Pre-Practice Routine – Gettin’ in the Mood

Ever find it difficult to get in the mood for a workout? You’re not alone. Even the most dedicated athlete needs help from time to time to get ready and get focused on the workout. That is where pre-practice routines come in. Much like a pre-race routine or in other sports a pre-shot routine; it is a technique to get you ready to perform. It gets you focused on the right things and helps you put away (at least for awhile) distractions. A pre-practice routine is a vital tool for athletes of all levels – from elite to the most novice first time runners. Though, it is unfortunately a poorly practiced technique in the everyday athlete.

How many of you think of your workout on the way home from work and think of all the things you could be doing instead?
How many of you let stress of a bad day, a yelling boss, an angry customer, or other occurrence to fester on your mind?
How many of you feel pressured by to-do lists as you weigh whether to do a workout?
How many let financial difficulties, relationship disruptions, and the like to prey upon your mind?
How many have child behavior issues (your children not you personally) that seem to suck the energy and time from you?

The list is endless. That is the nature of life. The issue to an athlete, fitness buff, or healthy lifestyle enthusiast (it doesn’t matter what label or what level you want to use) that you must carve out time for yourself. In spite of all that goes on in life finding the time – no – MAKING the time for ourselves can be a challenge.

The first step is to have a belief system that supports time for yourself. If you believe that it is selfish to do for yourself; and that instead you are supposed to “always” be there for kids, spouse, homework, work, others; then you will have an uphill battle. A facilitating belief is one that says “some time for me yields a better ME for others in my life.” If you do not have a facilitating belief you are going to have a very difficult time being consistent with your workouts. Someone elses needs will always trump your needs.

Once you establish that you are worth it you need to do things that enable you to get workouts done. That is where pre-practice routines come in.

Create a routine that begins your process of focusing on you and focusing on your workout.

How do you do it?
On the way home, right after getting up from bed in the morning, while getting dressed to workout or as you arrive at the track/canal/trail for your workout; take a moment to take a few deep breaths.

Look around and take in your surroundings. No judgments no real thoughts, just passively observe.

Clear your head. Let daily stressors pass through your head; but do not hang on to them. Do not replay the incident. Tell yourself to “let go.”

Now, give yourself permission for the next hour (or whatever) to be an athlete. Let go of all other hats you wear. You are now a runner, duathlete or triathlete. Take on the role. You are here to get in shape. You may review your overall goal (race time, fitness goal, etc.). Put the workout in perspective. It is one more piece in the puzzle which is your goal. Tell yourself that each day and each workout is one more piece. You are here now, for today’s piece of the puzzle.

Next, shift your focus to the workout at hand. What is the workout? How far? How fast? How many reps? Focus on the goal.

Rehearse your workout in your mind. See yourself doing it and completing it. Vividly get your mind and senses involved with “now.”

Become the athlete you are there to be.

By the way if you tend to be a worrier, or suffering from grief or other inner turmoil a pre-practice routine is a good technique. I tell runners something like this: “It’s OK to have all these feelings. But, for now – “park” those feelings and thoughts outside the track stadium. Do it just for this workout. Do it just for now. They’ll be here waiting for you later. And if you want, when you are done you can pick them up again and take them with you.”

And if you must have permission; I give you permission, just for today; to be the athlete you deserve to be.

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