Friday, May 31, 2013

Team Q&A: Brain Matter

For this installment of Team Q&A, we asked everyone, "What goes through your head when you train?" Here's the first installment of answers:

Charlie: I think my thoughts vary a lot when I'm training. I usually just let my mind wander and do whatever it wants to do. I end up thinking about the events of the day or things I need to do soon. I also find it's a perfect time to think about life direction issues - things I want to do with my kids, things I want to support more, work and life goals, etc. So many problems get solved while I'm working out when I'm really not even trying to solve them, and I feel incredible stress relief after workouts. I also usually focus on how fortunate I am to be physically able to accomplish the workout I'm performing and what a beautiful community I live in.

Sarah: My thoughts tend to vary with the workout I'm doing. If I’m just out for a long run or doing long sets in the pool, my brain tends to work through my day and process all I've seen and done. I prioritize my to do lists, plan my day or week, and come up with basic formatting of emails I need to send. If I'm doing intervals or a really hard tempo, I turn on what I call my “drill sergeant” mode, where I basically yell at myself internally to go faster and push harder. Regardless of the workout I'm doing, I almost always tick through the fraction of the workout completed: ¼ of the way there, ⅓ of the way through, ½ way done. Minnesota in spring is just glorious, and I find myself giving thanks for my health, the droves of people out there with me who are celebrating their own health, and living in a community that respects living an active lifestyle enough to put money into great running trails, good biking paths, and dozens of local pools.

Sara: What is in my mind varies greatly depending on if I'm alone in my somewhat nasty basement on the trainer (boo) or outside with friends (yay). When I'm alone, I definitely need to mix things up with some challenging sets. In the pool I find that my mind wanders quite a bit so I try to really focus on keeping track of my laps and staying smooth. My old nickname, “Sara the Slapper” still applies since I slap at the water when I get really tired, so I try to really focus on keeping my stroke smooth. When I'm riding outside with friends, I think about how fun it is and how rare it is for me to get out on the bike with actual humans. I used to really take bike rides for granted, but now that I've got the two little ones, I've really come to appreciate a nice group ride in a way that I didn't before. Riding outside is my own version of “happy hour,” minus the beer, occasional hangover, and loud music. Any chance I get to combine friends with workouts just makes me ridiculously happy, since I honestly don't get to do that much during the school year. Running alone presents a good time for me to zone out and really push myself. I love playing little mental games with my Garmin and seeing what I can pull off. This past week I somehow beat my (very old) 5 mile PR on a tempo run. When I saw my Garmin click over to “5,” I thought about how far I've come. It sounds kind of cheesy but I think on those solo outings I really prove to myself what I'm made of and I get pretty excited to think about what I might be able to accomplish. 

JP: Quite honestly, random thinking is my enemy when I am training. I like to be in the moment, appreciating being outside, and performing constant system checks. The system is basically form and energy level. I tweak things based on those checks by eating, drinking, or adjusting little bits of my technique. Random thoughts don't help me as I don't like to be distracted. I think focus is one of the most overlooked aspects of racing. It’s a really important part of my personal puzzle. 

Matt: I am a very competitive person, and I am constantly thinking about the next race and what it will take to win. If I’m doing a bike workout, I'm envisioning myself out on the bike course putting in big power, pulling away from the field. If im running, im thinking about coming down the final stretch in the lead with my arms out like an airplane bringing home the W. If I'm in the water, I am constantly sizing up the other people in the pool and trying to drop them. I am a competitor and will do whatever it takes to improve and put forth my best performance on that day, ultimately bringing home the W!