I found that there are quite a few missing links in the swim/bike/run cross training for the every day triathlete: strength, flexibility, mental endurance and meditation to name a few. Physical prowess is only one cog in the machine that is the amazing human body. We need to cultivate more than just the specific muscles used during our ‘main 3’ sports. We need to restore what we break down. Strengthen the supporting muscles. Practice what it’s like to endure. And finally, but definitely not least, calm our mind and focus on the task at hand.
While some might pay lip service to the ‘extra’ parts to training, I am finding that they are more integral than people might think. And so, as part of the monthly fee for joining WAVES, we now include Yoga. I know I need the stretching that Yoga provides, as well as the connection to core muscles and balance.
The part I think is most crucial right now, however, is the focus. Focus on the breath. Find yourself wandering 100 times during class and when you do, acknowledge it and 100 times, return to your focus on the breath. This is the place where I, and so many other endurance athletes have room to grow. Too often we hear and head that little voice in our head when things get hard. That voice that doubts and takes attention away from the present moment – either thinking about past negative experiences or focusing on negative outcomes that haven’t even happened.
What a different experience it would be if we could acknowledge the chatter in our brains while racing, or even training, and then focus back on the task at hand. What we think and what we think about what we are thinking can easily derail us (and often does). What a skill to cultivate – the ability to acknowledge that our brain wanders, and then bring it back with no judgement.
Because after all, our breath is still happening. Waiting for us to return our focus. Just like our legs are still churning. My goal for myself and my athletes is to practice returning your focus to the present and then see the power of what having focused energy can actually do.