I am always impressed and humbled by the amount of work that Smart Athlete Clients get done in a day. YOU do so much each day and it takes constant work to stay focused, motivated and positive.
Staying positive doesn’t mean that you have to be all cheery-rainbows all the time, but it does mean staying focused on the next step and your own improvement. Watch for feelings of frustration, negative-self-talk or other signs you are getting off track so that you can then actively work to pull yourself back to working on what you can work on right now.
In training, we are working towards personal bests, but not every day is a personal best. Effective training will push you mentally and physically to grow.
The below episode of the Consummate Athlete Podcast with Rebecca Rusch (A.K.A. The Queen of Pain!) has been really popular and for good reason. Rebecca is a very hard working person. She started into cycling late, as many endurance athletes do, and she still embraces multiple sports/movements while balancing racing, work, family and, increasingly, her own series of events/camps. Just like ‘the rest of us’, Rebecca has to work on what she says to her self (self-talk) and actively work to stay positive during rides. Just like ‘the rest of us’ she has setbacks and last-minute changes of plans (like not being able to start this year’s Dirty Kanza because life was too busy! Yes, the Queen of Pain had to DNS! And it is OK!
Focus on Feeling vs. power
It is also important to embrace and work actively to hone your FEELING (or RPE-Rate of Percieved exertion). By learning to deal with both your expectations for how hard something will be and how it feels in the moment you can unlock a huge amount of mental toughness and performance (if not also happiness!).
If you have found yourself upset or frustrated with a workout or race then it is likely there was a disconnect between how it felt and how you expected it to be.
It can be helpful to reflect on why something SHOULD feel different at this time? Or why does how you are feeling make sense? Were the intervals/workout type new to you? Were you possibly pushing too hard, maybe you could have completed the set by backing off a bit?
or maybe the workout/race you are in is REALLY hard and meant to push you to your limit! AND maybe you did have had a tough week and the workout SHOULD feel harder and maybe not be your best. You might need to back off a bit or do shorter reps or fewer reps … and that is ok too!
(see Bernstein’s Myth of Stress for more on this ‘Should’ concept and associated exercises)
You may remember THIS POST on ‘Holding Your Hand in the Fire’ and how in training we are ultimately aiming to become more and more comfortable and skilled while in the ‘red zone’ (or the fire I suppose). So in your intervals when your mind is saying “stop you suck” try sitting with the discomfort and seeing if you can tell yourself “I can do 10 more seconds here” or “keep pushing this is just like those hard last moments in a race”. Attaching those feelings in training to the ‘critical moments in racing’ is a huge boost to your training.
Another related podcast from the Consummate Athlete is ‘Endure’ with Alex Hutchinson. We discuss many factors around endurance and learning to endure longer while in discomfort. Find, read the show notes and find links to Alex’s book Endure on the show notes page and listen below!