Sunday, August 7, 2016

A Page from the Journal

Sunday afternoons: time to open up my Monday work/run/life schedule again and review the past week; this is something I have done almost every week for as long as I can remember. I was prompted to write on this topic today after doing a six-week review of my Believe training journal this afternoon (btw-if you don't own one now, go get one immediately!). From looking at mid-June to today, what I saw overall was progress, nothing earth-shattering, but things gracefully moving in the right direction. 

I'm really enjoying this little cycle-heat and all- and a lot of it has to do with having a simple yet purposeful mindset. Each week has had a different purpose or "theme" and I thought I'd share a few of those today with you guys-hope y'all enjoy and find relatively useful (and if you don't, that's ok too!)! 

What's cool about the Believe journal is that it breaks down each week and provides space to enter the focus of the week, a question for reflection, and a weekly recap or rundown section. As a sport psychology consultant, I find all of these items important for objectively looking at training or performance. 

Fun 

Starting with last week, my weekly focus was simple: enjoy it. Actually, this showed up more than once this summer. I don' think it's coincidental that this week was probably one of the most solid and diverse of the week. I did a little bit of faster work, hills with a new training bud, and made it a point to just relax. The result-a bit more confidence and excitement of for the week ahead. 

Fearless 

The first or second week when I laced up after my injury my focus was to not be afraid. I have had enough experience with coming back that my end-of-the-week notes talked about how much calmer I was this time around versus other times in dealing with the unknowns. If I'm calm, my energy isn't zapped halfway through from either overthinking or excess tension.  Perhaps the most empowering place an athlete can find themselves is being comfortable in the place of 'not knowing'. 

Forgiveness & The Present 

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this little look back on the summer so far was that my focus has been deliberately and only on the present. I told myself that I would not hold myself hostage with how fit I was in the Spring and just look at the improvements I've made since June. I tell people this all the time, and I think I've been able to finally grasp this concept.This also ties into the 'fun' category because if you're running in the present, it allows you to fully enjoy what you're doing. 

Some of the other weeks my focus was simply "have a positive to take from running in crap conditions", or "embrace discomfort" when I had a fartlek or hill day. 

So anyway, the purpose of this post was not to brag about my mental game-because believe me, I still have many improvements to make there-but to provide a cross-section of how training your mind a little bit can make an impact on your training. If you don't do so already, try designating a purpose for your training weeks aside from times and outcomes, and you just may surprise yourself. The magic really is within us:) 

Keep it #processfocused and let's have a purposeful week! 




Wednesday, June 8, 2016

If Deadpool was an Athlete (A Fun Twist on Sport Psych)

The other night my neighbor and I watched the movie ‘Deadpool’. I’ll have to admit-as much as I like Ryan Reynolds and all-this was a bit rough to watch; lots of blood and even more vulgarity (that and comics have never really been my thing), but it was oddly impossible to look away from once the story got going and at times it was freakin’ hilarious. For those who haven’t seen it (spoiler warning*), the protagonist Wade Wilson becomes ‘Deadpool’ by being subjected to intensely stressful situations over and over again until he finally mutated and gained his powers. You’re probably starting to wonder “now what does this have to do with endurance sports?”….read on and you’ll see.

A little background first: So I’ve been struggling with this lower leg thing for a bit and have been running in the pool almost every day (wishing I had Deadpool’s healing powers). Running around in small little circles with bad music playing in the background gives me a lot of time to think. The other day I was deep in a Pfitzinger’s Pool run workout and I began thinking how the aforementioned film related to the psychology of endurance. I told you I have had a lot of time to think!

So to give more of the movie away, Wade Wilson undergoes underground testing and basically torture with the goal of gaining super powers. Of course, like any Marvel Hollywood creation, it’s never that simple, but as athletes, there’s some fun analogies we can take from America’s favorite anti-hero, because, let’s face it: we all want to become stronger and more powerful. Luckily, there’s no evil intentions behind our transformations and we’re in charge of how much we want to “mutate”: NOTE play nice and keep it nonviolent and non extreme…it’s Hollywood after all! Okay, now that I’ve given my little disclaimer, let’s get to the topic at hand-


Like…..

-In order for mutations to take place, chatty Wade gets put in a number of very stressful situations-all of which he cracks jokes and pokes fun at the situation. In the end with another fight scene that grossed me out, he comes out on the other side really strong. We don’t get mentally tougher without being subjected to (controlled) stressors.

-Speaking of cracking jokes and laughing through situations, perhaps that’s helpful when we’re wanting to quit to make light of even the most trying of situations. Take the recent Ironman Texas race for example- these athletes were subjected to heat, humidity, rain, wind, thunder, and hail. Many I saw on the course while getting the beat down from the storm were smiling and laughing at the absurdity of it all. You make it through that, you bet you’re a tougher athlete for it! Staying positive is always a good idea when in a stressful situation.

-Perseverance. So Deadpool’s intentions were deviant to say the least, the dude never quit until he got what he wanted~you know, revenge and his girlfriend back. As athletes, we can become our super-selves by using adversity to our advantage and not giving up. Forces outside of us will try to impede our progress but just keep going. Just don’t resort to violence in getting what you want ;).

-Healing an injury. It’s a bummer and a challenge, but like a superhero, you can use the time off to make some mutations of your own. Get really freaking strong, build an unshakable core, fine tune you form, etc. I’m trying to do this right now and am experiencing little apprehension upon returning to terra firma.


So there you have it, using comic book characters as examples for athletes! Bottom line is this: we can’t turn away from challenges and stressors if we expect to become the best version of ourselves, so why not try and use situations to be ‘super’?! Go be your own hero:) 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Mental Strength: What it looks like and how to get it!

The following post was originally featured on the Team Green Running blog, a local elite and developmental track program I am proudly partnered with and wanted to share it with you as well. Hope you like it and have a takeaway or two! 

If you are unshakable at the starting line and never struggle with doubts, negative thoughts, or feeling like you underperformed, then you may skip right over this post…. BUT if you fall within the majority of athletes out there-and chances are this is the case at least some of the time, I encourage you to read on.
So you want to increase your mental game? Below I’ll list some characteristics of mentally strong runners-many of these are things I’ve seen in some amazing runners I’ve encountered in my work as a consultant and as a runner myself. Check it out:

* Mentally strong athletes are able to consistently pull positives out of any workout or race experience. Say you didn’t run your goal time for a given race…you can still pull some positives about your performance or learning experiences-which leads me to my next point…

* These athletes are constantly learning. Learning about the sport, learning about strategy, learning about themselves. These athletes are also excited about the process of learning more and improving.

* Mentally strong athletes have developed that “extra gear” when they really need it. I see this extra gear as being the ability to persist through the discomfort of running for just a bit longer or the ability to get just ‘a little’ more out of themselves than what is expected. Be advised, this takes some time and guts, but is very worth developing in yourself.

* Mentally strong runners enjoy challenging themselves and don’t feel threatened by difficult tasks.

* Mentally strong athletes are self-referenced. Comparison to others? Nah! Not these individuals. See the top two bullet points for pointers on how to develop a more self-referenced perspective. If you take a more self-referenced perspective, chances are your enjoyment of the sport will increase as well.
Think you have what it takes to get stronger?

Also, best of luck to Team Green Elite as they prep for the upcoming Olympic Trials! #rethinkingperformance