By Lesley Paterson and Simon Marshall
Create a new, tougher version of yourself by faking it.
It turns out that following the advice to “just be yourself” might be the worst thing you can do when it comes to XTERRA racing! Your true self might be shy, self-critical, and easily intimidated by the competition, but what if for just a few hours you could try on a new athletic identity—someone who thrives in competition, has tons of confidence, refuses to quit, and doesn’t care what other people think? XTERRA World Champion Lesley Paterson does just this. She competes under the guise of a gritty boxer, Paddy McGinty. As Lesley describes him:
“Paddy is not a graceful or pretty athlete but a rough-around-the-edges fighter who WANTS tough conditions. The harder the better. When the skies opened in Maui for the XTERRA World Championships, McGinty was licking his lips because I know he can out-suffer anyone. You can dump him on his arse a thousand times, and he just refuses to quit. When he’s on the struggle bus and in a lot of pain, he will keep raising the stakes by asking, “is that all you’ve got? Bring it."
Lesley’s husband, Dr Simon Marshall, a performance psychologist, knows the power of an alter-ego is backed by science. “Research evidence supports the notion of ‘embodied cognition’ -- pretending to be have traits you don’t actually possess on a day-to-day basis. We call these temporary identities alter egos and they aren’t just for superhero movies. Using an alternative identity also has a strong therapeutic role in psychology and new evidence suggests that it can actually alter your biochemistry, pain tolerance, and overall readiness for challenging tasks.” It seems “fake it ’til you make it” is now backed by science.
Lesley and Simon have found that many athletes are relieved to know that they don’t have to undergo a complete personality makeover to develop the athletic identity they want. It’s far less intimidating to simply suit up as a new character rather than tackle years of entrenched thinking. Stepping into some new shoes is a great way to start. They’ve even created an alter ego development kit to help you flesh out your character, with examples from how Lesley created Paddy McGinty.
Join Lesley and Simon in San Diego for their “Braveheart Highland Games” Triathlon Training Camp (Also a Great Gift Idea!)
- Lesley Paterson’s “Braveheart Highland Games” Triathlon Training Camp.
- Jan 31-Feb 3rd, 2019. San Diego, CA.
- For information and Registration: