What you Need to Move Past a Tough Training Session

Giving yourself the opportunity to be okay with the ups and downs of training is important. No one has consistently perfect training sessions, no matter how positive they seem or how awesome their workouts look on social media. Here are my tips so you don't get hung up on a tough training session:

Shift your mentality 

We have all had those days where we are so frustrated or angry during a training session, that we just can't seem to find our way out. We are so worked up, it literally feels like the sky is falling (Chicken Little anyone?) Shifting your mentality is certainly one of the most difficult and personally rewarding challenges to work on. This is also often referred to as "mindfulness." Can you recognize your emotions while they are happening? Can you notice how they are affecting you, and redirect your attention? This becomes important when we know difficult training sessions will come no matter what. Practice noticing thoughts and emotions in day to day situations, as well as during training sessions (good and bad). Learning to redirect helps train us for competition that has uncontrollable factors in play, and to get the most out of a practice when it's an unfavorable situation. 

Move forward, don't look back

What has happened has happened. The more you dwell and think about that rough training session, the less time you are focused on being present in the moment. You are not helping yourself by mentally beating yourself down because a training session did not go as planned or as hoped. Really, who cares? Now what? Bring yourself to the present moment. You will have the next training session to practice being present, and meanwhile you need to do the right things now to prepare and recover for what comes next. 

Know who you can talk to in your support system 

When you can be honest and open with yourself or someone else, you are giving yourself the freedom to make mistakes. Without that freedom, it can be overwhelming each time you feel like you have "messed up" a training session. Find someone who can listen to your frustrations to help you refocus and realize that this is a small part of the larger picture. 

Give yourself a break

Be gentle with yourself. I've spoken about this in other blogs and I will continue to say this over and over. The longevity of your mental health in sport, or in whatever you do, is critical. If you continue to beat yourself up each time you have a tough training session, you can bet that your motivation for continuing in sport will begin to fade. If you are good at beating yourself up, then it's going to be a hard path to continue following. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt and remember you're human and not meant to be perfect. 

Journal for improvements 

Always keep a journal! When you are noticing your thoughts, write them down! If you can remember what thoughts you actually notice during a practice, good or "bad," you will start to learn how to remind yourself to come back to the moment. 

Just keep going 

Tough sessions often mean great breakthroughs are on the horizon! That's because when we don't give into the thoughts that say "just give up," we tend to make mental or physical breakthroughs that we didn't know we were capable of reaching. It is actually an exciting time, so keep on keepin' on! 

When Should You be Journaling?

Having a journal for sport is so much more than writing down a specific technique, or pouring out your emotions on the page. Journaling becomes a log of where you are at a certain point in your training. You begin to see patterns in your behaviors or actions, and how you handle situations that arise in sport. Journaling can become your place to tell it like it is, and learn to move forward despite how you felt.

It takes another level of discipline to sit yourself down and recognize the good, the bad, and the ugly of a practice session or of a workout. I firmly believe that if you are challenged and uncomfortable by journaling, then it is even more imperative that you begin. Challenge is the essence of growing, and in sport and life, we need every opportunity to practice being uncomfortable.

Being able to find honesty, and then peace with whatever happened in your day can help transform the way you look at improving yourself daily. And that is exactly what we look for... the times when you aren't sure what's ahead, we must have faith that the work will pay off. Can I continue to grind despite the feeling of traveling downhill on the rollercoaster? When I journaled about a tough time before, can I hold on and keep pushing since I know there will be a light at the end of the tunnel?

Now that we know the importance and value in keeping a journal, when are the best times to pull out that journal and jot some notes down?

First, get yourself to practice early. Use your journal as a way to create goals for the day or for the practice session, as well as a way to describe the thoughts and feelings you notice. Sometimes when you are heading into a practice you know will be tough, you have nerves, thoughts, worries or fears. Give yourself the opportunity to be honest with those feelings. By writing down those thoughts, you have honored those feelings and can now redirect your focus onto whats important: practice. A thought does not predict what will happen in practice (there are always opportunities to play with sports psychology and mindfulness!). 

In terms of your practice goals, describe the areas you hope to put your attention towards (redirection, noticing being in the moment). Write down the specific technique that you need to include in that day's practice. Include the focus drills you will need complete on your own at the end of practice. 

Its very typical that once you get into the practice, your specific areas of focus could change. If thats what comes up, take it! Journaling is not about being perfect. The concept is not to create a map for a perfect practice, and then punish yourself if it doesn't follow that path. Really, who cares? By journaling, you created an intent to focus. You created a theme to your practice, not a regimen. 

Once practice is done and your cool down is in its last stages, pull out that journal again. I like to journal when I've finished my cool down routine and I am ready to stretch and rehydrate. I am relaxed, I have most likely finished any of the extra drills I need to complete, spoken to coaches, or drilled extra technique. I get to bring my focus to reflecting on the last few hours. 

Curate a consistency with the topics you journal about. This will make it easier to build your training and mentality journal around a dependable theme. Take the guess work out of the process:

  • Talk about the specific techniques you worked on. This should be detailed enough for yourself that you will be able to understand and perform it when you need to refer back to your journal.
  • Discuss areas during the practice that presented challenge and may need added attention.
  • Mentality: what thoughts came up during practice? When were you kind to yourself for having those thoughts? When and with what kind of technique did you help yourself put your focus back on being in the moment?
  • List the extra drills you worked on, and need to remain in your repertoire.  

Whatever you choose to journal about, your continued effort helps you see patterns develop over time. There are more topics than listed above, and there will be certain times in your training where some topics are much more important than others. It's just how your career and training develops over time and you change as a person! 

Best of luck trying out the awesome-ness of journaling! 

 

Katherine 

How to Track Your Cycle and Better Prepare for Competition

Tracking your cycle can help you plan for competitions, assist in unknowns if you need to manage your weight, and increase your competitive advantage. As much as I don't plan on getting into an anatomy lesson, I do believe that all girls and women should be armed with a little education. Your cycle refers to the first day of your period, up to the day before you next period begins. On average, a cycle is 28 days, but can be as short as 21 or can be as long as 35 days. It is important for you to start tracking how long your cycle is. This will help you know (on average) when your period will begin each month. This is hugely valuable for preparing yourself each month during competition seasons, for whatever sport you do. 

Track

The first step is to TRACK. The best time to learn this process is to start in the off season. Writing down in a calendar, a journal, or using a phone app will be essential tools to track your period and your cycle so you are not required to memorize everything!

Clue is a great app, as well as Period Diary, Monthly Cycles, and Cycles. Check out the tools each app provides to help you decide which one will work best for you. Record the symptoms leading up to your period before, during, and after. Record your weight, your appetite, and your moods. All of these symptoms will help you better understand what to anticipate at what times during the month. 

Look for Patterns

The second step is to look for PATTERNS. Some girls experience no weight changes, mood changes, etc. Knowing your typical symptoms will help you understand what will be present during which parts of your cycle. If you are looking to track your weight during your cycle specifically, the BEST way to accurately track this would be while you are not wrestling or doing other sports, most likely during the summer. Begin by recording your weight at different times of the month and see if a pattern emerges. Specially record half way through your cycle, the days leading up to your period, and then each day during your period. Make sure at this time you are eating fairly normal for yourself. This is important to giving yourself a fair and accurate understanding of your body. 

If you notice that you are gaining weight around your period and are looking for ways to help manage that symptom, check out the article I did on rehydration after weigh-ins here. Knowing the foods that help you hold on to water to rehydrate, will be a smart way to also know how you can apply the theory in reverse. Salt is a fantastic way to help the body hold on to water, especially after depleting workouts and competitions. Knowing that by eliminating the salt, you can help reduce the amount of water you body holds on to. 

