Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What are you doing for mental training?

Do you ever get pre-race jitters? Or blow the first control? You might want to supplement your physical training with some mental training. As part of my coaching with Brent (the national junior coach), we’ve been working on mental training and relaxation. (Brent, I hope I’m not sharing our top secret training strategies!) This type of training, like any other, requires lots of practice and progresses through several steps. I’ll outline these steps if any of you want to give it a try!

First, pick a quiet place and sit in a chair. It can be done lying down, but it’s better to have your body in the same plane that it will be in before a race. Close your eyes and then start progressively clenching and releasing each muscle. Start with your feet, and then go to your calves, thighs, core, left arm, right arm, shoulders, neck, jaw, and forehead. Make sure you breathe out deeply through your mouth when you release your muscles. If you think it’d be helpful, you can repeat the cycle. Then take several deep breaths at the end and notice how relaxed your body feels. At this point, you can pick a key word (it can be anything like ‘beach’, ‘happy’, ‘warm’) and think about this keyword and connect it to this feeling.

After you’ve down this for a few weeks, the next step is to stop the physical clenching. Still go body part by body part, but focus on relaxing your muscles from their existing state. Like before, use your keyword at the end when you’re feeling relaxed. Remember your breathing!

The next step is to do total body breathing and relaxing, without going through the individual muscles. Still use your keyword after a few breaths. This is what I’m working on now (with varying degrees of success), so that’s as far as I can tell you what to do. Hopefully you’ll give it a try and find it helpful in both orienteering and non-orienteering situations!

Thanks for reading and happy training (both mental and physical)!

Practicing my mental training at home


  1. Sounds like great training. Thanks for sharing Emily!

  2. ;-) Great! Enjoyed that a lot. Good to have the reminder about the mental training side. But Emily aren't you supposed to be in a chair? (see first line in second paragraph above ;-)

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