Any athlete will understand that feeling or "high" that takes over when witnessing a huge accomplishment or event in their sport. Ex: The anchor leg of a relay catch opponents ahead of him/her, a basketball star gain a hot hand and dominate a game, a football player scoring the game sealing TD. Regardless of the sport, when experiencing these events, it creates this motivation and hormonal change that makes us want to get up and DO SOMETHING.
Now if you happen to play that particular sport, the popular responses are "I'm gonna get to work now" or "Next year starts NOW." With that comes the territory of setting enormous goals that the mind and/or body cannot achieve without time. And generally, the "high" that you ride, doesn't last even close to how long it takes to achieve said goal.
After a few years of working with all levels of athletes, here are some appropriate steps that I have noticed rings common among the successful ones.
Take your recovery seriously.
Its highlighted in every sport. Commercials, TV spots, ESPN, YouTube. Not the recovery, but the "day in, day out" "24/7" hard work that these world class athletes put in. We all understand this tenfold. But even more importantly what people don't see, is the time and effort they take to maintain, care, and pamper their "temple". As an athlete, your body is your tool. It is your money maker. It is your end all, be all. If you don't have your body at 100%, your output will likely be less than that as well. If you think that giving 100% effort in training followed by 50% in recovery is going to kick it, you are in for a long, painful road.
Think of it this way: You have a cow that makes you money by producing milk. You would make sure that cow had good pasture to graze, water to drink, and shelter to keep safe. Or that Ferrari in your garage. You wouldn't wash it with dish soap, fill it with diesel, or keep the tires flat, right? So why in the WORLD would you treat your own living body any less by discounting it? Eat well and give your body the physical treatment it deserves. Spare the expense elsewhere.
- Understand that (most of the time) more is not better.
Yep, we get it. Rich Froning works out 8x a day. Kobe Bryant takes 100+ shots prior to games. Being that both of these athletes are/were at the top of their sport, and you are not, you need to take that into consideration. Both of them started somewhere. And that somewhere begins with addressing the core movement mechanics that allows them to succeed everywhere else. I doubt Kobe is taking 100+ shots with shitty shooting mechanics, or Rich is pressing out all of his snatches. Just because you're doing more of something, doesn't necessarily mean you're doing better. For most of you, its likely that you're hurting yourself by overloading too many bad habits and movement mechanics.
Focus your intensity and efforts in improving the little things. Don't fall into the trap of doing more for the sake of volume. You don't need more. You need better. You need intensity. Mechanics, consistency, intensity.
- Get used to being uncomfortable.
As simple as it sounds, this is so hard for so many people. Its just human nature. We are creatures that do not enjoy doing things that make us feel uncomfortable or doing things that "hurt" or are "difficult". It's so easy to say, "Go to your dark place!" when in all honesty, 95% of us have really never been there. Going to that place is not simply a physical feeling. It is a mental choice. It is the fork in the road that you face where you make a conscious (and sometimes subconscious) decision to keep going when you really don't HAVE to (because let's be real, no one really wants to go there). Which leads us into our next point...
- Train your mind just as much as you train your body.
Your mind will fail, well before your body. I love talking about the mind because I believe that next to recovery, it is the most neglected piece in many sports. The mind must be trained the same way you train your body. You must put it through its paces, you must make it uncomfortable, you must challenge it. Because at the end of the day, the body only does what the mind tells it to do. So if you make the choice of slowing down, or stopping because someone else stopped, that becomes not a failure of physical ability, but lack of mental fortitude. And it doesn't end in training. It is an even bigger issue outside of that. Should you binge drink, eat badly, or sleep late? You totally can! Because its JUST "one drink" or "one meal" or "one long night". But then again, if a drug addict takes "just one hit", it creates habit. Don't underestimate the power of just one. Because that is all that it takes.
Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with any of those things (minus the drugs)! Anyone that knows me, knows that I preach balance. But balance requires mental fortitude, focus, and consistency. Be sure that you have acquired all of those things.
- Believe in yourself and the process, by setting different level goals.
Rome wasn't built in a day. We know this and yet we set one, large, over-reaching goal that eventually becomes weight on our chest instead of something to chase. Create different level goals: short term, medium, long, and dream goals. By properly prioritizing goals, you can create small realistic steps that lead to each successive goal in a different time category.
Your short term goals (anywhere from that particular workout/day to a few weeks down the line) allow you to see success during the daily grind. It keeps you on track. I would almost consider these more important than long term goals, simply for the boost it gives to athletes mentally.
Medium length goals give your short term goals a purpose and path. It gives you a why to your daily push.
Long term goals are achievable goals that may take time (think 9 months to multiple years), but with the right time and commitment can happen.
Dream goals are those goals are the ones that you deem as the pinnacle of your ventures. The dream goals allow you to set the others below it, and make them realistic and achievable. Dream goals are what drives the passion deep inside your heart.
I hope that you find these tips useful and applicable. Success is fleeting at times, but with the right steps and proper guidance, success can become daily, and can eventually become a HABIT. Good luck!