Every athlete faces challenging workouts. There are inevitable good days, bad days, OK days and ‘I want that one back’ days. While things are bound to get tough when you’re working to get stronger or faster, solid mental preparation can go a long way to making those moments better. What, exactly, does that mean?
Mind over matter is real. If you can control your thoughts, you can control your physiology. Sky rocketing heart rate? Force a few deep breaths and down it comes. Cold? Think warm thoughts and picture sunning on the beach. Completing a hard workout is tough but here are three ways mental preparation can take a challenge and make it a little bit easier.
Expect the worst. Look cold or rainy for that run? How about the huge number of reps in today’s WOD? If you can steel your nerves and plan to be riding the pain train for a while, odds are when you actually get to work it won’t be as bad as you expected. By planning to be pushed to your limit you’ll be grateful for each moment that’s not at max effort.
Visualize. Just like you’re imagining all of the misery you’re going to encounter, foresee success. Picture writing that new PR in your workout journal or posting it on the white board. Imagine each step of the session from beginning to end and the positive feelings you’ll have as you tick off the minutes. Use meditation or yoga to help you focus on your goal and see yourself accomplishing it.
Get comfortable. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Our bodies and minds love the status quo but that gets us officially nowhere. We only improve when we push beyond our comfort zones and build new ones. Those seconds or minutes of discomfort we feel, the burning in our shoulders and the exhaustion in our legs, are the times we’re stressing our bodies enough to create a positive response. Find a motivating mantra that works for you and repeat it when the going gets tough. You’ll be so busy staying positive you’ll never notice the pain and suffering you’re actually enduring.
Use these tips the next time your workout or run looks extra challenging. Prepare your mind to succeed and you will.