How often have you heard a professional/expert talk about being present when training? To maximise the benefits from training being present and in the moment is key. Practising this skill also will aid you on race day. I’m going to use swim, bike and run in my examples as I unpack what being present means, but this skill set is not just limited to swim/bike/run.
How To Practice Being In The Moment
If the skill of being present is new to you, start by practicing while walking. Pay full attention to the experience, focus on the sensations you feel. What the difference small and large movements have while you walk, can you feel the wind? Is it cold or hot? Notice the objects you pass.. the list goes on. This exercise helps you to engage with what is happening right now in the present. Being aware of what you are doing and what is happening around you, but not in the future or past. There’s no right or wrong, it’s just a matter of being open and listening to what is happening.
Think about it as being curious about what is happening in the moment. Once you learn to listen and be in in the ‘now’ it allows you to get the maximum benefits from training.
Being in the moment allows you to:
- Hold the best form that you are capable of.
- Better practice, as training, is all about improving motor patterns.
Getting The Best Out Of Being In The Moment
Once you’ve mastered listening and being aware of what is happening, then it’s time to check in with yourself. Is what I’m doing now, good? Could I improve it? What may that be? If not, how can I get the most out of this situation? Examples include holding ideal form in a drill, being precise with your swim catch (am I dropping my elbow?), or lifting your knees (am I over-striding?) during a run.
Being aware of what you are doing is a very effective way to become more efficient. Pick an area to focus on, and pay attention to what is happening. Don’t get frustrated if your mind wanders, just relax and remind yourself what your goal for the training or race is. Then refocus on the specific element you are trying to work on.
Breathing should be part of the technique section, but I’ve given it a little subsection as it is important. Being aware of your breathing is critical for any performance. We need not think about how to breathe, it just happens. By listening and paying attention to what your breath is doing it helps to understand the effort you are putting out. You can also control your breathing, but this is something that is much easier done by detecting the early warnings that you are shortening your inhalations. Check out another blog about breathing and improving preformance.
Try not to be time focused, trying to squeeze a session into a particular time slot. Quality often trumps quantity, so let go of your ‘to do’ list and focus on the current task at hand. Instead of fighting to get your session ‘done’, you can focus on ‘doing’ the session. It’s all about keeping things simple and just focusing on what you have to do right now in the moment.
It is next to impossible to stay focused in the ‘now’ for all your training and/or racing, but the more percentage of time spent in the present, the better quality you can achieve. Sometimes we are too concerned with the goal or destination, that we forget to enjoy and embrace the journey.