Psyched Up, Psyched Out; Building the Elite Athlete; Scientific American Presents; by Michael Shermer, side bar by Naomi Lubick; 6 Page(s)
Although I was trained as an experimental psychologist, I didn't become interested in how psychology could enhance athletic performance until 1981. That's when I began preparing to compete in the first annual 3,000-mile, nonstop transcontinental bicycle race, the Race Across America. I thought I had better try any technique I could find to prepare my mind for the pain and pressures of what Outside magazine calls "the world's toughest race."
In addition to riding 500 miles a week and subjecting my body to such "treatments" as chiropractic, Rolfing, mud baths, megavitamins, iridology and electrical stimulation, I listened to motivational tapes. I meditated. I chanted. I attended seminars by Jack Schwarz, an Oregon-based healing guru who taught us "voluntary controls of internal states." I contacted Gina Kuras, a hypnotherapist who taught me self-hypnosis to control pain, overcome motivational lows, maintain psychological highs and stay focused. I got so good at going deep into a hypnotic trance that when ABC's Wide World of Sports came to my home to film a session, Gina could not immediately bring me back, causing her to fear that I had somehow harmed myself.