Saturday, 1 December 2018

Eyes On The Prize

You’ve committed yourself to completing one of the toughest physical challenges you’ll ever have to face. The excitement you felt when you signed up has now given way to sheer panic as the reality of training sinks in.

Whether you’re looking at running a marathon, cycling across the country or trekking up a mountain, pushing yourself to take part in something way out of your comfort zone is a brave, bold and terrifying move. The good news is that taking on challenges like these has benefits not only to your physical health but also boosts confidence and your mental well being.

Physical challenges are some of the toughest you can train for because they don’t just require your body to be in tip-top condition but your mental toughness needs to be up there too. If endurance is about aching muscles, it’s also about grit and the determination to push through and complete the course.

How do you prepare for something so grueling and uncomfortable? You start now.

Plan Don’t Panic

For major sporting events, such as a marathon or endurance course, most of the sites will recommend a training plan for athletes. Take notice of it. Study it carefully and figure out if the schedule can be fitted in to your life. There’s no two ways about you may well have to sacrifice some of your cosy nights in and late starts for cold, dark training sessions but if you are to succeed, it’s a sacrifice well worth making.
Read around the mental aspect of training too and take on board any top tips from athletes that you respect.

Check you have all the equipment you’re going to need. Make sure your bike is primed and ready and activate that gym membership. Don’t get caught out in a last minute push for fitness that will leave you unprepared and open to injury, not to mention failure.

If your training schedule requires a lot to remember consider printing it out and placing it somewhere prominent. There’s not much more satisfying than ticking off another grueling training session. Get your fitness apps and training watch fully up to speed to track your sessions online.

Sometimes things do go wrong, even with the best preparation but even the bad training sessions will be useful to you. It’s only when things don’t go according to plan that you learn why that technique is one to avoid or why that particular brand of sports gel doesn’t work for you.

Your training is going to include more than just heading out to the gym or for a run, you’ll need to think about nutrition, so again planning ahead with a diet that supports your training needs is crucial. Consult the experts and meal plan for the week to make sure you’re not left staring at an empty cupboard in need of a post-workout boost.

Finally remember to rest. Your body will need time to recover.  Pushing past comfort is one thing but pushing yourself to exhaustion will seriously impair your performance.

Factor In Recovery

Alongside rest days you’ll need to consider other ways to help your body actively recover. Regular physiotherapy sessions will help iron out any recurring injuries, particularly if you visit a practitioner who is an expert in your sport.

Get some serious stretching in with Yoga or Pilates and swap your sport over to something different, like a weights session, to factor in some cross training.
If you’re still stiff and sore, invest in some foam rollers to get a deep massage for your problem areas. They’re a painful but cheap alternative to a sports massage.

However if you can get a regular massage in, your aching body will thank you for it.

Image courtesy of Pexels

The Big Day

As you get closer to event day it’s natural that you’ll have butterflies in your stomach and an increasing feeling of fear. You may even wish you’d never signed that form in the first place. This is the moment to take a few deep breaths and put your faith in all the training you’ve done. You may not feel ready but your body has been conditioned to go the distance, the speed or the heights so trust in your form.

Before the big day, make sure to re-read the event pack and have a plan of how you’re going to arrive, taking with you any equipment you need. Figure out how public transport might work, if there are any shuttle transfers for competitors and where to leave your kit bag to pick up afterwards.

Then it’s time to pack that kit bag. Your training will have provided you with a good idea of what you need to feel better after a tough session. If you need protein bars, sports shakes or a banana, make sure it’s all ready for you. Don’t leave packing till the morning.

It’s always a good idea to lay out your sports kit the night before, including your earphones and any race number you might need and have your phone charged ready.. If you’re carrying any extra water or snacks, be sure to load up your sports belt.

Have a quiet night, read a book, browse some blogs and get plenty of rest. Follow your nutritionist’s advice on what to eat and try and relax.

And you’re all set. It may be terrifying, it may be like nothing you’ve ever experienced before in your life but if you’re willing to push yourself to the limit and be one of the few who are willing to put themselves out there, you’ll never regret taking on that challenge.
Make sure you’re prepared, that you have everything you need to complete your training and sign up the support of friends and family to get you through those tough miles.

Use your mental strength to push you through the hard times and make it to the end for your glorious finish. You never know, you might enjoy it so much you sign up for the next one. Or perhaps not.

*This is a collaborative post*


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