One of the major factors in the level of your performance is stress.
Ask yourself when was the last time you had a really stressful day, when did you last feel as if you were being crushed, as if the weight of the world was bearing down on you. How often do you feel overwhelmed by how much you have on your plate with very little time in which to do it; that you have too much going on with no end in sight?
During this time, how well did you train, or did you even train at all? Many people will admit that they didn’t train at all, or that they trained poorly. However, some will acknowledge how they felt and turn it into renewed motivation; changing a negative situation into a positive outcome. Those are the people who improve next time they test.
Not everyone has the capacity or willingness to turn stress into a positive motivator and, even if you can, it’s far better to attempt to reduce your stress levels as much as possible rather than continually pushing through it. You’ll be happier and you’ll live longer. You’ll never get rid of stress completely and, in some respects, it’s entirely necessary to function as a human being, but overall, reducing your stress levels will result in improved health.
Think about how you feel when you are training, then think about how you feel when you are very stressed. There are a lot of similarities in the way the body is behaving; elevated heart rate, loss of focus or presence, sweating, other mental aspects. Then think about what we want to achieve when you are not training – recovering. It’s simple, the more relaxed you are outside of training, the more focus your mind and body can give to recovering from said training.
Once you’ve successfully reduced stress to a manageable level, you can set to work on learning how to manage it. Like I mentioned above, you definitely do not want to rid yourself of stress. Stress will ensure you work hard in order to pay your bills. Stress will help you train harder to achieve your goals. Stress might help you lose weight. But stress will only do this, once you learn to manage it.
Meditation is one of the best methods to learning to manage stress. If you’ve never meditated before, try the Headspace or Calm app. It’s simply 10 minutes per day, and might change your life. It will teach you mindfulness and acceptance of your feelings and emotions.
I've been an advocate of meditation for many years now and regular meditate a couple of times a day. I recommend it to all my athletes and the ones who openly try meditation over a longer period are the ones who see the most significant improvements in both performance and overall wellbeing.
Many of my athletes comment that the 20' FTP test feels the same (it still sucks!), but they are more accepting of it and able to break through mental barriers and vastly improve their performance. All that for just 10 minutes per day...
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