I must point out here that Salazar did not tell Ritzenhein that he was ready to run a recordbreaking 5K simply for the sake of building Ritzenhein’s confidence. He did it because he truly believed that Ritz could run a record-breaking 5K. Nor did Noakes say that he would find a coach who would tell his son he could break a world record whether the coach actually believed it or not. He said he would find a coach who really believed it. No runner can go out and break a record simply because a coach says he can. While experiences such as confidence-building pep talks from coaches can influence the brain’s calculations about what the body can do, the most influential calculations by far occur during the runs themselves, when biological feedback, which cannot lie, has the final say. This is why experiments in which athletes are given false information about their pace in time trial efforts (specifically, they are told they are going slower than they really are) have no effect on their performance.1 While an athlete in such an experiment may know that, for example, she can pedal a stationary bike at 200 watts for one hour, she cannot suddenly increase her power output to 210 watts and sustain it for the remainder of an hour just because a man in a lab coat falsely tells her she is pedaling at 190 watts when in fact she is already churning out 200 watts and her body knows it.
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