This post continues down the path of the mental skills lessons I learned during my training and athletic endeavors in the month of September. Although my first lesson revolved around the importance of having a plan, my second lesson was that sometimes things don’t go according to plan. I experienced this in training and during both weekends of events.
During the months of training leading up to my events, there were a few weeks when I didn’t hit the hours I was hoping to. I came pretty darn close, but there were times when life added a little more to my plate and I ended up on a two hour ride instead of a three hour ride. Or I would have a day when my back (previous back injury) wasn’t doing so hot and I knew that the best thing I could do to be healthy on race day was to take an easy day or take a day off. At times I found myself obsessing and worrying about the missed hours of training.
- How will this impact my training for next week?
- Am I going to be ready for my race?
I had an easier time when the missed training was due to taking care of my back. My number one goal for the event was to get there and get through feeling strong. In order to accomplish this goal I knew that taking care of my back had to be #1. If I was injured, I wasn’t going to make it to the start line let alone finish strong. But when I missed training because of an increased stress load or lack of time, that’s when I would obsess about it and project into the future my fears and worries of what that would mean.
What I eventually came to realize is that even when you don’t follow your training plan 100%, you can still get a good result. Of course you want to hit your hours and get in the training that you need in order to be competitive and accomplish your personal goals, but it’s not going to help your performance if you obsess over a week of training that didn’t happen exactly how it was written. Don’t focus on the training you didn’t do. Let it go. Worrying about it doesn’t change the fact that it didn’t happen, it just keeps you stuck in the past and stuck in a negative emotional state. When you worry about the training that was missed, it can adversely affect your confidence and keep your focus away from where it needs to be in order to make good decisions about how to adjust your plan.
It’s easy to have a great performance on a day when everything goes according to plan – but the mark of a mentally tough athlete is shown in how you handle things when it doesn’t. More often than not, you will have races and competitions that have a few bumps in the road. Your ability to keep your composure and quickly adjust to the new situation is what makes you mentally tough. Your ability to learn from the situation (more on that in another lesson!) and carry that lesson forward into your next event, is what makes you a smart competitor and helps you continue to improve and build on your performance.