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Get the right MINDSET: how to get through a long & tough workout

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On Thursday and Saturday at GW we have programmed 30 to 35 minute conditioning pieces that asked athletes to control their intensity and work at a consistent pace. The aim was to use a mixed modality (i.e. multiple movements) workout to build aerobic capacity, muscular endurance and teach pacing.

Did you under estimate how difficult the volume was going to be? Did you select weights or set a pace that left you out of gas by the 12-minute mark? We’ve all been in situations like this. I am a firm believer that it is how we approach it mentally that will be the separator.

Lets take a bird’s eye view of any 30-minute workout. The intention will always be endurance of some sort: you can’t sprint for that long and you can’t lift maximal weights for high repetitions for that long. Your goal is therefore to find a pace and loadings that will allow consistency of effort for a long period of time.

Then, to prevent the negative inner voice from taking over once you are fatigued (“this is too hard” or “I’m good at short workouts, not long ones, lets quit”) try employing these strategies:

  • One more rep: when that inner voice is telling you to drop the barbell you must fight back with one more rep. Completing just one more rep when your mind is screaming at you to stop and rest is a positive step towards training your mental muscle.
  • Small goals: when I am in a workout I always breakdown each round and set small goals for each movement. For example, in the Hero WOD “Rene” I will set small goals for each part:
    • Run – keep a steady pace and choose targets to run to, i.e. “keep pushing to that tree” then once at the target, adjust and choose another. Never stop running.
    • Lunges – first goal is get more than half of the 21 done before I turn around. That way I can take a breath, turn and know that there aren’t many more to complete
    • Pull Ups – I’ll start with 5. If 5 feel good, I’m going to keep going till 8-10. At this point I will probably feel fatigued and that’s when I’ll employ my “just one more rep” strategy. Small goals, fast reps, short rests!
    • Burpees – the last movement to complete a round. Not many reps, just get them done and then I can have a couple of seconds rest to mark down my completed round, have a swig of water and then off on the run again!
  • Shins on the bar: positive postures are very important to building a strong mindset. I often see lots of wasted energy on drama in all sports. When the going gets tough, the tough don’t throw tantrums and wander around the gym seeking empathy for how hard the workout is. If you need to rest, stay close to your equipment. Stand tall, take deep breaths, use your inner monologue to set another small goal then 3-2-1-GO! By staying in control of your emotions you will move faster and you will get fitter.

Your body is capable of more than you know. Your mind drags the body along – try using these strategies and see how much you will improve!