Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Who are you calling mental?
Recently, I read a CNN article by Chrissie Wellington on some of the mental tricks and cues she recommends athletes develop for racing. If you read my blog, that probably means that you're an athlete. So you should read the article.
Go on, I'll wait
Now that you've read the article, and in case you're wondering, I usually have two songs going through my head while I race: The Killers - Human, and Foo Fighters - My Hero
(Incidentally, both of these songs have played over the loud speakers before the gun at Ironman Canada, and both years I raced to personal bests ... just sayin')
Wellington's article got me thinking: while I certainly haven't figured everything out, I have developed some effective mental skills, which I'll periodically start posting here on my blog.
To start, I'll talk about swimming. If you know me, you know that of the swim, bike, run, transition portions of a race, the swim is the aspect where I am least competitive. Slow gains, slow gains.
Anyway, I also find swimming very frustrating, especially (at times) swimming with other people. In an open water situation, I believe there are two types of swimmers: those who push, and those who are pushed. And while I might have a high strength-to-weight ratio, I still get pushed around.
Which is frustrating. Sometimes infuriating. Then my swim stroke gets infuriated. Then I slow down.
So I've talked with coaches and fellow athletes about it, and have developed some strategies that, for me, have worked. I figure that there are 3 actions you can take when you find yourself congested in the pool, lake, or ocean. Whenever my feet are hit, calf is slapped, or I get a shoulder to the face, I quickly make a decision between:
1. Extricate from the situation. Find clear water, swim on your own, and stay calm
2. Embrace the chaos, draw energy from the competition
3. Get frustrated and lash out
Unfortunately, my natural inclinations are to tend towards Number 3. But those people swimming around you don't mean to hit you, they just do. And it's a big lake, or ocean, or pool (maybe), so can't we just all get along?
So, try the other two in your next race or training set (tending towards Number 1 if you're a strong swimmer, and Number 2 if you're still developing like me)
And stay tuned for more mental tips as the season progresses