The Mind Game

An Old Man’s Perspective

I mean to say how much can there be to this Mind Game thing?
In short? I reckon….lots and lots.
It think it’s fair to say it extends into all facets of our lives and I’m not going to get more involved than how it can impact in our training.

Have you ever heard “bring your A Game”? or “They have their head in the game”? or even “They have their game face on”?
Ok try these on for size:
“If you want to be the best you can be you have to include the practice of being present”
“If you always do what you have always done then you’ll always get what you have always been getting”
“If you need to make a change; make a change”

Part of my time towards the end of last century involved a considerable amount of personal development training, personal therapy and a couple of years of body orientated psychotherapy study and training. Being present with and for someone was integral and essential to that training and practice. It’s simple enough just not so easy.

How is it relevant to CrossFit?
Being present when you are training and competing can allow you to access a lot more of what you have to bring to the moment. If you are distracted, in any way, your ability to ‘bring it all’ can be compromised. The extent of that compromise will depend on the level of your distraction and your capacity to bring yourself back into the present.

If you are working on a single lift or a series of single lifts each time you lift you are very likely present for 5-8 seconds. Sometimes even that is not always easy – ever overthought something and gone all unco right when it mattered?

Just for a moment let’s imagine we are part way through a chipper style wod hunched over gasping for air or waiting for our heart rate to come down out of the red zone. It may be we slipped into some other mind space, somewhere else in our lives, and let go our grasp of the present moment and find ourselves overheated, heart rate spiked way up and we’ve lost the control we might have had of our performance within that wod.

It doesn’t take much to get distracted – the loud speaker? the crowd? a crying child especially if you think it’s yours? The irony in this hypothetical is that you are going to be very present when you are gasping for the next lungful of air or feeling your heart trying to launch itself from your shirt like something our of Ridley Scott’s imagination.

It is as complicated as it is simple, simultaneously at the same time which only serves to test our ability to access it …anyway….float don’t swim for a bit here ok. Breathe.

How can being present, being mindful of what I’m doing right now help?

  • Breathing; remembering to breathe rather than holding it; monitoring our rate of breathing for another.
  • Heart rate; with practice you can reduce your heart rate noticeably – could be of some use when you have two minutes rest between wods 1 & 2.
  • Assessing your recovery and readiness to make the next lift; without getting into yourself for letting things get away from you, concerning yourself with another athletes performance, watching the clock.
  • Achieving and maintaining your pacing strategy right from the get go and staying with it even though one of key your competitors appears to be pulling a head of you in the wod.
  • Taking care of yourself when that wod is over so you are as fully prepared for the next one as you can be – even when you are surrounded by all sorts of distraction that might be so much nicer to get involved in.
  • Staying on track with your commitment to get sufficient sleep for your training six nights out of seven at least
  • Staying in touch with your eating strategy so you don’t get distracted and indulge more often than your ‘one cheat meal per week’

What can I do to put some of this into practice at the gym?
Leave your life’s challenges, stresses, disappointments and random concerns in the car.
Leave them outside the gym doors while you train so you can get the most out of the session. Your ‘stuff’ will still be there when you are finished and you can pick it all up on your way out. I speak from some experience when I say being present with your self for an hour as you train and switching of the white noise of the modern life – might just put you into a better place to be able to manage all that other ‘stuff’.

Mindfulness and being present is something we can practice and hope to get some level of skill at. Seldom do we master it fully.
Some argument may arise how this sort of thinking is selfish. I suggest it could be selfless, without wanting to get too Zen or Buddhist about it.
And breathe.


Uncle Pete

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