Week 4: Train Your Brain! The Power of Mantra

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Don’t just “Tri” Harder, “Tri” Healthier

 

We’ve all heard the phrase, “the power of positive thinking,” and research is now showing that what happens in your head can have a very real impact on the triathlon course.

In a recent study, participants were given different sayings to repeat regularly while they worked out.*   Those that were given the positive phrases to repeat silently were able to push through fatigue and keep going. To be most effective, the phrases needed to be consistently positive and systematically repeated.  This means that developing positive self-talk needs to become an ingrained habit before the moment of physical or mental fatigue comes along.  You’ve probably heard the phrase “muscle, memory, reflex” to describe training your muscle’s movement pattern. Your brain works in a similar fashion, making it just as important to train your brain to focus on the positive when you start to get tired mentally and physically.

In yoga, mantras are words or phrases with meaning that are chanted out loud or repeated silently. The use of mantras can serve to focus or relax your mind.  Another way that mantra supports endurance athletes is through the benefits of repetition. In her most recent book, Racing Wisely, Sage Rountree, an internationally recognized authority in yoga for athletes and an endurance sports coach specializing in athletic recovery and mindful racing, explains, “Mantra keeps you mindful by centering you on a word, phrase, or lines you repeat to yourself. These could be something short, like form and breath, or fast and smooth, or something long, like the chorus to a song. Your mantra will coordinate with your footfalls or your pedal or swim strokes. Repeating it helps you shut out the stimulation you’re getting externally from your senses and internally from the chattering mind. Mantra helps you focus on repetition itself—and that, at its core, is what endurance sports are. We repeat an action over and over and over as we move through space and to the finish.”

Developing the habit of repeating a positive word or phrase can help you push through a difficult part of your training and could make a difference in your performance on July 12th.  To find your Cohasset Junior Tri mantra, find a comfortable place to sit and close your eyes. Visualize yourself swimming, biking and running with ease and speed.  Pick a phrase that describes how you feel in this moment when you are performing at your very best and repeat it silently.  Examples of sports performance mantras could include:  I am fast, I am powerful, I am fierce, I am strong or I feel great.  Try a few out over the next few days to find one that works best for you.  Warm up, pace yourself, be safe, have fun!

Deb Bowen is a teacher at Balance Studio. Her class Be A Balanced Athlete: Yoga for athletic girls is offered with support from ivivva

July 9th- August 13th. Wednesdays 4-5 pm / Register for class

Deb also teaches Yoga for Athletes on Mondays @ 6:15pm

Gearing up for the Cohasset Triathlon or Cohasset junior Triathlon

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Don’t just “Tri’ Harder, “Tri” Healthier

Week 3: Hip to It: Sequence for Cyclers
You may have already started training for the bike portion of the Cohasset Junior Triathlon, but if not, it’s time to hit the road. Biking is a great way to build cardiovascular fitness as well as muscular strength.  You can control the intensity of the ride by pedaling slower or faster and if you have gears on your bike, you can create your own interval workout, making it harder or easier with a few shifts of your gears. Although all of that riding is great for your heart, lungs and muscle strength, the crouched over position of biking can create tight hip flexors, shoulders and low back.  Healthy hips require a balance of strength and flexibility to support the mobility of the lower body and the stability of the upper body.  Think of your hips like a pot full of soil, your spine is the plant and your legs are the roots. If your hips aren’t balanced then what is coming down from them and reaching up out of them won’t be either.

Use the warm up video from Week 2 before you head out for a ride but add these hip stretches to your weekly exercise to create some flexibility in your hips. Warm up, pace yourself, be safe, have fun!

Attention Runners: Here’s Why Yoga Can Be Great Pre-Marathon!

Balanced Athlete: Mondays 6:15-7:15pm with Deb Bowen

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Although the weather hasn’t felt much like spring yet, the sun is shining a little brighter and a little longer. This is a good indication here in Boston that the marathon is just around the corner. With just a little over one month before the big day, this year’s marathon promises to be a special one given last year’s tragedy. Our city will shine, and “we will finish the race!”

Yoga can be a terrific tool for long distance runners, especially as they head into the final month of preparation. Stephen Allison, a teacher at Health Yoga Life, Advantage trainer, and five-time Marathon finisher himself, explains below:

  • More runners should incorporate a weekly yoga practice into their regimen. Yoga increases flexibility and adds strength without adding size. It will help you recover faster and will prevent injuries. You’ll be amazed by the things your body will learn in a short time.
  • If you run enough, you will get injured. That’s just a fact. You can train smart, and take all the precautions, but eventually a pothole will find you, or you’ll get stuck in a car seat after running long. Your hips will be sore or your Achilles will ache. Yoga will not fix everything, but it will make you less susceptible to injury and quicker to return.
  • You don’t see too many 60 and 70 year olds running, but you do see people that age with thriving yoga practices.
  • The perfect time to increase your yoga is during your taper. You take the last few weeks before the big race lightly. Add a few (light) yoga classes. Your body will remain stimulated without taking anything away from your race day effort.
  • Your body is designed to run. Your body is also designed to move through the poses in a yoga practice. Yoga is thousands of years old. If a pose were detrimental to your movement it would have been marginalized already. The more ease your body can move through a yoga practice, the more ease you will experience when you run.

If you are newer to yoga, I would caution not to overstrain and don’t try to do all the poses in a typical yoga class. Make sure to introduce yourself to the teacher and explain that you are new, that you are a runner and what is a good way to take some precautions during your first few classes.

Yoga can also help you find ease from the anticipation and tension prior to race day. You have prepared long for the moment of stepping over the start-line and you want to get to the finish line. Being able to reduce your own expectation of how it all should go, or your own judgments after the race, can you help you actually enjoy and relish in the experience.

And this year, Marathon Monday isn’t just Boston’s day. The world will be watching. The cheering crowd no longer is just lining heartbreak hill, it’s extending from “sea to shining sea.”

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