Saturday, February 9, 2013

Jedi Mind Games

"No! Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try." --YODA, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

I've said before that one of the most important aspects of training and racing is the mind. Well, this week, I've been eyeballs deep in some serious mind training. For months I've been begging my husband/trainer to write out my workouts-- I like to go by a weekly plan, knowing exactly what I'll be doing which days of the week. Well, on Monday he handed me a sheet of paper with the week's work on it. Gulp.

Exactly what I wanted, right? I should be happy, right? Except for a giant unexpected problem: I can no longer fool myself into thinking that today's workout is the hardest one of the week and the rest are light. No. Now I have the full scope of pain placed before me. I arrive at the gym knowing the full extent of the plan. Before I showed up and training was one day at a time, one little morsel at a time, like this: "Warm up with some double unders and snatches." Then later, "Your workout's on the board." And now the entire week is on one sheet of paper, and I see the scope of work I'm doing all at once. And it feels like too much. But really it's no more than I've been doing, it's just a trick of the mind that I have to overcome.

Then Thursday morning, the instructions were: 4 miles at competitive 5k race pace. Huh?! Clearly, no one has ever told Craig Lawson that there's a reason it's called a "5k pace." (Because it's for 3.1 miles, not for FOUR!) At least I was distracted during the run-- my thoughts flew between trying to figure out how in the world he thinks it's feasible for me to run my 5k pace for longer than a 5k; planning my, uhm, educational speech to him when I returned; and trying as hard as I could to hit my 5k pace (I'm still a pleaser).

Thursday afternoon's workout: 
A heavy day. I couldn't even look at the numbers. Or the weight on the bar. So, I didn't-- one of the perks of having a trainer. For this workout, he loaded the weight on the bar for each lift. I didn't allow myself to look at the bar as I approached the bench. Instead, for the bench I told myself, "This one will be easier-- I'm doing less than last time." Ok, I lied-- I was doing fewer reps, more weight. But the lie worked. I successfully hit my max. I told myself the same for the deadlifts-- I was nearly crushed by looking at the plates on the first lift. But for those lifts, I watched the number of plates decrease, and it felt easier. 

Lesson learned: the mind may be mightier than the body. Much of training and eating clean is a mind game. Learn what works for you, but be ready to adapt for each situation. 
(I couldn't resist)

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