Hey there sports fans! It has been a minute since the last time of writing, but man has it gone by in a flash! Last time I told you my plans were to take advantage of all the oxygen at sea level and put in a block to push the power and workload in the muscles. Needless to say, the sea level block was great despite only having about 3 sunny-ish days in 2 months. I’ve also started my fall semester of school and have been incredibly busy with all things school related adding to everything else already on my plate. I am currently in Park City, Utah for a 2 week training camp with my team, APU. I went home for a week before the camp, did some archery elk hunting, didn’t get anything, but it was such a nice time to completely unplug and recharge. After the Park City camp concludes, I’ll make the drive back home where I’ll spend a few more days with my family before heading back to AK for the final training phase prior to our first races, early December. All in all, it’s been fantastic to get back to some incredible sunshine, and soak it all in before we go back to AK. Hopefully we go straight onto snow!
We are coming to the end of the “general training phase” where volumes are big, the overall training load is high, and starting to sharpen up going into the race season. That said, the training is never done, and with inclement weather looming, mental energy can take a hit. Here are some ways to make sure you’re mentally firing on all “8-cylinders”, so that you can stay more consistent and get the most out of yourself on a daily basis.
Part 1: Tactics to maximize mental energy.
When it comes to training, there are two primary aspects that play key roles in whether or not your training is successful. The first, of course, is the physical side of training, making the body stronger. The second, and equally important, is the mental side. Previously, I’ve talked about how a smart way to think about training and how much to train is by taking a birds eye view on the season as a whole and pacing yourself through the entire year, accordingly. It is common knowledge that your body can only do so much physical work before your batteries are drained. Likewise, there is a separate, yet semi connected battery that supplies your mental energy. There is a big stigma and fear of “overtraining” in athletes, but to be frank, most people don’t realize how much they can actually do before they become “overtrained” because they simply break down mentally, and burnout rather than overtrain. So here are some tips and tricks to keep your mental battery running optimally so that you can get the most out of yourself without the mental side of things holding you back. Like with injury prevention, many of these tactics can be used as a “pre-hab” equivalent. They will greatly help when energy is low, and keep consistency at times when you might otherwise waiver.
1. Put yourself in an environment that you enjoy: Personally I find that there is a difference between the amount of mental energy I use when I’m at home in CO vs when I’m up in AK. There are probably a lot of reasons for it, but I think it just boils down to how much I love my home and all that it entails, and just being in that environment restores my heart and soul. So when I’m in AK, I try to replicate as many positive aspects of my home and eliminate any possible “energy drainers”.
2. Have a routine: In general, the body and mind prefer a routine. Ever heard of the term “creatures of habit?” Most of us are. I know that I am. When we have a routine throughout a given day, we end up using less mental energy thinking/deciding about various things and therefore keep our battery fresher.
3. Capitalize on Team Training: In my experience, when you train with a team, the mental load of a given session seems to be shared amongst the group rather than rest solely on the individual. A positive team energy can really boost one’s battery which makes it much easier to click off sessions while conserving the mental battery.
4. Plan “other” sessions with friends: At APU we have a good mix of team training sessions as well as non-team sessions. Tip #3 plays a role for all of the scheduled team training sessions, but for some non-team sessions, it can be beneficial to plan these sessions with others. This strategy helps prevent procrastination and often provides accountability for that afternoon session when mental energy is lacking. On the flip side of that, sometimes going for a solo training session can be just what the doctor ordered.
5. Schedule “commuting” workouts for when you have the most energy: For me, I know that if I’m tired, I’m much less likely to want to commute for training in the afternoon. So I plan my commuting sessions in the morning when I feel more productive. Then my less energetic sessions can just take off closer to home in the afternoon.
6. Schedule more important workouts during the time of day when you’re most productive: Piggy backing off of #5, if you have 2 sessions in a day, schedule your more important sessions during the time when you are the most energetic. Doing this will enable you to get the most bang for your buck for these crucial workouts. This also allows the 2nd daily session to go as planned with less mental energy needed to complete.
Anyways, it’s been snowing in Alaska, so hopefully the skiing will be prime by the time I get back up there and I’ll be able to jump straight back onto snow!
Until next time, train smart and think snow!