I first saw the acronym PMA on Cap City Cyclocross’s Web Site when I was looking for races to put on my schedule. Here is how they describe PMA:
Positive Mental Attitude. Racing is hard. Winning is great. Having fun is even better. We’ve all been there; the post race blues due to a mechanical, fatigue or lack of fitness. While we 100% believe that racing is fun and competition is great, walking away with a positive experience is as much on the racer as it is the race director.
I always thought that it was maybe a little corny, but they were trying to keep the series fun and not super serious, but what if PMA is the key to reaching a higher level of performance? What if the best way to win is PMA? That’s exactly what the science is saying.
Endure by Alex Hutchinson is a new best seller about how the mind regulates the body, and it is PMA that allows athletes to go beyond their limits.
We’ve all heard those stories of people lifting cars to free their trapped child or pro athletes playing through a broken bone. We know from the 40% rule that when the mind is saying “we’re done, that’s all we got”, we’re only about 40% done and the mind is holding back the reserves in case we need to sprint away from a lion or bear.
The key to getting more from the brain than that 40% is to convince it, through PMA, that we’re not really working that hard. When you’re at the end of a long race and your mind is telling you that you’re just cooked and you got nothing left, smile and tell your mind “we got this!”. You are only 40% cooked and yes, you can do a finishing sprint.
We see the high performing athletes around us, and usually they have a PMA about them. They seem to be having fun and smiling even though they’re legs are screaming and they are suffering through a tough race.
Before the race starts, if you’re feeling nervous, that’s good. Turn that nervousness to excitement, smile, and channel it to PMA. Tell yourself you can do so much more than what your brain allows.