This topic is just as important as our last post on discipline and motivation. It is important to know when to push through the pain and laziness and when to stop before we do some real damage to our bodies! First off, we have to get in touch with our body so that we are aware of when to go for it and when to back off. I touched on this at the squad and I want to expand on what I mean and also fill in those skaters who missed out.
Paola Fraschini wrote an amazing piece on mindfulness. What I took from her article was that it is important to just be in the moment. Right now. The past is gone and the future you can’t help. Being in the moment will mean something different to everyone. For me, it is about taking the time to close my eyes, lay down and just breathe while I concentrate on moving around my body with my mind to relax every body part. For others, in times of stress, it is as simple as closing your eyes and taking a few breaths, attending a yoga class, walking outside, spending time with your pet and just really ground yourself in the moment. Some people may call this Meditation. But don’t be scared off by the name, meditation isn’t only for experts and it doesn’t have to mean you lay there for hours repeating “om” in your head. It is simply just about being. At the squad, I did this with the skaters by getting them to close their eyes, breathe and try focus on and answer the following few questions:
Worst performance: what happened before/during/after. Pick out details/feelings/rituals of the competition. Sigh and let it go.
Best performance: what happened before/during/after. Spend sometime reliving the glory. Pick out details/feelings/rituals of the competition. Sigh and let it go.
Come back to the present and think of what you want to achieve today. Think of some people who can help you achieve it. Think of some ways you can achieve it. After a few breaths, evaluate how you feel. How does your body feel, what is going through your mind? This is not about positive or negative feelings. It is not about stopping thinking altogether, it is just noticing that you’re having these thoughts and then watching them pass you by in your mind. I like this little ritual because it can be done anywhere at any time and it acknowledges the past (the good and the bad) and then you can move forward.
With mindfulness, comes self awareness. They can be roped into one but self I like to separate them. To me, self awareness is more about being in touch with how your body is feeling and operating physically and emotionally. Once you master this through mindful practise, you will realise instantly when something is off. You will learn to recognise the difference between an off day and something being seriously wrong in order to avoid injury.
When to stop
This is where the honesty comes in. Knowing the difference between muscular pain because you’re working hard and pain because you’re doing damage is important. The next step is to be honest with yourself and your coach. Don’t think that I’m telling you that just because you’re a little sore, you can tell your coach and they have to let you off. Be honest. when your body is telling you to stop, you have to stop.
Signs that mean you should probably stop:
- Dizziness/nausea at mild exertion
- Restrictive, painful feelings in joints that you can usually move through a bigger range of motion
- Feeling like your mind is foggy and you’re making mistakes even after a proper warm up and getting your heart rate up (you can sometimes wake right up if you push yourself through the first few minutes thanks to endorphins)
- Old injuries flaring due to stress
What does stopping mean?
When I say stop, it’s a matter of reassessing the situation. Take a step back and say ok I’m sore here when I do this. What do I do? If this is the case, stop doing the thing that hurts. Communicate this to your coach. Do something else instead. Stopping doesn’t necessarily mean you get to go home and skip training just because your wrist hurts when you twist it. You can still keep going but just avoid doing that certain movement. It’s about looking after your body and being true and honest with yourself.
That’s all I have to say for now on this topic for now. I will just leave you with this thought that always helps me decide whether I should stop or whether I’m just being lazy. Remember that goal/dream/mantra we had in the last mental training post? Is stopping right now going to help you achieve that? Are you going to go to bed knowing you did the absolute best you could today? Will you be satisfied?