If you want to achieve a high goal, you’re going to have to take some chances.Alberto Salazar

What was once impossible is now possible. History has shown that to be true over and over again. The imagination sparks new ideas. Grab hold of an idea then continue to believe it is possible. Gradually the steps to achieve a goal begin to appear.

The most successful athletes are innovative, highly creative individuals. When they grasp onto an idea, they stick with it taking the necessary steps to make it happen. Tenacity is a virtue.

Self efficacy is a person’s belief in his abilities. It is the root of self-esteem, determining how athletes think, behave and feel. Champion athletes embrace a strong sense of self-efficacy which influence their approach to goals, tasks and challenges. These qualities create a perfect storm, setting athletes up to break records.

Roger Bannister did something most people believed was humanly impossible when he broke the 4-minute mile. Fast forward to the present and the stage is being set for another running record, running a sub 2 hour marathon. It will be done, but when?

Currently Geoffrey Mutai from Kenya holds the unofficial current record of 2:03:02 during this year’s Boston Marathon.

Desiree Davila is the women’s favorite for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials scheduled for January 2012. Davila, of Michigan, is the top-ranked woman, who ran 2:22:38 in the Boston Marathon in April.

When runners are going full out, beyond what they have trained for, there is a chance of “hitting the wall.” Due to the enormous physical strain, sometimes your body just can’t give you anymore. It’s energy has become depleted.

The mind is a powerful thing. It has the ability to overcome physical exhaustion. Studies show pain thresholds are an individual thing. A runner’s mindset has the potential to overcome physical limitations. Focusing on the pain stops runner’s in their tracks, causing them to give up.

Davila is seeking running nirvana, performing in the zone. Although Kenyans have been dominating marathon running, during the Boston Marathon Davila was ready to change all that. Her mindset believes now is the time for U.S. to begin winning races again.

Davila understands what it takes to be a winner. Understanding how to access the zone at will is critical for consistent results.

1. Confidence in yourself – Davila’s perception changed when she raced in the Boston Marathon, coming in second. Now she committed to regaining a first place win for the U.S. Davila has proof that she is capable of running a difficult race, keeping her pace.

2. Focus on the end result – The goal is in the forefront of her mind. Davila is dedicated to setting a new U.S. record. Kenyan runners continue to set the world records. She wants to prove Americans are still in the race.

3. Enjoying the process – Enjoying the race contributes to breakthrough performance. Although she dedicates all her energy to training, Davila loves to run. The challenge keeps pushing her to excel. Satisfaction from reaching milestones is important to keep going even when your body is screaming at you to stop.

4. Remaining calm, no matter what – Is all about keeping calm regardless of the circumstances. Marathons stress out your body. Fighting inner critical thoughts is energy draining. Experience leads to understanding what to expect. Maintaining clarity, understanding what is within your control and maintaining positive thoughts are critical for peak performance. By staying calm athletes learn to tap into reservoirs of energy.

5. Excitement about what is possible – The pursuit of excellence is exciting. Davila feels exhilaration for being the American frontrunner. She is looking forward to the Olympics to bring home the gold.

Don’t misunderstand being in the zone as passive. It is anything but passive. Approaching the zone, with the intent on peak performance, requires relaxed-aggression. This state requires a calm, clear mind along with performing with authority and conviction. Performing in this state requires practice.

Davila has experienced the wall.  She knows how to move through it. Running marathons requires physical and mental endurance. Winners train their mindset as well as their bodies. Belief in potential is powerful. Her personal motivation to win for the U.S. team gives her an edge to reach her goals.

Activity: Review the steps to reach the zone. For each step list the qualities you already possess. Write them down being as specific as possible. Which areas are strong and which ones need additional work? Think about a time when you performed and it appeared effortless. Imagine competing and feeling relaxed during your event. How would that impact your performance? Learning to access the zone at will is a process. The strategies you learn along the way as you seek zone performance will build upon themselves.

Consistent peak performance at events depends upon your mindset. At the time of your event, mindset makes the difference between best and average results. Elite athletes realize there is very little competition for those who go the extra mile. On race day all of your training is behind you.   During your race success is 90% mindset.