In the sport of skating, this is the time of year that athletes are a little run down from the long season of pre-competitions. School has started and spending the day at the rink is no longer an option for most.
Even though the first thought for most athletes is to hit the training harder before the end of the season, remember that taking time to enjoy yourself might be the best thing you can do at this time in your training.
Taking care of your mental outlook before you get too tired to train will:
- Physically give you more energy to train harder
- Help you body to recover faster
- Give you a mental break from the difficult routine so that you can come back refreshed
- Allow you to think clearer and get your schoolwork done better and faster
- Decrease your stress and worry
I run for exercise. At the halfway point of my morning run there is a bench on a bluff that overlooks the water. One thing I always to do is jump on the bench and hold both arms in the air and pretend that I am King of the world. It makes me smile and also makes the second half of my run easier. This is an example of a mini mental break.
Building in mini mental breaks don’t require large chunks of time. It could take just minutes to do something that makes you smile. Smiling changes your body chemistry, releasing endorphins that create all sorts of positive benefits in your body (1).
Make some Smile Time:
- Walk outside and catch an “eevee” (Pokemon Go)
- Make yourself a cheery fruit cup, arranged beautifully, for a snack at the rink.
- Have a creamy hot chocolate to warm you inside and out.
- Watch a funny video during an ice cut.
- Watch a cute animal video.
- Snapchat funny pictures to your best friend using a crazy filter.
When I run during the late summer, eating and collecting a few blackberries at the end of the run makes me smile. A few weeks ago when I was cooling down from my run, I looked up and saw a vine of blackberries hanging down from the top of a huge holly tree. They were the largest and juiciest berries I had seen this year. They were also too high for me to reach no matter how high I jumped (which is not too high :).
The next day after a rain storm, to my delight I found that the some of the berries were within my reach. Whether it was because the rainfall had pushed the vines down or because the berries had gotten heavier, I was able to reach some of them!
You can find these moments during your training if you slow down and pay attention to being present in each task you are doing. It’s what we call “being present in the moment.”
Building in mental breaks will help you focus more strongly and fully when you need to land your triple jumps or center your combo spin.
One more thought about my raspberry run if you will. Being a mental game coach, my mind is always looking for ways of motivating and inspiring athletes. Life is full of metaphors, and this experience for me was no exception.
As I was picking the berries, not only did I get poked by the thorns of the blackberry vine, but I also got scratched by the leaves of the holly tree it was draped over.
The universe has a funny way of sending messages. The berries were beautiful and delicious, worth all the scratches and the time spent waiting for them.
You may get skinned knees and elbows, but it’s worth it if you score a spectacular goal. –Mia Hamm
- Come up with 5-10 things that make you smile or laugh.
- Make a date to do at least one thing a day (put it on your schedule or set an alarm)
- Explore what works for you this week
- Make it a habit
- Keep looking for more fun things to do
- Do it for the rest of your life
(1) Kleiman, Karen. “Try Some Smile Therapy,” psychologytoday.com
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