For example, at the beginning of the training process, the body might reach the state that the brain associates with its limits after 1 mile covered in 8 minutes. But after several weeks of training, the same runner’s body might be in a much less extreme state of stress after covering 1 mile in 8 minutes. Based on this new feedback, the brain might calculate that the runner now must run 1 mile somewhat faster than 8 minutes to reach the same limiting state.

This subconscious calculation would then generate a conscious belief in the runner that he or she should now set a goal to run 1 mile in, say, 7:30. So that’s the sort of biological evidence on which performance beliefs are based. As for the experiential evidence, imagine two runners, Susan and Liz, of roughly equal ability.

Susan and Liz race each other over a distance of 5K, and Liz finishes 5 seconds ahead of Susan with a time of 20:12. Two weeks later, Susan runs another 5K race, in which Liz does not participate, and cracks the 20-minute barrier, running 19:56. Upon finding out about this performance, Liz, who until that time did not believe she could run a sub-20-minute 5K, recalculates her potential. Knowing that she can run faster than Susan, and now also knowing that Susan can run faster than 20:00, Liz embraces the belief that she, too, can run faster than 20:00. Sure enough, in another 5K race the very next week, Liz matches Susan’s time of 19:56.



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