Remember, a typical symptom leading up to and while you are on your period is also food cravings. Its important to know the different between water retention and realizing after the fact that it was our own choices. 

Plan

By understanding and knowing when your period will start and what comes along with it when your period shows up around competition times, you will be prepared instead of surprised. The best tools we can have for combating difficult situations is always to educate ourselves on our options! 

If you would like to see a blog on the types of products you can use and can help you while you are practicing or competing on your period, let me know in the comments below! 

 

 

 

Is Sports Psychology Important for a Tournament Day?

Majority of our time and effort is spent learning technique and strategies to prep for competition day. Your strategy should also include prepping your mind. And this is much different from the mental strength we build while we push ourselves in the practice room. These mental strategies are all about giving our minds the best tools to allow our bodies to perform. 

In terms of comparisons, forgetting about mental training or sports psychology is like buying an expensive car and forgetting to put the correct oil in it. We spend countless hours training our bodies to perform at an optimum level, and then expect our minds relinquish the power to our bodies without training it. 

The first step is creating a plan for yourself. Creating a plan to follow is helpful to give yourself a chance to repeat and improve on what you like to do before and on competition day. Get yourself a piece of paper (or a sport journal!) and write down the things you did at a recent competition:

1. What was your routine the day before competition/weigh-ins?

2. What did you eat/drink the day before, and after weight-ins?

3. How did you prep after weigh-ins?

4. What is your warm up like?

  • Would you make any changes?
  • Who was your partner?
  • Duration and intensity of warm up
  • Time after warm up before competition began

5. Your pre match warm-up and post match cool-down?

 

Now, as important as creating your plan is, I believe this next section is 10x MORE important. THIS IS WHAT MAKES AND BREAKS ATHLETES TRYING TO REACH THE NEXT LEVEL. What happens when this plan does not go through like expected? What happens when the partner you usually warm up with is sick, or your parents say the wrong thing to you, or you ate the wrong thing and now you are feeling unlike your usual self? You have to be flexible in your mind to let it pass and move on to the next thing. You may be able to control what you do in order to prep yourself in the best way possible, but that does mean that you live in a bubble. The unexpected, the uncontrollable, the unfortunate can still penetrate "the plan." Now, on the next page of your journal write down the answers to these questions: 

1. What thoughts did you notice throughout your competition?

  • Morning of
  • During warm-up
  • Each match

2. Name 4 values pertaining to you as a person, not yourself as a competitor 

  • Katherine's Example:
    • One of my core values is Generosity

3. How do you represent your 4 values at a competition? 

  • Katherine's Example:
    • Being at my best, being prepared, and having the most fight in the match will be the most generous gesture to my opponents 

3. What cues from your values can you use to move forward when your mind serves up certain thoughts?

 

This is what will help your mind to let your body do the job it knows how to do. It doesn't matter if you have the perfect warm-up, the perfect weight cut, the perfect understanding of technique. You don't need to be perfect because nothing needs to be "fixed." Being perfect does not guarantee that you will come out the victor. But your values, they will always be the core of you. And tying your values to that love and desire to compete is what will give yourself the best chance. To know that your mind will serve up thoughts, MANY thoughts. Thoughts that you don't want to think. But they will, and tying yourself to the things you value allows you to bring your focus on competing moment by moment, instead of competing with a fear of loosing. 

Sports psychology is a journey, not a race. Be patient with it! I have a lot more where this came from, so leave a comment below if you can relate to this and you want more advice on the topic! 

Katherine 

 

 

Goal Setting and Journaling for Athletes

Keeping a journal can be extremely beneficial for your athletic career. However, having a strategy and a plan is important for getting started. Watch the video for tips about how I create my long term goals, my short term goals, and my process goals. I give you some insight into how I do my daily journal, and why its important for athletes and wrestlers to keep one! Enjoy!