Mind Games in Fitness
Yesterdays workout was, in my opinion, a top 10 workout. I want to break down the mental aspects of the workout and give some tips for next time we do it.
^ Owner and Head Coach Rob Olson learning to utilize the power of positivity during some challenging tasks
“Power Clean Pit Stop”
100 Power Cleans for time. PLUS, every 2 minutes, starting at 0:00, run 2 laps.
Rx: 135/95, 2 laps (320m)
L2: 95/65, 2 lightpost and back (200m)
L1: 65/35, 1 lightpost and back (100m)
The average time to complete the wod was right around 20 minutes. If you scaled the run shorter, or the power cleans lighter, you may have finished around 15 minutes. If you scaled the run longer, or the power cleans heavier, you may have finished around 25 minutes or longer.
The reason I wanted to write this post is because this workout was more mentally daunting that most. You are rewarded from running fast with the ability to do more work. That is, the faster you run, the more time you have to complete the power cleans. And not just some power cleans, but 100 power cleans. High volume to say the least. But chances are, as the workout goes on, you get slower on the run, so the time to complete the cleans is reduced. Now a bit of panic sets in. Your legs are getting heavier, the run is getting harder, and the power cleans seem to be going nowhere. You are only able to complete 5 power cleans in the time allotted when you were doing 10+ at the start. What do you do?
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Learn to relax while working hard. Sounds crazy, I know, but when you find that ability within yourself, your true athletic potential is unlocked. Its amazing how the body reacts to a stimulus. The body wants you to slow down or stop. The body wants you to breath heavy. But the body does what the mind says. You CAN keep running, and you CAN control your breathing. Any endurance athlete can tell you this. It is all mind over matter. There were many instances yesterday when I was doing the workout and I found myself slowing down, breathing too fast, and almost thinking “this is not possible”. But, I told myself to relax, take a deep breath, and just keep running. Just keep running. I’m a big believer in positive self-talk. As I’m going through this workout, I have a few phrases I repeat to myself, one of them being “just keep running”. You know the movie Finding Nemo, where Dory says “just keep swimming – just keep swimming” … well … I adopted that phrase from the movie. Its simple, easily repeatable, and keeps you focused. The other phrase I like to tell myself is “I got this”. Its amazing how such a simple statement can be so profound in its effect. I was 23 minutes into the workout, slowing down on the run, and only getting 5 power cleans in per round and still having 30+ reps to go. Its easy to feel like the workout is not possible and to quit. But that simple little phrase – I got this – helped me push my legs a little faster. I was only doing 5 or 6 power cleans per round, but I knew I could sustain that. Deep breath – stay relaxed – head up - shoulders down and back – hips forward – squeeze the butt - fast feet – I got this. Yes, I literally say all those things to myself as I run, and you should too.
People often laugh when I say a hard workout looks “casual”. They think I’m joking, and to some extent I am. I’m trying to lighten the mental burden on the athlete. What I’m also doing for myself though is preparing my mind for a hard task – to stay relaxed while working hard. I’m setting myself up for success beforehand. If you think a workout is going to difficult, guess what, it will be. I like to tell myself the workout is casual no matter how difficult it may be. Then I work hard, stay relaxed, and crush everything. While working out seems physical, it is really all mental. The body does what the mind commands.
Give these tips a try next time you workout. It takes practice and repetition before it becomes habit. Once that habit is established though, the gains are unleashed, both in the gym as well as in your personal and professional lives.
About the author:
Growing up in Simsbury, I started playing ice hockey soon after I started walking. I continued to play up through high school, as well as playing lacrosse and running cross country at Avon Old Farms. In addition, I also played football, raced mountain bikes, skied (then) and snowboard (now). I also enjoy road biking if I have the free time. If it’s athletic, chances are I like it, and have done it. I was first introduced to CrossFit at BUD/s (Basic Underwater Demolition / SEAL training) in 2008. I continued to use and benefit from CrossFit training during my time as a US Navy SEAL, with tours to Afghanistan, Africa, and Europe. I am very passionate about CrossFit, and whole heartedly believe everybody can benefit from it. CrossFit will not only get you in better shape, but the effects will translate into your personal and professional life as well, such as learning perseverance, commitment, teamwork, integrity, and community. The pursuit of health and fitness is a lifelong journey, and I have found CrossFit to be the most efficient and streamlined training method. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
My goal is to continually increase my general physical conditioning. I like to be strong while still having an endurance capacity.
Newport Marathon 2015 (3:53)
Ironman 70.3 Syracuse 2017 (6:40)
Ironman 140.6 Lake Placid 2017 (14:14)
Bench Press 315lb