Work on Your Mental Plan Now, Not Just on Race Day

Most of us are really good at doing all the physical preparation we need to get to a start line. I’ve seen more elite athletes over many different sports show up to the big dance with the same physical preparation. When it comes down to really nailing new goals you often hear people say, “It’s in your head. If that athlete could just get their head on right they’d reach their goals.”

How many times has a fellow peer or coach muttered this about an athlete?

Just like our physical prep for competition, we only have on race day what we’ve practiced in training. You’re never going to magically be 10% faster, stronger, smarter, more confident, more composed, more focused on race day if you haven’t done the prep work in the months preceeding. I think it’s hard for many people to except that whatever they are on race day, they are every other day in training.

Most of us have our physical plans– our training plans. What is your mental plan for getting yourself to the next level of racing?

  1. Understand how you perform well. What state of mind and emotion are you in when you think you perform best?
  2. Keep a log. During all training sessions — hard ones, long ones, easy ones — how do you feel? Are you happy? Angry? Pumped? Calm? Focused inward? Focused externally?
  3. Rate your performances as you chart your feelings over many sessions. You’ll start to see a pattern over time on how you need to feel to perform your best. For example, I’ve learned over time I get distracted easily. I know I need to be calm, focused inward and emotionally in control. If I’m too happy I get distracted, if I’m too angry I lose control of my effort. I cannot be too “amped” — just calmly focused inward.
  4. Once you’ve established the mental state for when you perform best, you can develop habits and patterns to put you in this state prior to important sessions and competition. You may also learn to recognize when you are not in your prime head space to compete well and have a set of tools to re-focus yourself into that mind set before competition begins.

To be a great athlete you need the entire package. Physically, mentally, nutritionally, socially — it all combines together to bring out great performances over and over again.

Look at the big picture…

Mind, Planning, RacingMarilyn Chychota