So, by this point in the season (in the midwest, at least), we've spent hours planning out our training schedules. There are base periods, builds, peaks and valleys. We've got hours blocked for bricks -- runs with swims, and bikes with runs. Our muscles are strengthened, and stretched, and built and broken down with training over the course of the season. So at this point, we're planning for that, and starting the "training" in earnest.
We've done our research over the long, dark, dreary winter. We've read about nutrition being the "fourth discipline" and have added protein, or more carbs, or more natural foods. We've decreased drag, increased efficiency, added a powermeter to track wattage, and have ditched the running shoes to have lighter feet and a shorter stride. We've got heart rate monitors and footpods, pace calculators and spedometers -- holiday gifts, or gifts to ourselves. Something to look at during icy runs to remind us that yes -- summer will come back and there is a purpose to the training.
But all too often there's something missing from our arsenal. Something essential to any racer's success that's far more important than most would admit, and often overlooked or dismissed.
It's strange to think of, but from what I can tell, most of us spend very little time training mentally for the races that we prepare our bodies so methodically for. I mean, how many of us log into Trainingpeaks to add in a "workout" for "Mental Visualization"? I don't think anyone discounts mental preparation, but it's just not given the same marquis treatment as tempo runs, or swim stroke training. And I think it should, because I think it matters just as much. Maybe more.
So, in a few blog posts, I'm going to advocate that we become better self-coaches (really, self-parents) and start prepping our mind as well as we prep our bodies, and talk about how we can make our minds as tough as our quads.
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