sochi-2014-logo-4Anyone following the Olympics? I’m catching highlights here and there. Really wish I was watching more, but phew by the time the kids are down, fed animals, picked-up the house and prepped for the next day, I’m wiped out. However, the little bits I see reminds me of the dedication they put forward for 4 years for this one shot to be named the best of the best.

Four years is a LONG time to train! So how do they stay motivated to keep it up day after day? How do they stay that focused? Well, unfortunately I haven’t been able to carve time out to fly to Sochi to interview any of the Olympians. So, I did the next best thing…I found an article in the Atlantic that discusses this topic.  Please, feel free to read the article.  And remember, all of us can use these tips to improve our personal best.  I’ll just summarize the meat of it here and show you how “The Rest of Us” (from now on known as TRU) can apply these tips.

1. Talk Yourself Through Stress 

Olympians: Many of the Olympians do a lot of self talk and encourage themselves to push though.

TRU: Do the same!  Be your own motivator.  Getting tired?  Push yourself to do one more rep/set/lap.  And don’t forget to reward yourself (preferably not with a cheeseburger) when you pushed through and accomplished your goal(s).

2. Love-or at least accept-the grind

Olympians: Yes, they all look pretty cool standing on the podium wearing their gold, silver or bronze medal.  However, the training that got them there was anything but glamorous.  Day in and day out, train, train , train.  A lot of them are training before and after school and their little bit of free time is for school work.  But the successful athletes learned to love or at least embrace each and every training session.

TRU: Getting ready for a 5K/Half/Full marathon?  Embrace each and every training session.  Thank your body for being strong enough to get through each workout.  Remind yourself how awesome you will feel after a solid training session.  Get excited to be working toward your goal.

3. Be optimistic

Olympians: When they approach things from a negative stance their performance suffers.  Furthermore, the athletes with a positive outlook tend to be more resilient and bounce back from defeat better.

TRU: I just saw this posted on FB and it seems fitting for this post…”A bad attitude is like a flat tire, you can’t go anywhere until you change it.” Keep it positive.  It’s a given that on any journey there will be set backs…so take it in stride and keep on smiling.  You’ll improve your chances for success!

4. Anticipate things before they occur  

Olympians: A small section of the brain, the insular cortex, when fine tuned, allows the athlete to anticipate upcoming pressures and how to adapt to it quickly.

TRU: Challenge yourself!  If you don’t set that bar a little higher each time, how can you expect to be prepared for the main event!?   Step up to the plate and work that insular cortex!

5. Stick with a coach who’s more like South, not North, Korea

Olympians: Per the article, “In a 2000 study, Division I athletes were shown to be more motivated when the coaches were neither too easygoing nor hard-charging—they reinforced consistently, but with a democratic style of instruction”.

TRU: It’s all about the feedback!  Find that trainer/friend/workout buddy that keeps you accountable, pushes you higher, but gives you an understanding of what they are seeing that could help you improve.  And most importantly, be receptive to the feedback. You can’t improve if you don’t know what areas you need improvement in.

6. Try mindfulness

Olympians: According to the article mindfulness is “the non-judgmental focus of attention on an experience as it occurs”.  Researchers believe this is what gives athletes their flow.  They are completely immersed in the event and feel like they have complete control.

TRU: Get focused!  Find the music that gets you in the zone, mentally focus on the outcome you want, visualize your success, and own it!

7. Think about your next big event

Olympians: Practices are a means to an end for many of the athletes.  They, like anyone else, have good and bad days.  When athletes have those bad days and want to throw in the towel (yep, sometimes it’s one of those days), they remind themselves that the training is the means to winning the competition.

TRU: Make yourself accountable! A friend of mine does marathons and triathlons because it is what keeps her accountable to her workouts.  She feels that if she didn’t sign up for an event, she would not workout.  For some, knowing they are committed to an event, is what keeps them on their fitness/nutrition regime.

As you can see, whether you are an Olympic athlete or not, the principles can be applied to all of us.  Use these tips to up your game, get ready for your next marathon or to just get you to start.  I just signed up for a 3.1 mile obstacle course a month from now.  I’m very excited to up my workouts!  Here’s to motivation!!!


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