Week 2: Growing Through Challenges

Mental Performance

Courage to Fail

In the 10,000m race at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Billy Mills (Oglala Lakota (Sioux), Pine Ridge Reserve, SD) was in the bronze medal position with less than 100m to go. Instead of being content, he made a remarkable final push to pass both runners in front of him and win the gold medal.

Watch the video here.

This final push, had it not worked, could have cost him an Olympic medal. Mills knew that he had support from his community, which gave him the courage to risk failing. It was this courage that allowed him to achieve his dream.  Lots of moments in our lives, either big or small, can require courage. What courageous thing are you going to do today?


You May Have Gotten Knocked Down…But You Will Get Back Up Again!

While testing protocols and required isolation periods are still in place, you may find your ability to train and compete being impacted yet again. Hey!  You have been here before.  You have already learned so much about you and how you work.  This time, let’s take advantage of all you have learned when knocked down so when it is time to get to work, you are able to get back up again!

Following your modified and personalized sports nutrition plan will continue to positively impact performance, reduce fatigue, and limits risk for injury and illness. Managing and matching changes in your training load through balanced nutrition and sleep practices are essential to being prepared to head back to the level of training and the demands of competition that are just around the corner.  During your isolation or down time, you can retrain and reframe your mindset around fueling.  Your goal is to focus on maintaining physical and mental health and work with your support team (coach, trainers, sports dietitian, and mental performance trainer) to individualize guidelines specific to your current needs.

Quick Tips:

  • Create and stick to a well-defined schedule while confined to your home
    • Set your new wake and sleep schedule
    • Set a modified yet balanced meal and snack times
    • Plan what meals and snacks you will need for the week, create a shopping list, order groceries, or have someone shop for you, prepare a few meals and snacks in advance, label containers with date and meal
    • Your grocery list may include more non-perishables should you be in isolation longer than your next grocery shop
    • Stay socially connected with teammates, friends, family etc.
    • Commit to your modified but scheduled workouts
    • Be purposeful with mindfulness such as journaling (pen to paper or type away!)
    • Consider mindful eating tips – B.L.A.S.T
      • Ask yourself if you are hungry or are you needing to deal how you are feeling?  Feelings give you information.  You have to decide how you want to handle that information.
        • Bored
        • Lonely
        • Anxious/Angry
        • Sad
        • Tired

Here are some tips and resources to eating well during self-quarantine in addition to a guide for cooking in isolation from what may already be in your pantry. These resources combined with a sturdy plan are a fantastic way to ensure you are meeting your energy and nutritional needs throughout any circumstances that may be keeping you away from your regular training program.

Soon enough life will get back to normal!  And you will now be an expert in knowing what you need when it comes to down-time or recovery from illness.

Hang in there.  You got this!

Physical Prep

Can you keep going all out in every single workout and keep progressing? Or all out at work or school and truly grow as a person?

Most of us know that the answer to that is no. Brad Stulberg – performance and sport science author – developed a simple equation were “stress + rest = growth”.  Without rest there is no growth as whatever stressor is applied without rest will burn someone out eventually, whether in the weight room, sport training, or other areas of life.

That being said, not all stress is created equal. Just like how the stress of a difficult exam is not the same as the stress of going out on a first date, different types of training stress will require differing amount of time to recover and will impact different systems of the body.

Sessions that are more explosive, requiring very fast movements but perhaps not the heaviest weights will tax your neuromuscular system more heavily. Heavy strength training will impact the muscular system, while high volume strength training will impact your hormonal (endocrine) system more substantially.

Reflect on your own training – what sessions really made you feel worn out the rest of the day, or the following day(s)? What sessions made you feel beat down, or sore? Which sessions were you able to shrug off and keep going about your day?

Now when you look ahead at your schedule, try to pinpoint the sessions you find the most taxing and create a plan for how you will help your recovery. Does it mean getting an extra hour of sleep or a nap? Eating more nutritious food? A massage or a hot bath? Find what works for you!

Matthew Lehmann, Team Canada Table Tennis