Mind Games

When the going gets tough in a WOD, which is pretty much every workout, there is a mind game you can learn to play to get you through it.

Let’s first get one thing out in the open and upfront - If you’re doing it right, at some point in the workout you are going to reach a point where it hurts. And, I don’t mean the bad kind of pain that signals injury. I mean the good kind of pain that really sucks, but we also know that it’s making us stronger.

The funny thing about pain, though, is that only about 10% is actually physical, and the other 90% is in how you perceive that pain and how you choose to move on with it. A few of us are actually able to just ignore it. Some of us can bear it. Others can bear some of it. And, others of us get consumed by it.

If you focus on the pain and keep thinking about it and how much it sucks, your body will respond accordingly. It truly is mind over matter.

Most of us can’t ignore the pain, though, so what can we do instead?!

REPLACE the negative thought with a task. Also known as a distraction. So, here’s what you do…

I’ll use today’s workout as an example:

2 RFT
800m Run
20 DB Power Cleans
50 ft DB Front Rack Walking Lunges
20 DB Push Press
50ft FRWL

During the first 400m Run, I was fine, but then starting the second lap, I felt my legs getting heavy, and my lungs starting to heave. Lo and behold, as I focused on the fast approaching pain, my body started to slow down in the run. That’s when I had to block my thoughts and put on my coaching hat - I started coaching myself in the run, reminding myself to strike mid-foot and then kick back, and lean forward slightly like in Pose Running. I kept tweaking my form, nit-picking my movement patterns, and before I knew it, I was already done with the run.

I had to break up the 20 DB Power Cleans into sets of 5 because I had a heavier weight today. The first two sets were fine, but then I didn’t want to pick up the DBs again for the third set. I was already tired, and it was super humid in the gym. I kept allowing myself to rest, and then I finally had to tell myself to shut up, and I started to recite the steps on how to set up for the DB Power Clean. Feet underneath my hips, hands on the DBs, chest up, tension in the hamstrings, stand and squeeze the butt while shrugging, and then catch. I kept repeating to myself to keep my chest up and shrug my shoulders, and it got me through my last two sets quickly.

Then, again, everything hurt and I felt like someone was sitting on my chest. And, again, I had to shut off my negative (yet completely normal) response to the pain, and keep shouting in my head coaching commands. Pick up the DBs, hold in front rack, step forward keeping front foot flat, don’t let the knee collapse in, keep chest up, stay engaged…

Okay, so you get the point -

When the going gets tough, turn off the “crybaby” and turn on your inner “coach.”

For lack of a better way to explain it, when done effectively, you’ll find yourself in an almost indifferent state of mind. Being in this indifferent state allows you to really push your body as far as it can actually go physically, and NOT be held back by your mindset and any negative beliefs you may have about yourself and your abilities.

We really are our own worst enemy when it comes to the workouts.

BUT, we can also be our own best friend and coach. We just have to train it. Just as we have to train our muscles, we gotta train our minds.

So… In your next workout, when it starts to get tough and painful, flip the switch and start coaching yourself through the movement. Don’t worry about how many reps you have left. Don’t worry about the clock. Don’t worry about where everyone else is in the workout. Don’t even worry about the next rep.

FOCUS on the task at hand, right in front of you, and coach yourself through it. Focus on what needs to be done in the moment (ex. Put your hands on the barbell, set your feet, chest up, and so on).

And, it takes practice, guys, so don’t get discouraged the first few times you try this. You most likely will fail and get frustrated, and that is totally normal. It’s just like Double Unders - You’ll get whipped a few times before you get it right. ;-)

Just keep trying, and you’ll get better and better at it, and eventually it will become your new default and auto-pilot.

Turn your pain into your coach! ;-)

Kara PurvesComment