The Mental preparation for training and racing is very often overlooked. So many athletes train hard and just expect the mind to automatically be there on race day as well. While a good training session will always add to a positive attitude, we cannot allow to have a bad training day set us back mentally. Trying to just “convince” yourself that you are doing well is not enough and using this strategy will most likely fail in moments of struggle since it's not based on actual experiences.
Having a positive mindset is something that needs to be practiced. As you train your muscles and cardiovascular systems, the brain also needs to be whipped into shape. Many athletes wait until race week to start that part of the preparation and are then surprised because they don’t feel a difference in their attitude or mental state. You wouldn’t wait to do your long run or tempo repeats until the last week, so why wait with the mind training?
In our last webinar: Mental Toughness, we talked about feeding positive feelings and experiences:
Focusing on a positive experience will create a strong positive belief. That belief will then attract more positive experiences and, in turn, confirm the positive belief.
Positive Experience: “I was able to swim from one buoy to the next without stopping!”
Positive belief: “I CAN swim in open water without panicking”
Next Experience: “I was able to do that distance in open water, I Should be able to go further”
Confirmed positive Belief:“I CAN go further in open water without panicking!”
Careful though, this process is also true with negative thoughts…dwelling on negative experiences will create a negative belief, which will attract more negative experiences to confirm that belief.
It is imperative to feed the correct feeling to attract the correct experience!
EXERCISE: Try this to practice! For one week, write down one positive thing about your training. It can be something you did, improved on, realized, or just a good experienced. Doing this will force you to focus on the happy moments of your training that will mentally help you get over whatever bad ones that everyone eventually has.
Here is an example from one of our athletes…he did a fantastic job!
Monday: Positive for the day: Webinar
Tuesday: Positive for the day: I was able to do 16 & 17 strokes in pool per length & enjoyed tempo runs
Wednesday: Positive for the day: Prayer, coaching and practice and I got the 3,000 meters in today - I had a high level of anxiety and uncertainty as I headed to the pool but determined to focus and take it easy (not try and overdo it) – taking from Monday’s Webinar – I knew I had done 600 meters straight before so I could do 500…now I just had to stay relaxed to do it 5 times.
Thursday: Positive for the day: averaged almost 18 mph on bike; solid 3 mile run after bike
Friday: Positive for the day: I love running; feel like I am understanding swim mechanics a little bit better
Saturday: Positive for the day: first long team ride - misjudged my time – went 30min less than on the schedule but I it was a great morning!
Start changing your attitude and creating your best mindset. Regardless of how hard the training session is, there is always something positive in there. Look deep and you’ll find much more than you ever expected.