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Are you training for the 30th Annual TC 10K?
It all starts now and you have 14 weeks to build positive habits and create success! Success is not a random occurrence. Success is something you create for yourself through careful self-awareness, planning preparation and execution. Success is also a self-defined emotional environment that each of us has to find for ourselves. While we can emulate the success of others, feel motivated by it, and learn from it, each one of us has to create our own platforms to jump from. Personal success is that place where attitude and passion intersect.
Success in a sport goal requires some effort and specific training. While a lot of people think of training as a series of workouts for fitness, it is helpful to have the mindset that training in itself is a practice, and one that requires certain habits. You have the right, and the power to develop habits that are positive and that work for you, right from the get go. As you gain experience, you will learn what works and what doesn’t and you will be able to fine tune your training program so that you own it. If this all seems like a lot of work, it is. But it's good work, and will come with satisfaction.
In this blog we will discuss a positive and logical approach to training and how to create rituals that work for you and take you towards your goal in a productive and joyful manner. The TC10k is a goal race and a future event that keeps you motivated towards working hard, your short term weekly goals keep you working in a timely manner towards that big goal, and finally, your training sessions are really the bricks and mortar, the path your journey takes. It makes sense to create a strong, solid foundation: this is your life and health we are dealing with!
· If you have a training plan, look at it! Not just what’s coming up today, but what is planned for the week. It makes sense to look ahead at your schedules, both to plan out your week and to start wrapping your mind around the sessions that are coming up.
· Plan out when and where you are going to complete this session. Don’t leave it up to chance. Know exactly when your session is scheduled and make sure that time is sacred. Know where you are going to be doing the session so you aren’t making that decision right before the session. Be adaptable too; if something changes, move onto Plan B and become a problem solver. Find another time calmly.
· Choose environments that suit the session to ensure success. A long section of beautiful trail is a far better choice for a long run, than through the city. But if you have to train at night, a well lit city street might be your best bet.
· The people you train with are also your environment. Choose training partners that lift your spirits and motivate you, people that are fun to train with and who bring out the best in you.
· Have your gear ready to go and in good shape. Keep your running apparel and gear all in one easy to find place.
· Prepare for how long the session will take. This allows you to plan time for training into your day, including warm up and cool down, around the other tasks you have in your life.
Executing the Session
Training can mean heading out of the door for a required amount of time (or until you fatigue or get bored) or training can be a practice. Training for a purpose and to achieve mindfulness is not more difficult, but can be more effective. Breaking a session into parts: the warm up, the main set and the cool down, will allow your body to be more prepared to exercise, and you will be able to maximize what you are able to do on that session. Paying attention to workouts and executing them correctly has tremendous pay back: you become a stronger athlete, you learn to stretch your own comfort levels and you are less likely to get injured.
Before completing a session it is important to warm up your body well. Warming up is an important step in preparing your body to perform. You need your muscles to be warm and loose and your mind to be focused on giving an effort. A well warmed body is ready for the physiological stress of the workout, and a strong mental focus provides the concentration necessary to perform well. A good warm-up therefore is the positive prelude to the great show to come.
A warm-up is nothing more than a period of light, specific physical activity that prepares the body for the activity. It should last roughly 5 to 15 minutes. Give yourself time to warm up and cool down, as rushing through warm ups may leave you feeling stressed and not ready, and failure to warm up or cool down well over the long term can leave you at risk of injury. Mentally, use your warm up to get excited, but not so nervous or anxious that tension builds in the body. If you feel too nervous, take some deep breaths, relax, and remind yourself of why you are there (I’m sure it’s not because you want to be anxious).
· Stay warm during warm up. If it’s cool outside, leave outer layers on to the extent that you actually feel warm while warming up.
· Jog, walk, or do light activity really easy for warm up, focussing on breathing, being relaxed and having a great posture
· After a warm up jog, you can try some run drills. They will further prepare your muscles for any fast running or walking that is to come.
· Some gentle stretches can follow: glutes, hamstrings, calves and quads.
· For longer easy days your warm up can be built right into your practice - just head out the door at a walk, or an easy pace until your feel your natural gait and stride falling into place.
