Training Your Brain
Florence Griffith Joyner broke both the female 100m and 200m world records in 1988, both of which still stand today. At the 1988 Olympics, rumours circled that her impressive muscular build was the result of performance- enhancing drugs. Despite the atmosphere these views created, Joyner, also known as Flo-Jo, successfully withstood the pressure, gaining 3 golds and 1 silver medal.
Flo-Jo claimed that running is a ‘mental game’. She and her coach, husband Al Joyner, were very aware of the necessity to train the mind to perform under pressure in addition to the body. Al would run behind Florence in training, every time she slowed marginally, Al would whisper in her ear, “I’m going to overtake you”. This created her astounding ability to produce speed bursts, which gave her the edge when racing. Her training gave her the mental resilience to perform under pressure. She ensured she was used to running in a pressurised environment.
The importance of remaining relaxed under pressure wasn’t lost on Flo- Jo. During competition, she expressed her unique sense of style through her clothing, keeping true to her self-identity.
As an athlete, you have little control of the environment and atmosphere in which you compete. Pressure is often evident and all you can do is build the mental resilience to function within it. Flo- Jo’s attitude allowed her to do this, maximising her physical performance. Everyone can learn from this. In situations you can’t control, you must be prepared to be your best self!