The progress we all make through our training is, by and large, measurable. We can see improvements in pace over certain distances, more watts held for a longer period or just the ability to to go for longer.
All of these measurements have one thing in common, they are all measurements of physical progress, and whilst this is very important in training, how do you measure mental progression?
The mental side of sport has over the last few years become a high profile topic, just ask around loads of people have read Steve Peters’ book The Chimp Paradox, and even more have heard of Dr Peters. Who would of thought a psychologist would be so famous!
Back to the question, how do you measure mental progress, I have been thinking about this a fair amount recently and to be honest I don’t know the answer, however I do have some thoughts on it.
Firstly, confidence, if you are now feeling more confident towards a certain aspect of your sport which previously caused you anxiety, then to me that is progress. For example, I know I am far more confident in my swimming than I was, so that must be progress, even though I still have self-doubt when thinking about it. Things always seem easier when you are confident, just think back to the first time you ran or cycled a certain distance, it would have seemed a challenge but as time moves on you now know you can achieve this, and so it seems esker.
Visualisation, is your visualisation becoming more reflective of your actual performance? If it is then you must be improving, as you are now aligning your mental progress to the physical.
Belief, for me this is the big one. Do you believe you will achieve? I get plenty of people telling me you will achieve this or that, but they don’t know the internal struggle I go through in training. Yes, I really appreciate their support but sometimes I find this just applies more pressure to succeed as nobody expects anything less than completion. For me, I need to believe, trust in my ability, trust that I know what I am capable of, and then do it.
This year, I have worked on being mentally positive, the mind is a super powerful thing and needs to be used for good as it has the ability to overpower the physical and drive you on. I know that when I feel tired it doesn’t mean I need to stop, it just means I need to push that little bit harder as the point I need to stop isn’t the first sign of difficulty.
I know everyone is different and will view how to measure mental progression differently but I think there is one thing we can all agree on, and that is it is mind over matter and as someone once said “go hard or go home”.