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  • Dr. Kaustubh Radkar

Developing your mental fitness!

Mental training and the role it plays in endurance sport

After two years I was able to get a PB for 1900 mtrs (2075) yards today, it’s been quite interesting 2018 with minimal swim training for one reason and another. Today I was quite determined to rock this, I must admit last few months with constant travel training hasn’t been the most consistent, but I wanted to give my system a check where it stood. As I started to swim, I knew this was going to be a good swim but knowing and making it happen are two different things as all athletes know. I then started to analyse (while swimming and post) why I was successful in getting my target today, here are a few reasons why today worked, one can easily apply these to not just swimming, cycling, running but any sport or rather any professional work as well.

1) Set a realistic target: 2000 in under 24 mins was my target, not 23 mins: Far too often athletes set unrealistic targets; they don’t see where their training data is currently before estimating target. This results in overshooting target and then can lead to depression, anger towards self or coach and of course burnout. There is a fine line in going for it constantly and then trusting your training and planning a good race/ time trial. There is an actual pace and then there is the “in my head pace,” if you follow the latter more often it will lead you down a dangerous slope of not being able to finish the workout or what most athletes call “blowing up.’

2) When the going gets tough, the tough get going: Was it easy today, nope! It never was, it’s never meant to be, but what separates the good from the bad is your attitude during the event or trial. When things got tight, sore, I started feeling fatigue; I knew my “why.” I knew what I wanted to say to myself in between the ears, to keep pushing. Far too often athletes forget that mental training happens during your practice, if you can nail it during your training it will come on race day too. There’s no magic switch on and off for mental fitness, you have to go through the process and come up with your own solutions. Today I had told myself mind over matter, and viola I was able to beat the first 1000 time by 2 secs. Today’s mantra was “Don’t stop till you hit the wall.” Find a mantra and use it during each session, especially the hard ones.

3) Do you rest and recover properly? One thing I am finding consistently via social media posts or even my athletes Training peaks updates is there are always a few athletes who attack each workout for a PB. If you work with a coach, they will plan certain workouts which are meant to be recovery, I am always amused by posts such as HR PB, Wattage PB and other lingo when it’s also listed as “aerobic” or “recovery” workout. If you fall prey to constantly trying to beat yourself, there is a lot of data that supports if you don’t rest and recover fully, your body will break down and you increase the risk of getting injured (some I have seen have become life- long), and also losing mental fitness this will result in burn out losing interest in sport. The most crucial part of each workout is your “warm-up.” and “cool-down,” guess what athletes skip the most is either of these two, whatever the reason this will result in lifelong issues for sure, and they will crop up the older you get. Yesterday post two sessions in Mumbai, a long drive back (3.5 hours), I took the evening off but stretched, foam rolled properly. This am I had a good warm up to get rid of any of the lag, and a proper cool down to make sure I am set for tomorrow, again “practice makes permanent.”

Make sure you set the right structure every single day and you will have along athletic career, Hope this small article will help you achieving your targets whether it’s for this week, month, year or sometime in the future. Happy Training to all!

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