Searching for peak performance techniques
Athletes are always looking for ways to bring up their performance at every training. The answer to that is both simple and difficult.
Simple part of peak performance training
The simple part of the performance raising techniques is that you can see what others use and try and see the results almost immediately. If you manage to pinpoint your suitable technique for peak performance, you can train that to be effective in training and competition. You can find tricks and suggestions everywhere, just listen and research what other athletes are doing and try yourself. You can also ask a psychological performance trainer to come and figure it out with you.
Difficult part of peak performance training
To raise your performance, considering you already have a good and well balanced training plan, the right exercises at the right time and you are not a beginner, every small detail counts. What makes it difficult is that what raises your performance is individual. What works for me, might not work for you. What works for Serena Williams might not work for up and coming tennis players. What works for Lionel Messi, might not work for you. So tricks and techniques are not always compatible within sport nor across different sports. But can be.
Figuring out what supports better performance
As you might now, I am training in sprint kayaking, I am fairly beginner, but have a lot of motivation. I had a long laid back season and at the moment are preparing for proper training, so it is a good time to test many things. This week was supposed to be a week to raise the time and effort spent on training from 7 to 9 hours. Then Christmas happened and I let loose a bit. As I know sometimes you need a good rest, I did not worry too much about it and thought my first training back will be full of energy. The first training was 1.5 h/ 10km on kayaking ergo-meter. Straight from the start I felt that though the difficulty was normal, what I am used to and it was not hard to keep the pace, my heart rate stayed around 100 and for the life of me, I did not seem to be able to raise it. I almost gave up but decided to focus on just pulling through and focus on the technique and just determination to stay on for 10km.
What WAS different and what I didn’t think was a factor at the moment, was that while I was training, I had youtube on playing some military psychology documentary. My mind was at the story they were telling. I thought well while the training is not so hard, I can watch the documentary and use the time.
That was yesterday.
Today, I had a long sleep, rested perfectly and though I did have my muscles sore I decided to do the training. I was hesitant because low heart rate sometimes means there is over exhaustion so if that were the case, I shouldn’t have been able to work out very hard. I decided to take 15 minutes warm up on ergo-meter and then do gym stuff. But the funniest thing happened. My heart rate went almost immediately up to 130, 140 and stayed there. I did not work too hard, it was a stable grind, and I felt the work and it kept there pretty nicely. The difficulty was pretty much the same as well. I ended up doing 50 minutes of ergo, heart rate at average 138 and some 3 minute laps at 150-160 heart rate. It was an amazing training. What was different? Yes, I did have my phone on. Yes I was listening to something but that something was my favorite music that already is connected with good times on the water, kayaking, training, preparations, excitement. I started to change my tempo according to the songs, keeping up for higher heart rate during songs that pump me up, and for the whole length.
What happened and what can you learn about preparing yourself for better performance on your training?
What actually happened was focus. The music I had was yes, upbeat for me but it also helped me keep my focus on training. What I was doing. And that is the key. In psychological performance coaching, finding ways to keep your focus on the next step, the stroke, the breathing, the technique, etc is the main work. “What do you need to do to get to the performance you are aiming at today, right now?”. You eliminate the distractions, you also eliminate the thoughts that are not on point. So when you are thinking about what to buy for dinner, you are not there. When you are worrying about how you look on a treadmill, you are not working as focused and as efficiently as you could. Yes, you are doing work out, you are moving and are getting better, but not as well as you could.
Attention – key ingredient in performance
Keeping your attention or put in another way “keeping your eyes on the prize”, is hard. That is why it needs to be trained, and trained, and trained. It is the core of psychological performance training and it takes time. Our attention span is narrowing and it is easy to let the mind wonder. But for elite athletes, peak performers on any field be it sports or business, attention and focus on current work at hand is the key for efficient and better performance that is actually using and enhancing your potential.
Where are you kind of walking through the workout, not fully paying attention to what you are doing? How do you do that (what extra activities do you have during training, or should I say distractions? Is it bad self-talk, worrying or thinking about unrelated things? Chatting with friends on Facebook?). Or maybe all seems to be right but you don’t seem to find that extra element to get you further? If so, let’s talk and see what can be changed for more efficient workout and performance. Let me know how this post helped you and feel free to tag me if you had a high performance session using this trick the way it helps you (Instagram: liisi_toom).
NB! There are many factors that need to be understood about fatigue, rest, increasing training load, emotions, attributions, etc. This is just one small peace of example how psychological performance training works and what it is and how it can be used. So please, please, see it holistically and understand that each individual is different.