· Cooling down is basically the reverse of the warm up, a 15 minute very easy pace to allow the muscles to relax and flush some of the waste product accumulated during a session of faster effort. For long steady effort, you can make the last 10 minutes of your session at a slower pace and very relaxed.
Mindfulness, Self-Talk and Visualization
When you are training, pay attention to what you are doing. This is a habit that will make you a stronger athlete and has the added benefit of making you more calm. When you train, practice to pay attention to what your body is doing, how you are breathing, the rhythm of your feet, the swing of your arms and how well you are moving. This focus will help buffer you from the world of multitasking we are all a part of now and creates a calming effect that refreshes. Be aware of your thoughts and notice them, and try to go of the ones that aren’t necessary. You don’t have worry about dinner, or the work presentation right now.
Be mindful of what you are doing in the moment.
A huge part of doing well in anything revolves around planning for success and seeing yourself being successful at that endeavour. Plan for success constantly, by taking care of details that affect execution and by using strong visualization to ‘see’ yourself working at your best and being great.
In every session you should be mindful and alert to what is happening in your brain and in your emotional state. Being tuned into feelings that are either calm or confident, or their opposite, stress and anxiety will have great benefit to your overall program. Each time you train you are giving yourself a chance to accomplish something and to be great...and you are ingraining key habits and mindsets that you want to replicate during the more intense race environment. You can choose to have an inner 'mean' coach, or an inner 'helpful' coach. Delete the mean coach: he or she is not helpful and doesn't care about your success. If you are having trouble with this, think about how you would talk to a child you love. So now talk to yourself the same way.
Practice being relaxed for sessions, even when you are tired or not having an ‘on’ day. Develop ways that you can stay relaxed so as to perform as best as you can. This can be rehearsed body awareness cues such as ‘relaxed shoulders and back’ or ways to calm your mind and re focus on the task at hand. Becoming aware of negative self-talk and training yourself to delete self-defeating inner voices is one of the best things you can do early in a training program. As the training increases, and the peak race looms, trying to change bad habits becomes harder. Sometimes it helps to write down a new mental routine for yourself and affirm this behaviour until the new behaviours becomes automatic.
Distractions: one of the most common things that causes people to underperform is to let oneself get distracted by irrelevant thoughts about events. Distractions are usually somewhat chaotic conditions that arise unexpectedly and interfere with our perception of how things should be. When you are in the flow, distractions slide off your calm and confident exterior. When unpredictable events happen the best way to deal with distractions is to re-focus on the internal process of what you are doing and decide to get on with whatever really counts.
A good portion of my training energy is devoted to cultivating the kind of mindset that makes me feel good. How do I cultivate this feeling, this confidence? I use my time well. When I am training, I make a commitment to myself to put my best effort into each day, no matter how tired I am, or what has happened in my personal life. I contemplate how I feel when things are going well and the positive thoughts and attitude I have about myself, the world and my training. I work on eliminating negative self-talk, self- defeating behaviour and actions that sabotage success.
I like the discipline of training my body and my mind, of practicing how I am going to be confident and joyful on race day. The more I practice being confident in training sessions, the more easily that mind-ease surfaces on race day. I like getting to races ready to perform. I expect to be nervous before major competitions as this means that deep down, I care about what I do, but with my well of calm at my centre, the nervousness never becomes debilitating. I work to be free of worry and anxiety, to be able to focus on the process of running well. This practice serves me well, as every training day becomes enjoyable and positive, and when I arrive at a big event where the stakes are higher, I have the comfort of knowing that all the strength and courage I need are right there in my soul.
Training to be Your Greatest Self
Training is a path in itself, not just a step towards racing. Training lets us take control of our lives, to do quality work on a daily basis, to create health and strength in our bodies and to build positive habits and routines that make us happy. Training also gets us prepared to execute our larger dream goals and gives us great life skills including resilience. Optimal training requires dedication, planning and a commitment to being our best as much as possible.
I hope the best for your next 14 weeks as you gear up to the 30th annual TC10K on April 28th! Whether you are involved in one of the RunSport Clinics, or preparing with a group of friends, or training on your own, you can check back here for weekly inspiration and tips that I hope can help you in your training!
Run For Joy!
RunSport Lead Coach
6 time Winner of the TC 10K