by David Asp, Head Coach – Red Wing Nordic
Being involved in a sport like cross country skiing means being physically active, training our muscles to be stronger and improving the biochemical process of technique and equipment.
What often gets overlooked in athletic performance is mental training or training our brain to have an outstanding performance. The importance of mental training has been realized for decades however many coaches and athletes pay little attention to the importance roles one’s brain has in athletic performance.
“It is the brain, not the heart or lungs that is the critical organ.” Roger Bannister (1st person to break the 4 minute mile).
No athlete, no matter how strong or physically gifted, can be successful if they have difficulty focusing/concentrating or lack confidence in themselves. Equally, some athletes let their nerves overtake them in the heat and pressure of competition.
One’s brain is like a CEO of a corporation…it is the executor of what goes on in our body physically and emotionally and most experts now realize that an athletic performance is largely mental, that is it is greatly influenced by what goes on between the ears or what someone is thinking.
There are many aspects of mental training with cross country skiing. These include:
1. Positive self talk
2. Confidence building
3. Setting appropriate goals
4. Arousal control
5. Imagery and visualization
At Red Wing Nordic, training includes not only learning good technique, getting stronger physically but also training one’s mind for an outstanding performance whether in practice or in a race.
Jesse Diggins on Mental Toughness
Jesse Diggins USA Olympic team cross country skier says, “If I ever finish a race with enough energy to remain standing at the finish line, I’m disappointed in myself.” In her recent blog she writes, “Because that means that I didn’t give everything I had, that I held back and was too scared to push myself into that place where I’m skiing just outside my limits.”
“To me, that’s the worst feeling in the world…looking back at the finish line of anything-a race, a test, a project-and knowing I could have pushed harder and didn’t. Sure, it’s not pretty when I’m falling apart at the finish, but one day I’ll be strong enough to keep it together longer and longer…the ability and the will to go deep into the pain cave is my greatest asset, and something I’ll always have.”
For a primer on MENTAL PREPARATION & VISUALIZATION go to iTunes Podcast of Runner Academy Episode number 51 or go to Runner Academy website http://runneracademy.com/ra051-dr-david-asp-running-visualization/
Long Distance by Bill McKibben
Swimming to Antarctica by Lynne Cox
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
Ultra Marathon Man by Dean Karnazes
A Life Without Limits by Chrissie Wellington
Endless Winter by Luke Bodensteiner
The First 20 Minutes by Gretchen Reynolds