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Mental Strength: Training

Posted by: on April, 21 2012

By Coach Tony:  Training your brain to go the distance is as important as training your body. Your body is made to protect itself and your mind it its first layer of protection. The Human Operating System (HOS) will get you out of trouble by sending signals of pain. Understanding the difference between discomfort pain (non injury threatening) and injury pain will help you take control of when to push and when to relax. Using the HOS to control demeanor during training and racing is essential when overcoming the low points that make us want to give up.

For the purpose of mental strength as it relates to training and racing, lets define the Human Operating System as having 4 elements; Thought, Energy, Awareness, Mood (think TEAM).

Though promotes behavior. Behavior promotes results. Thinking positive will generate positive behavior creating positive results. Positive thought will change your behavior creating positive results moving you up on your mood elevator. What is a mood elevator? Read on.

Energy is easy to understand. The better you manage personal energy, the better your performance will be. Imagine you carry your energy in a bucket. As athletes, we use energy in many different ways. The harder we train or race, the quicker we consume our bucket of energy. The better we pace ourselves, the more efficient we use bucket of energy. When we continue to exercise without energy replenishment, our bucket of energy runs out. Managing your mental state of mind will help you manage your energy bucket. How can I control my state of mind? Awareness.

Where are you; mentally? Are you thinking about the flat tire you had and the time you lost? Why? That’s in the past and there’s nothing you can do about it. Are worried about the run that’s coming up? Why? You are not there yet. Be aware of where your mind is. “Be Here Now.” Focus on the Here and the Now. Are you hungry, are you thirsty, are you peddling the right cadence, are you running to fast, too slow. Keep your mind where you body is, not ahead or behind. Where is your mind?

Mood (State of Mind)
Our mood determines our effectiveness. The better the mood the more effective we utilize energy. The lower the mood, the less effective we are at managing energy. Imagine various moods ranging from very excited to depressed or discouraged stacked on top of one another, like floors of a building. Excited, positive, energetic emotions are the top floors while discouraged, disappointed, etc… are at the bottom. Curious, patient, etc are the middle floors. What floor are you on?

The higher the Mood, the more efficient you are at burning energy. But be careful, the very top floors may burn too much energy too fast. The very top floors are great for short sprint races. Middle to top floors are best for longer distances.

Use this “Mood Elevator” to (1) recognize where you are and (2) where you want to be. Typically we do not choose to be towards the bottom floor. Circumstances find us on the lower floors. When you find yourself on a lower floor, make the mental adjustment to next floor. Does this sound corny? Sure it does. Try this when the only tool left is your mind.

Train hard, train smart, and train safe because it better to train than to recover.

Tony Troccoli has been a certified USA Triathlon and USA cycling since 2001. Tony has competed in nearly 20 Ironman events including Kona and coaches locally in the Southern California area and on-line nationwide. Thousands of athletes have had successful training and racing experiences using Tony’s pre-built, easy-to-follow training programs. Tony is also a F.I.S.T certified bike fitter and soon to be Certified Total Immersion instructor. Contact Tony at tony@coach-tony.com.