Thoughts are Training TOO!
I posted a friendly reminder to my ultra-distance paddling group the other day to breathe through their noses in aerobic paddles. It's something I want them to practice. With this reminder, I asked the question, what is your mind saying when you paddle? I was curious because it is something I recently started working on after an article I read explained how the stories we tell ourselves (read: our thoughts) impact our training and performances.
I do a decent amount of "chunking" where my workouts are compartmentalized into intervals to optimize the metabolic and physiological adaptations. The problem with always chunking is that our inner monologue, the story, says that we can get through *this* interval, then we get a rest before the next one. When we get to race day there isn't a break, the story we use in training over and over isn't an option. We've trained the wrong story, and chances are the monologue enters a downward spiral from there. Our body and mind kinda freak out and are replaced with feelings of inadequacy, fear, and pain. This doesn't mean we need to add huge all-out efforts into our training (although a "for fun" race or a "warmup race" are always a good idea when used in moderation), but it does mean that we need to stay MINDFUL of our stories, and the minutiae when choosing words and thoughts.
My stories STILL NEED WORK! Even though I won the tech race at the Gorge Paddle Challenge, I had HORRIBLE thoughts in my head. I wouldn't have even noticed them if it wasn't for the video of me crossing the finish line... which I'm extremely embarrassed of. To see the video, and my self-analysis of my self-talk check out the blog: What I Learned from Winning the Gorge Tech Race. This was a painful exercise in self-reflection. But it goes to show you, once breathing and good technique become a habit that you don't need to think about as much, and your training is solid, you can take this extra space to think about your thoughts! What sort of things are you telling yourself about... yourself, your workout, the effort level, etc. Ensure these are positive thoughts of strength and capability. Start using this time to think about how you will be thinking during a race, and practice that. Just like breathing, technique, and physiological training your "thought-story" takes practice, and practice takes time, but it's worth it.
This excerpt originally appeared in my second summer newsletter of 2019.
It was an interesting time. I was finally starting to see some results from my YEARS of training :-)
You can view the entire newsletter RIGHT BELOW: It was because I dropped anything that wasn't essential to achieve my goals and focused. Unfortunately we don't always have time to do that. Life, jobs, kids, and other obligations come before paddling. In either case, focused or balancing a lot, one thing remains the same: keep your SELF TALK POSITIVE.
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