“Long Monostructural Workouts”
A long run, swim, bike or burpee test. Long monostructrual workouts often present the biggest mental challenge to athletes.
The longer (and more monotonous) the workout, the more time there is to think. The more time to think, the more time your brain has to consider what’s hurting, how badly it wants to stop, and the discomfort of it all.
You’ll want to make sure that you know how to have your thoughts working for you, not against you, so that you can keep pushing the pace.
Plan For Endurance
Here’s a quick strategy that you can try when facing endurance events.
Practice switching your focus between “association” and “dissociation” during longer events (running, swimming, rowing, etc.). Get comfortable tuning into, and then away from your bodily sensations, by changing what you’re thinking about.
Tuning into your breathing, pace, mechanics, muscular sensations, changes in your body, pain, cadence, speed, etc.
Directing your attention away from bodily sensations and distracting the mind. This can be done with music and singing lyrics, playing mind games, counting, or visualizations, Think about your friends/family. Pray, recall the past or simply list things you are grateful for.
However, you don’t want to stay in dissociation too long. It’s important to check back in with your form and technique to get the most out of your movement pattern.
Tune in/Tune Out
The more uncomfortable you begin to feel, and the more your thoughts start to be centered around “pain” or “discomfort,” the more important it is for you to be able to switch your focus to something more helpful.
The best athletes have practiced this technique and are comfortable “tuning in” and “tuning out.” They know how to switch their focus back and forth. They can stay calm and relaxed, yet steady and consistent. They remain confident and positive, and can easily switch up their thoughts. Why? Because they have a plan (especially when they catch themselves feeling pain, discomfort or thinking negative thoughts).