Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Catching up and The Four C's

Wow, its been over a week since my last post. I hope to catch up with you all soon. Its just been very busy, and I haven't had much to write about running wise. Last week I only ran twice. Gulp. I did do a quick 22K and 6K, but I am still adjusting to being back to work. Tonight I got home after 9 after a parent information night for our incoming grade nine students, so if this post lacks logic, its because I am in non-communicative mode. Perfect for blogging! :)

This week I will get my 4 runs in, although no major distance since I am tapering. The ever-flexible training plan:
Monday -6K - recovery
Tuesday - rest (ha!)
Wednesday - 6K tempo
Thursday - rest
Friday -12K tempo
Sunday -14-16K

Having a few races around the bend, I thought I could use a little mental training "tune up". Everyone who has run or trained for a marathon knows that marathons are as much mental as they are physical. I ran across this interesting article about maintaining/brushing up on your mental game.

This is the mental quality to focus on the task in hand. If the athlete lacks concentration then their athletic abilities will not be effectively or efficiently applied to the task. Research has identified the following types of attention focus:
Broad Narrow continuum - the athlete focuses on a large or small number of stimuli
Internal External continuum - the athlete focuses on internal stimuli (feelings) or external stimuli (ball)
The demand for concentration varies with the sport:
Sustained concentration - distance running, cycling, tennis, squash
Short bursts of concentration - cricket, golf, shooting, athletic field events
Intense concentration - sprinting events, bobsleigh, skiing
Common distractions are: anxiety, mistakes, fatigue, weather, public announcements, coach, manager, opponent, negative thoughts etc.
Strategies to improve concentration are very personal. One way to maintain focus is to set process goals for each session or competition. The athlete will have an overall goal for which the athlete will identify a number of process goals that help focus on specific aspects of the task. For each of these goals the athlete can use a trigger word (a word which instantly refocuses the athlete's concentration to the goal) e.g. sprinting technique requires the athlete to focus on being tall, relaxed, smooth and to drive with the elbows - trigger word could be "technique"
Athletes will develop a routine for competition that may include the night before, the morning, pre competition, competition and post competition routines. If these routines are appropriately structured then they can prove a useful aid to concentration.
Confidence results from the comparison an athlete makes between the goal and their ability. The athlete will have self-confidence if they believe they can achieve their goal. (Comes back to a quote of mine - "You only achieve what you believe").
When an athlete has self confidence they will tend to: persevere even when things are not going to plan, show enthusiasm, be positive in their approach and take their share of the responsibility in success and fail.
To improve their self confidence, an athlete can use
mental imagery to:
visualise previous good performance to remind them of the look and feel
imagine various scenarios and how they will cope with them

Identifying when an athlete feels a particular emotion and understanding the reason for the feelings is an important stage of helping an athlete gain emotional control. An athlete's ability to maintain control of their emotions in the face of adversity and remain positive is essential to successful performance. Two emotions that are often associated with poor performance are anxiety and anger.
Anxiety comes in two forms - Physical (butterflies, sweating, nausea, needing the toilet) and Mental (worry, negative thoughts, confusion, lack of concentration).
Relaxation is a technique that can be used to reduce anxiety.
When an athlete becomes angry, the cause of the anger often becomes the focus of attention. This then leads to a lack of concentration on the task, performance deteriorates and confidence in ability is lost which fuels the anger - a slippery slope to failure.
Sports performance depends on the athlete being fully committed to numerous goals over many years. In competition with these goals the athlete will have many aspects of daily life to manage. The many competing interests and commitments include work, studies, family/partner, friends, social life and other hobbies/sports
Within the athlete's sport, commitment can be undermined by:
a perceived lack of progress or improvement
not being sufficiently involved in developing the training program
not understanding the objectives of the training program
lack of enjoyment
anxiety about performance - competition
becoming bored
coach athlete not working as a team
lack of commitment by other athletes
Setting goals with the athlete will raise their feelings of value, give them joint ownership of the goals and therefore become more committed to achieving them. All goals should be
Many people (coach, medical support team, manager, friends, etc) can contribute to an athlete's levels of commitment with appropriate levels of support and positive feedback, especially during times of injury, illness and poor performance.

Some food for thought. I think the 4 C's will be my mantra through my races. Thanks for reading


Marlene said...

Great article - thanks for sharing.

I'll keep the 4 C's in mind for sure.

Marcy said...

Excellent post chica!!! Now I'm off to check out the article . . .

Kim said...

Thanks for the info.
Hope things are getting back to 'normal' and past all that start of school stuff for you. that can be very tiring. Take it easy.

And on a side note-those seeds ticks ARE REAL LIVING creatures. Soooo gross!

Jess said...

Mental tuning is sometimes the most important tuning!

BeachRunner said...

Great post. I will tack this info up on my running bulletin board.

Julianne said...

Thanks for sharing Marci! I just printed the 4 Cs out to read again later! Good luck with your training this week!

Running Knitter said...

Great post! Thanks!

*aron* said...

thanks for sharing the article! looks like some great info in there. good luck on the training this week!!

SLB said...

Great post

Ah yes it's all a mental game...imagining you can do is only 33% believing you can do it is another 33% and doing it the last 33%...the remaining 1% is those little WTF was I thinking moments we all have!

Lily on the Road said...

Right on, I'm going to print this out!

Catching up for T.O. will be fun, are you staying downtown???

Steve Stenzel said...

Nice week! And enjoy the upcoming races!!

Blog My said...

thought I could use a little mental training "tune up".
always a plus to keep the mental side tuned up.....main reason why are started to run Ulta's was the mental side :-)

I like being Mental--haha