know, and it’s gonna be, you are gonna read those magazine articles. You know, you’re gonna feel those moments of self doubt. Take that deep breath and just come back to where you are right now. This interval, this, this minute, this minute on this hillside. Yeah. There’s, you know, I probably mentioned down the last podcast, there was this awesome moment where I, you know, I’m running down, this is almost 30 miles in this race and there are these beautiful wild flowers. And I tell people, look at the, look at the flowers, you know, notice the flowers. Yeah. Beautiful yellows and purples, you know? And I was just like, just caught up in joy in that moment of like, I got to be right here in this mountain side that that’s all I care about, you know? And then just keep moving <laugh>

Corrine Malcolm (41:16):

Yeah. And then, then you gotta keep, keep running the mile mile that you’re in. Okay. So what, what are, you know, some practical things that an athlete, you know, sit sitting with this in August, maybe looking towards fall races, maybe they had a good or a bad experience in a, an earlier season race. And they’re, you know, they’ve got one more, they’ve got one more big one to CLO close out the year before we roll, roll towards winter. And I’m, I’m wondering what, what can those athletes do to, to reframe, you know, their confidence, if they’re in a place maybe where they’re a little bit shaken

Neal Palles (41:50):

Number one is, is go review your training peaks, review your log, you know, whatever you’re using, you know, review it, look for those successes, dig, you know, really, really dig into that. Yeah, I think number two is, you know, I wanna talk, I wanna touch on, you know, self talk, you know, I mean, you know, and you really should be six weeks out, you know you know, four weeks out, you know, it’s, it’s getting later in the game to practice positive or help more helpful self talk, but look how you’re talking to yourself, write out three things that might be helpful for you. So think about motivational self-talk and I like putting it in kind of the third person. You’re great. You, you got this, you know, use something that’s, you know, it’s realistic, you got this next hill, you got this hill saying that to yourself over and over again, practice this on your next training, run, practice this you know, have it written out.

Neal Palles (42:56):

And I PostIt note on your computer, look at it in the morning. It’s sometimes it’s hard to believe, but once you start practicing it, you start coming to that. Now the other pieces that going back to that idea of catch yourself, when you compare, catch yourself, when you start going into, when you’re getting hooked by the negative, you know, but by all the unhelpful stuff, catch yourself, take that deep breath, you know, and refocus on what you can control right here. Right now you’ve practiced all this stuff. You’ve practiced your nutrition. You’ve practiced, you know, you’ve, there’s gonna be a rainstorm now. I’m hope past next, you know, next week. Okay. I’m just letting you know, you’ve practiced running in the rain. You know, you’ve practiced dealing with blisters, you know, remember that, you know this and you can control that, you know, and oh, you know, you forgot a gel.

Neal Palles (43:53):

Okay. Let’s but you practice going to the aid station, grabbing potatoes, you know, so you’ve practiced all this stuff. Remember those little things that you can control right there in the moment you can control your effort consistently, you know, what is your effort right here right now, catch yourself when your mind is taken you off on the wild, it’s trying to push you around, cuz it’s gonna do that. That’s what our mind is trained to do. It does that, you know, to a lesser extent for some people and, and you know, and for some people a lot, you know, and that’s okay. It just varies. And it’s coming back recognizing when you’re getting caught in that and coming back to what can you can control right now. So I think those are the best things, you know, practice self-talk PR practice, the controllables practice, being flexible with your mind.

Neal Palles (44:46):

You’re gonna notice these things. You’re gonna be uncomfortable. Your mind is gonna say mean things to you, you know, <laugh> and, and you know, it’s gonna, it’s gonna say mean things and, but recognize when you’re getting caught up and don’t, you know, this is where, okay, thank you mind. Thank you for pushing me around. I’m gonna come back to what I can control right now. And that’s gonna get you to the finish line. You know, that’s gonna get you to the next step, you know, and if you fall, that’s okay too. You’re gonna be able to get back up and do it again and do it again, you know? And it’s like, I’ve, I’ve tried that mountain bike grace a couple times. I’m gonna get a coach by the way, you know, so, you know, I have to get a coach this year cuz you know but I get back up well, you know, from yourself to set myself up for success, you know, and you know, and that’s, and that’s just something that, you know, you have to focus on. And so yeah, that’s, you know, that’s how I, you, I know I could do it. It’s just getting that, those moments where I gonna have that success and, and, and build off of that.

Corrine Malcolm (45:53):

I think that’s great. I think, I think those are, I think those are really, really practical take. You can take it to the next step. You can write those things on a post, like on, on a postcard thing that you’re gonna put in your drop bag. So you can remember it during the race. I just said, UTM B talks with a couple guys and I said, you know what? Cor, Myer’s a great place to drop out. Don’t do it SHPE. Lock’s a great place to drop out. Don’t do it. No, don’t run the UT M B 80 miler. If you can, if you have to walk every single step, get your, you know, have your crew walk you outta that aid station.

Neal Palles (46:23):

Yeah. Don’t, don’t sit by the fire and hope, you know, pass don’t, don’t go there. You know, you keep going. Yeah, no, you know, know that, know that, that that’s the fire. No, no, don’t go near there.

Corrine Malcolm (46:35):

Yeah. Everyone that listens to this is pretty is ha I think I I’m hoping has been putting these things into practice and if not, if they want more practice with these things your coach, but you also work on, on these skills with athletes and, and so where can, where can people reach out to you if they are, if they are interested in learning more?

Neal Palles (46:54):

Yeah, they could, they could find and what is my Instagram handle? I always forget. It’s too long. It’s at Colorado psychotherapy and sport, so they could find me there too.

Corrine Malcolm (47:15):

Awesome. We’ll link all of that in the show notes, Neil, as always, this is a pleasure. Thanks so much for coming on.



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