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Tuesday 20 August 2013

The Mindset of Pure Performance

Recently, I've been running anywhere from 15 to 30 miles per week.  I like to get out there 4-5 times per week and do either a long run (8-13 miles), a medium run (4.5 to 5 or so, faster), an active rest set (half mile fast plus one minute walk easy x6), or some fartlek (3-5 miles, half mile moderate, half mile fast).  Sometimes I do a circuit (a few exercises in the weight room, followed by a .62 mile (1/5 of a 5K, repeat 3-4 times).

What I do doesn't really matter, but I wanted to give a visual for what is happening.  I probably don't do enough circuit training and fartlek training, and my actual routine is about 75% straight running between 4 and 8 miles.  I have a Nike+ watch that calculates my current pace, average pace, total distance, etc.  Here's the watch, it's a great tool http://www.finishline.com/store/catalog/product.jsp?productId=prod710985&NIKE&mkwid=st49OTA1D&CMP=PPC-PLA-Accessories-++SportWatch+GPS+Running+Watch&cagpspn=pla&gclid=CN-P0NigjbkCFenm7AodK0MAMw

I've noticed a few interesting things.  The things I've noticed have helped me get a handle on my running training while simultaneously teaching me about my life. 

Like most runners, I get into a zone after 10-20 minutes, and my mind begins to wander into places that I don't normally venture into....I'm relaxed, and the things that are in the back of my mind come to the forefront. 

I've noticed the type of thought I'm thinking affects my pace directly.  Here are a few examples:

*When I think about my daughter, my wife and family, or my friends -- and the fun things we've been doing, I tend to have relaxed easy speed; conversely, if I'm thinking about a conflict I have had recently with someone in my life, my pace slips and as I notice my pace slip (thanks to my watch), I notice that my posture is sagging or my tempo has slowed.

*When I think about swimming practices or competitions my athletes have been having, in which they have performed well, I notice a relaxed stride and easy high tempo; while the opposite is also true -- poorly executed practices or races will slow me down by affecting my body position and stride rate.

*When I am anticipating great performances in practices or competitions, I feel my easy speed.  This morning, I found myself thinking about our upcoming Team USA trip to Dubai and I was considering what a particular athlete, who I don't know well but have seen race many times, could possibly do....and it was so exciting that I dropped 30 seconds from one mile to another -- and that was 5 miles into the run!

*Even when I am dealing with residual fatigue and I don't have a lot of pop, thinking about the positive aspects of accomplishing an increased workload will tend to give me an extra boost (and if I stop my thought at the simple self-statement: 'I am tired' -- then I run lazy and tired).

I've noticed these things, with consistency and regularity, over the last six months.  I have no doubt that my mentality towards my training can affect my daily outcome, every time.  I can't help but think about how this same mentality can positively affect my daily life -- and not just my run.  Running has taught me what I have always known, but have tended to forget from time to time.

Many people believe that things happen in life, and how we react to those things will determine our success and our happiness.  I don't believe this to be the case at all.

I believe that we create our life: how we feel, how we act, how we deal with tough circumstances -- it's all our creation.  We affect our outcomes, every minute of every day.  Our thoughts affect the actual outcome -- in our daily life just as it is when we exercise and compete.

Additionally, our thoughts create chemical reactions in our brain that allow us to feel good throughout the day.  

This outlook and this ability to "affect life" and not "be affected by life" does not mean that people who aspire to this lifestyle live in a land of make-believe where everyone is happy all of the time, and no one gets anxious and stressed out.

You have to think about it like playing offense vs. playing defense. Both offensive players and defensive players are playing the same game, but they are on different sides of the ball; and it's only the offensive player that can score points and actually win the game.  Looking at your life from one side of the ball is quite a bit differnt from looking at it from the other side.

I believe that it is possible to take our 24 hours of the day and, through controlling our thoughts, begin to spend more time in a positive, confident state of mind and less time in a negative, anxious state of mind.  Once we start to tip the scale toward the positive, it builds....and that is when things get fun! 

So athletes, get yourself into a competitive situation -- whether it be pratice or competition, and find something that fires you up.  Get into that zone, and stay there.  If a negative or non-motivational issue comes up, toss it to the side.  Eliminate it. Bye bye. Stay on task.  Smile.  Expect great things.  Be confident by remembering your best performances.  Be optimistic that your best is yet to come.  And let these thoughts flow through you.  Greatness will appear!!


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