A couple months ago, my friend Jen lent me a book called “The new toughness training for sport.” Mental training is a relatively new concept to me and the reading has provided a large amount of insights and a couple major revelations. I subsequently got jelly on it from a sandwich and had to buy her a new copy, but it’s just given me more time with the book.
The first step in the book’s process is to evaluate yourself on a variety of mental aspects with respect to your sport. One of the things I consistently have an issue with is being patient; I hate sitting in and, before this year, was consistently the first person to be jumping to an attacker’s wheel. This meant that, despite my gains in strength and endurance, I was tiring my self out well in advance of the finish. This year, I made sure to do more active thinking during races about what moves to follow and which ones to let go.
In order to improve patience, the book recommends that you write out a full page on each aspect you find to be a weakness in your game (I found five). Since it will be difficult to implement five plans in a month with finals, nationals and starting a job, I figured I would start with one now and integrate the others (moodiness, emotional flexibility, acting skill and relaxation).
Over the next month, I am to become a more patient person. This will require a large amount of focus and positive reinforcement. There are many times when I come to a situation and get frustrated with how slowly something is moving. This applies frequently to racing when there is a lack of action. When I come to one of those situations, I will take these steps:
- Stop, take 5 deep breaths
- Think about something that I am grateful for
- Remind myself that some things cannot go any faster and even if they can, sometimes I will be unable to affect their rate.
- Reflect and see if there is something productive I could be doing in the mean time
When there is no situtation at hand that is making me impatient, I will begin to visualize past race situations that I have been involved in and those that I hope to see in the future. I am a frequent early race attacker and consistently waste energy bridging to moves that end up coming back anyway. However, I have only seen early race breaks work twice and I have only gotten a good result from a breakaway once. That breakaway was not until the last five minutes of the race. So, I will begin to create situations in my mind where people are attacking and I either don’t follow or allow someone else to cover the gap.