When you go into a training session, there should be a reason, purpose and end goal to that session. If you are following a training program, each session should be in a certain order focusing on building the appropriate energy system, while reaching important milestones along the way. It’s very similar to reading a book: to understand the story, you start at the first page and end on the last page. If you were to pick up a book and read random pages, the story would get very confusing. Without knowing the beginning, middle or end to the story, the words are random and have no meaning.
This is very similar to your training. Each session is part of the bigger story. Each session needs to be done in a certain order so you can continue towards the end of the story, which is your finish line. When your brain tells your body to sleep in late, to go harder during your recovery days, to slow down during your max effort sprints, to do what your friends are doing or to keep up with another athlete during your recovery day, use the following tips to help re-set your brain and continue writing your story from beginning to end.
- Understand why you are doing this training session and what the purpose of the session is. What is the session trying to accomplish? Although each session should be treated with importance, you need to know the purpose of each session. “This easy pool session helps me to recover and feel loose for tomorrow’s hard run.” Most annual training plans are written in blocks. You may be in an aerobic build block with most workouts being low intensity, or in a bike volume block where you are riding 5x/week, or in a speed block with higher intensity track intervals. Understand where you are in your training calendar and the purpose of each session or training block.
- Understand the benefits of the training session. This means learning some of the science behind each session. “This easy pool session helps me to recover because the gentle movement brings more blood and oxygen to the muscles and helps to clear metabolic waste.” If you have a Coach, they should have a basic understanding of Exercise Physiology and what’s happening to your body during your sessions. Talk to you coach about the science, or learn the basic concepts on your own.
- Picture the benefits of the training session happening. See your body starting the healing or growth process. Imagine more blood flowing to the muscles and picture oxygen being transferred to your body tissues. Imagine what that must look like! If your goal is to build strength, imagine your muscle fibers growing and getting stronger. If your building speed, see those neuromuscular junctions firing with spark and energy. It’s your imagination- make it as vivid and lively as possible.
- Make your movie. See your training session happening. Complete it from start to finish. Start with waking up feeling amazing. Review anything that could go wrong. (During your swim, you had paddle sets and forgot to bring your paddles- how do you overcome this?). Think about how great you are feeling during the session. This is a quick movie- no more than 30 seconds from start to finish. End the movie with you feeling accomplished and successful in the goal. You can practice this imagery for race day as well. Picture your race happening from start to finish and play the movie how you want to see it. Be sure to imagine you being happy, confident and strong in every situation.
- Start your training session! If you start to go off course during the session, take a deep breath, remember how strong and confident you are and then repeat steps 1-4.
Your mind is a very powerful friend or enemy during training and racing. Use that power to accomplish your end goal: being a faster, stronger, happier, more confident racer. These small daily routines can help.
For more information on Mental Skills in training and racing, contact Nicole Boger at Nicole@TeamSoulSports.com. Team Soul Sports will be holding Mental Strength camps and clinics in the South Florida area this summer. Visit www.TeamSoulSports.com to learn more about our Team and how we help athletes to become faster, stronger, happier, more confident racers.