I've previously written on the topic of Breakthrough Performances, and as it pertains to the current article in particular, ask yourself: "Where do I have my best workouts?" Which trail, route, course, or track always treats you well? Or, which place do you visit sporadically that seems to allow you to have your best workouts? I refer to such places as "havens."
Maybe it’s the scenery, or the weather, or fond memories, but regardless, I hope you have special hallowed ground that you can visit when you’re feeling like you’re on the verge of a Breakthrough Performance. The other question to ask is: "Whose voice do I hear in my head when I need to keep pushing myself?"
Years ago, when I went to my own haven (the track at my alma mater), I had one of my fastest track workouts within a several-year period. It also helped that I ran into my old college track coach as I was jogging down to the track. We only had a single minute to chat, but as I turned to keep jogging he said in a purposeful voice, "Hey...workout hard today!" I had his voice in my head during a few moments of the workout and it kept me focused. Again, I clocked-in some of my fastest times without an increase in perceived exertion. This is the power of positive self-talk and imagery done correctly.
Who is the voice inside your head? I assume it's your own voice 90% of the time, but what about the other 10% of the time (for example)? It’s fine to have multiple voices in your head when you train, as long as you don’t need a psychotherapist to sort it out.
In Stephen King's book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (what a genius mind!), he states that he often has the voice of his wife (also a writer) in his head when he was contemplating decisions about his stories (or similar). He welcomed an extra (conjured) voice to help him work through decisions about his writing. So again, whose voice is in your head when you engage in self-talk? Is it various voices? Do some serve you better than others? Do you practice self-talk?
In sum, not only should you have a haven where you can go for A-game workouts (King created his own haven, as in his own special writing room in his), but you should also have a trusted default setting for the voice of your internal dialogue while training. You don't need a voice all of the time (shutting off the brain is a hallmark of elite athletics and a central theme of my book), but when you do have a “special voice,” choose one wisely. Keep it in reserve, as in "Break Glass in Case of Emergency". Similarly, don’t ruin the dignity of your haven by going there too often because as I stated in the previous article about Breakthrough Performances, “if everything is special, then nothing is special.”