Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Ninety percent of my game is mental. It's my concentration that has gotten me this far.” -Chris Evert

During a recent trainer workout , our coach Sage asked to us notice our thoughts and compare those to our thinking during the first race of the season. During the bike workout and to some extent during the race, we both noticed our minds wandering. As our concentration easily drifted away from the moment, our power lessened and our speed slowed.

One of the reasons we love endurance sports is that they generally help us stay in the present. It's tough to think about all of the other things on life's list when we're concentrating on just getting through a long workout. When we're constantly repeating "Just keep going!", the only thing that goes through our minds in putting one foot in front of the other.

But this year, we're not just trying to get through it - we're working, we're racing, and we're trying to get faster. And that takes A LOT more focus. At this point, we know we have the physical strength to get through the distances we're taking on -it's the mental toughness we're finding most challenging: the ability to dig deeper and find another gear when what we really want to do is cruise; the willingness to push and not quit during a speed work interval; and the control to acknowledge the intensity we're feeling in our muscles, but not let that acknowledgement distract us from our purpose.

To help train our minds, we've added visualization and meditation practice to our weekly schedules. Because we're new to this (and a little antsy!), we've started with only 2 minutes of concentrated meditation -- adding 30 seconds each time. The hot, flat sections of our next race will put this part of our training to the test.

In general life, it's all too easy to just cruise through. This year, however, we're not looking for easy - we're looking for intentional. As golfer Arnold Palmer says, with that intention, comes increased happiness: “Concentration, Confidence, Competitive urge, Capacity for enjoyment.”