Open Mindset

5 Mindful Habits That Will Enhance Your Physical Performance

With The Open right around the corner it is inevitable that you are experiencing some degree of heightened excitement. For some athletes, this can turn into irritability, emotional sensitivity, and even difficulty sleeping. These are undoubtedly symptoms of the incredible stress athletes put upon themselves to perform during the test that determines whether all of your effort, time, pain, and sacrifice will pay off. Each year we see athletes destroy training and achieve levels of physical fitness we didn’t think were even possible. However, due to the stress of The Open they perform to only a fraction of their physical abilities.

It is no secret that the lifestyle of preparation we preach is all about the things you can control. Rather than thinking about how well the hundreds of thousands of other athletes are doing, you must focus inward. Here are 5 things that you can do to ensure that you are confident and mentally prepared for whatever The Open throws at you this year.

1.  Be Present! 

There is a term for the confused, unsettled, insecure thoughts people have all the time. It is called the “Monkey Mind”. I would argue that CrossFit athletes take this to a whole new level, the “Silverback Mind”. Spending time alone, quitely bringing focus to only your breath can develop mental tools to be in control when it matters most. Daily mindfulness or meditation goes well beyond a mental state. Physiological changes occur that can give you the type of control that can be used during the most stressful and challenging moments of The Open. This can make you a very dangerous athlete.

Here is a simple mindfulness practice:

  1. Find a quiet place where you can be alone
  2. Establish a comfortable position that will allow you to take full, deep breaths. This can be sitting, standing, or lying.
  3. Focus your attention completely on your breath. It helps to have your mind follow your breath all the way in to your diaphragm and then all the way out as you exhale.
  4. As thoughts enter your mind, do not react or become frustrated. It is normal for even the most practiced meditators. Just refocus on your breath and allow your thoughts to be exhaled away. Looking for more information and resources on mindfulness? My favorite author is Thich Nhat Hanh.

2. Affirmations

Many of you might not be old enough to remember the 90’s Saturday Night Live skit, “Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley”. While it was highly comical, research has shown that daily affirmations can have a powerful influence on success rates. This isn’t about just saying things and wishing they happen. Nor is it about convincing others you are something you are not. Too often we have not convinced ourselves that we have what it takes to achieve success. Verbalizing and writing out your strengths and positive qualities can help reinforce your purpose for doing what you are doing and remind you what makes you who you are. Have you been on the verge of regionals for the past couple of years? Tell yourself “I am a regionals athlete” and you will act accordingly.

Here are a few steps than can help you with your affirmations:
Step 1: List 3 Qualities you believe are your strengths

I am…._________________________________________________

I am …._________________________________________________

I am ….._________________________________________________

Step 2: List 3 Things you have done to prepare to achieve your goals

I have prepared by…._________________________________________________

I have prepared by…._________________________________________________

I have prepared by…._________________________________________________

Step 3: Write your affirmation statement

I am …._________________________________________________

3. Visualization and Practice 

Visualize yourself having success in the Open Workouts. Imagine 18.1 is announced and you take a deep breath, tell yourself that you are really fit, good at the movements, and are going to crush the workout. This is a great exercise that can set you up to expect success. You can also use the Blog to practice this on regular training days. When you go on and check the posting at 9pm Eastern, pretend that it is Thursday night and Dave Castro just announced the met-con for that day. Now set your training day up as though it is the day that you will do The Open workout.

Sample Visualization Technique:

Prior to going to bed the night before:
1.  Set the Mood – Make sure you are in a calm, comfortable, relaxed state
2. Pre Game – See yourself waking up the following morning and going through your morning routine. Be as detailed as possible without creating any stress. See yourself going to the gym, and performing your pre workout rituals. Envision who will be there, what music might be playing, etc.
3. Movement Prep – Now focus on the movements. If the workout has Thrusters think back to a time in training where you did a similar workout or set of thrusters. Think about the things that you did during that training piece that resulted in success. See yourself bouncing out of the bottom of the squat, extending your hips, and finishing the rep smoothly.
4. Gametime– Now you are ready to visualize yourself performing the workout. Make sure you have goals for the workout and then visualize yourself achieving that goal rep by rep, round by round.

4. Goal Board

The majority of the people who visit this blog have set high goals for themselves.  Many of you have also had a bad day or encountered challenges that have caused you to change those goals or at least contemplate whether or not they are the right goals. It is important that your goals are written down so they can withstand these types of moments.  Writing them down can make them feel even more real. Furthermore, putting them in a public place can insert some accountability from your support network. Write down 3-5 goals that you will die to achieve and post them in a place that is visible to you every day. Think “I will let nothing stand in the way of BLANK” or “I will do everything in my power to achieve BLANK”. Be hungry to achieve these goals like you are hungry for food each day. Many of you have already done this for the year, but don’t be afraid to do this on a weekly or even daily basis.

Remember these goals must be:
1. Specific
2. Realistic/Attainable
3. Measurable

5. Reflect

Check in on yourself every day at the end of the day. Ask yourself if you did all of the above things to the absolute best of your ability. Journaling is a great way to keep track of this and hold yourself accountable. It is important to understand that if your goals are truly important to you, nothing will get in the way of doing these things. If something comes up that prevents you from doing these things do not stress, and do not make excuses. Rather, immediately re-commit to doing them and do not let it happen again.

Some things to remember when journaling:

1. Be honest – what you are writing needs to reflect how you are truly feeling. No excuses.
2. Be specific – spare no details. The more you have to look back on the more effective it will be.
3. Be positive – come to a positive resolution. Even if you had a shitty day, write something you can do to fix it and make it positive the following day.

You all spend a ridiculous amount of time and energy on maximizing your physical performance. Making a habit of the above can help ensure that your mind is contributing to your performance rather than holding you back. Best of luck!