When you’re in the Red Bull X-Alps, it’s important to stay in the ‘zone’
When it comes to adventure races like the Red Bull X-Alps, it’s important to be in the ‘zone’. But what does this mean – and what role does psychology play when you’re battling challenging conditions, the weather, your rivals and yourself.
The concept of ‘flow’ was developed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi and describes the mental state in which you are fully focused on what you are doing. In this mindset, you are positive, immersed in the task and performing at your best. Put simply, you’re performing at your peak.
A simple way of understanding it is via a chart, with your skill level on the horizontal axis and the level of challenge on the vertical. If your skill level is high and you only attempt basic challenges, you will be in the bottom right of the chart – and more than likely bored. On the other hand, try too challenging a task when your skill level is low and you will find yourself in the top left of the diagram – stressed, frightened and, quite possibly, in serious trouble. The key is to keep yourself in the “flow channel” between the two, matching the level of your challenges to your ability.
Red Bull X-Alps athletes have extraordinary skills and so can set themselves remarkably difficult challenges – just consider some of the distances run or the conditions some of the athletes have been flying in. Still, they will also be highly attuned to where their limits are. And if they consistently exceed them, they will quickly become highly stressed, exhausted and burnt out.
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Photos © zooom / Honza Zak