Rational and irrational thoughts in workouts

Normally, we believe that our state of mind is defined by the events or events that occur around us. Although these facts determine a large part of our emotional well-being or discomfort, it is not the only factor that explains it. The rational and irrational thoughts that we have in our workouts are what mark many of our results.

If we assume that only the “facts” mark our state of mind, we would only be in an adequate emotional balance when the circumstances that surround us were positive. However, on numerous occasions events happen that do not make us feel good (for example, not having been able to complete the kilometers we had planned to travel with the bike in a specific training session).

If only the facts set our mood, we would have little or nothing to do before these unpleasant situations that occur around us. However, the factor that most explains the discomfort caused by some of the things that happen to us are our thoughts , or rather, our way of interpreting what happened.

On numerous occasions we give ourselves negative or irrational messages about what happened. That is why it is important to differentiate rational from irrational thinking.

RATIONAL thinking:

  • It is verifiable, evident, consistent with reality, that is, it is based on facts or reliable data and therefore it can be shown that it corresponds to reality (Ex. “I have not improved my time compared to the previous marathon ”).
  • Produces emotions of low intensity and short duration.
  • It helps to achieve goals and facilitate the appropriate action for my own purposes, as long as these are realistic, especially in regard to the expectations we have of reality, others and myself (Ex. ”I will train hard to get it in the next race ”).


  • Produces a negative feeling, sensation or emotion of medium or strong intensity and of long duration (eg “I have not lost time because I am not good enough to run”). >
  • Exaggerates the negative consequences of an event. It is a thought that contains words or implications such as horrible, terrible, frightening, I can not bear it, how is it possible? Never, always … (Ex. “It is terrible not to have exceeded my mark”, “I will never make it”).
  • They reflect unrealistic demands or obligations on oneself or on others – it must be, it must, it should, I hoped, I / I have been disappointed.

Irrational or dysfunctional thinking has the power to induce the athlete into deep insecurity and a perception of little worth. It is important to be aware of what kind of thoughts and messages we use when we fail in our goals.

In order to destroy irrational thinking, we can ask ourselves the following:

  1. Ensure the evidence of my interpretation: How do I know that what I am telling myself is true ?; How could I prove it ?; Why do I know this is true ?; To continue believing it, I have to find facts to support it. Do I have facts? (Ex. What evidence do I have to affirm that I am not good for swimming? Have I never managed to exceed the mark that I have proposed?).
  2. If I find data to support that thought: Is it so terrible ?; I can live with that?; Well it is so, so what? (Eg. Being the first in my sport is important, but… I accept that I have to keep working to achieve it, is it so terrible not to be the first in the first competition I do ?; Maybe swimming is not the sport that suits me best. gives, but there are many others to practice).
  3. Seeking the profitability of my thinking: What advantages is my way of thinking bringing me ?; Is seeing reality like that, is it making me feel / act better? If I can like this, do I solve my problems? (Eg. What do I get thinking I’m not good for swimming? Does it help me improve my technique? Or on the contrary, does it discourage me and make training the worst time of the day?).

Therefore, there are many ways of thinking a little more rationally in the face of the small or large “failures” that we face every day. Every athlete must be motivated to continue aiming high, but these goals will not make sense if they are “irrationally” proposed, or if their thoughts about whether they are achieved or not “attack and blame them”, taking away motivation and energy, instead of help you keep improving.

Therefore, it is convenient to be fair with yourself and not only focus on what has NOT been achieved, always trying to recognize and reinforce the achievements that are achieved, and for this, nothing better than to reflect and honestly review the Athlete career carried out, in which, most likely, there will be more achievements than failures, otherwise… will you continue, today, fighting to improve in your specialty?

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