This Week's Training Discussion and Focus: Attitude
There is much being written and discussed this past month on the need for a positive mental outlook for both training and racing and that it is as important as physical preparation...absolutely. No greek god can mail it in and get a victory. But there are some fundamental differences in positive outlook and attitude (or as the latest interweb chatter confuses it with, "grit".) Attitude is a combination of confidence as a result of training and it's a realistic assessment of your abilities. It inherently can adjust as your training or race situation changes. Or as one of our athlete's says, "Let's see what happens to your positive outlook with two flat tires."
Attitude is trainable and its basis lies in your training log. It's resilience lies in the amount of time put in training (all hours are quality), and its objectives in the assessment you have of yourself based on that training. Note what attitude is not: confidence, grit, toughness. As our friend said up there, you can eat nails for breakfast but lets see how tough you are when someone has kicked your goggles into the next lake. Here are our tips for training attitude:
Train to have outcome correlate with initial expectation and visa-versa. And the only way to do that is with a training log of some form. Few athletes are dissappointed with their perceived level of effort (PLOE) at the end of a workout - it's simply not how we're wired. Sure we can check our times, our power profile, and so on but that is an academic exercise that may or may not impact your training profile. Studying your training log can help you identify your performance trends and set an expectation at the start of your training/race day.
Show up to training with a focus. Attitude isn't throwing ego around. It's a focus understanding that all performance, preparation, and situations serve an intent. For some it may very well be to "get through the training session." While certainly there is much to consider with this kind of focus such as overtraining, etc. there is much positive here which can help an athlete "get through training." Let's stay with this focus which some of us may consider inappropriate and even harmful for a training session. An athlete just trying to complete a session will have reduced stress due to performance anxiety, will probably be more flexible to training mishaps and environment: their goal is to get to the other end of training and what's great about our sport is that there indeed is a finish line (in fact there are three!) We used this as an example but it is not the attitude we'd like our athletes showing up with! Focus can be to excel on the bike or to be intent you won't waddle after getting off the bike for a run - damn it you will look like a runner! Pick a focus: today you'll deliver on how you've been training not by how you feel - that's attitude.
Visualization is critical to attitude - Your training and its outcomes and the expectations and focus require strong visualization exerise to establish the attitude you'll enter race day with. The "you cannot be it if you cannot see it" is not exactly what we're talking about here. Repeated review of your training log, visualizing how your effort led to a performance, is what is needed to make attitude. Absolutely, standing in the surf visualizing the entire race and how gorgeous you'll be is critical. But you also have to visualize your training (including that day where you showed up just to get the session in.) Past visualization is what gives you the attitude to stand on that beach in your wave and know what is about to happen.
The picture is of our Diane. She knows what she can do and its based on what she's done - she's seen it - and she's throwing around quite a bit of attitude before her swim.