Where do most training injuries and issues come from? Usually it is a lack of focus in some area such as improper training or something similar. A lack of attention in the mental area of training can easily become more of an issue compared to twisting an ankle or something more mundane that most of us worry more about on a day-to-day basis. We forget the lessons learned and general logic we have and just plow ahead almost mindlessly at times until a roadblock makes us stop.
So what can you do about it? Here are some useful tips about keeping your mental game sharp to make sure you are getting the most out of your training. Try focusing on all of these things:
What is Your Goal – If you have a clearly defined goal then you can have a clearly defined training plan. It is as simple as that. Once you have those goals in hand you can design the proper type of program that fits those needs.
Have a Plan – Along with your training program have specific goals that you should be meeting. If you are a runner, look to increase your mileage each week. If you lift weights, look to increase your poundage. But make sure to allow flexibility so if things come up you can compensate within your plan. Make sure the plan includes plenty of rest, proper warm-ups, and proper cool downs to lessen the chances of injury.
Keep a Journal – Track what you do, when you do it, how it works, and the results. Proper information is a key to not only tracking progress but look for weaknesses. If you do get extra sore or pains you then have a blueprint to look back on and see what might have caused it. “Oh, I always seem to get sore the day after I run but only if I do a leg workout the day before that.”
Pace Yourself – A lot of people try for too much too soon. They are so eager to reach their goals that they push themselves too hard and this often is a big reason for injury. You can also burn yourself out mentally as well as physically. Exercise should be enjoyable and fun for people. If you push too hard too fast it might seem like work instead of something you do because you enjoy the feeling and results.
Listen to Your Body – Sometimes the body whispers to us when there are problems, other times it has to scream. Personally, I prefer the whispers because usually they are less painful. Learning to listen to what cues your body gives is important. Sometimes you need rest and you will get indicators from your body; follow them! Other times you will get twinges that might be a precursor to something more serious, so don’t push through it hoping it goes away.
Train Wisely – If you know what you should be doing then do it. Don’t be one of those people who says, “Well I should…but I never do.” That is just setting yourself up for failure and then giving yourself an excuse.