Yesterday in the ‘Personal Best’ post I mentioned the strategy I used to get my best score. What I thought I would do then is explain the mind set, self talk, intentions, performance targets options and some of the training that made up the preparation and deliver of the strategy.
This is not to make it sound all to formal, but I will try and offer a full and comprehensive account of what the influencing forces and factors were to this improvement. It is not isolated to ergo testing, as it does relate to on water testing also. The only factor not utilised is the added pressure and incentive of competitors. The way this will be written may at time confuse due to my ability to express the inner an out aspects of the experience. I also enjoy attempting to express the subjective elements with a bit of creativity. It may or may not work, but it is what’s in my mind.
This expression of the preparation and strategy was not linear, but to present it here I will have too put it into a sequence. What’s important to keep in mind is that it is a cyclic process and wave like with every element playing and active part in the outcome. It’s a randomly chaotic and shifting transference of contextual relationships that’s only realised and glimpsed moment to moment. Now that was a mouth full and probably a little excessive, but in my attempts to articulate the experience I wish to find the words that best approximate what occurs. I can sense the balancing act that is constantly at play not only on the ergo, but always.
The order does not follow a set pattern from what I can see, it was random as my attention and focus skipped and morphed from element to element in a way that was blurrier that distinct separation. A dynamic palate of choices is a thought that comes to mind. The randomness was driven by an intuitive sense of best fit and need in each moment. I will start with each element that was involved in the performance.
Mind Set – Internal Foundation
What I tried to do here was to create a build up of anticipation by setting my goal well in advance. The nature of the goal was to be realistic, but challenging enough to sharpen my focus. This enable my mind set to gather strength and as the day came around I found that my focus was clear and unified. This was most noticeable prior to starting the test, when during the final moment building up to the start I could feel the power of the mind set that I had accessed and it was a clear, direct and purposeful presence.
Self Talk – Internal Dialogue
If there is going to be that chatter in the mind I figure learning how to harness it is critical. Making a decision to be aware of the chatter in important and understanding how to make constructive is key to success. The focus here was the every time I sense the chatter growing in volume I would first identity if it was positive or negative. This first step enabled me to see it first with out feeling any need to do anything with it. The reason for identifying is that I believe self-talk needs to be balanced to ensure optimal performance. That way it becomes constructive which is more appropriate in each moment. The example I will use here is after about 1500m I was feeling great with the stroke rate on 27 and the split on 1min 33sec per 500m and I noticed that I was all excited about the score and the sensation of acceleration and ease.
Intentions – Internal Force
This is the piercing thread that binds the fabrics together. Stitching the foundation to the dialogue and performance measures and indicators requires a bond that will hold up. The fabrics being the mind set and the self talk that with out clarity of pure intentional focus, awareness and presence it is like a poorly seemed item of clothing. With a certain amount of wear, tear and stress it will begin to show sign’s of fatigue, age and inability to stand up to testing. Intention gives life to each moment with a surge of electric current that by way of a pulsing, surging and continuous source of energetic vibrance is laser power. It’s the internal unifier and aligner that drive performance. A great question to ask is where does intention come from?
Just to take a moment here to draw breath and reflect, I want to consider that with out being elusive and fuzzy, it’s important for me to state the way I am writing this is some what confusing and may come across as slightly inconsistent. What I want to articulate is the inner world of the experience and how it relates to the out world of performance. By using the ergo test performance as an opportunity to contrast I hope that it shows in some way how extreme the worlds can be and yet one in the same. I know it may sound somewhat cryptic, but it is the only way that I can get it out.
Performance Targets – External Indicators & Motivators
This is something I am a big fan of because it gives real focus during an intense activity. Prior to the test I considered what would be tactic for me to use. Go out fast early or be stead and try to bring home are the most obvious ones, but being creative is something that I enjoy. The plan for me would be to start the ergo comfortably with a focus of feeling what rate would be suitable and seeing what split would come. The overall plan was to go through 2km under 6.20min and then work the middle 2km to hold the margin that I had made in first 2km. This would mean having a slight buffer going into last 2km where it becomes a test of will to not let the splits blow out. I figure if I could do about 1.36min for the first 500m I would be happy and with the idea of feeling my way into it that score would set things up nicely. Well the first split was 1.34 and rate was 27. This felt quiet comfortable and I was a little surprised at the flowing sensation I had. I wanted to improve my splits for that point which I was conscious that if I did a pretty low split to begin with would mean only small improvements. After 1000m had was still sitting on 1.32/33 and rating 28 and was feeling great about the start I had made. Not wanting to get carried away I made sure I settled into a rhythm that would serve me well to the 2km mark where I planned to go through under 6.20min as I said before. Well 2km came up and I went through in 6.15/16 and straight away I was satisfied I had given myself every chance of doing my best. The next 1km was pretty straight forward as I let the scores back out to 1.35 while trying to keep the lightness of the movement through the front turn. After halfway the games started to play out in my mind. The slits where becoming more difficult to maintain and I noticed my mind wander a few times and the idea of how much further began to filter in and an uneasy sense of fatigue was nipping at my heels like a little dog. It would go away and with every stroke I found the easy flowing movement I had established was beginning to be tested. The plan was to stay under the 1.35 average split per 500m until 4km and with the first 2km margin I was finding the going a little tough. As the 4km mark passed I almost breathed a sigh of relief, well not quiet a sigh, but rather a huge gasp of air, which was like an injection of energy. The surge was wonderful and my mind began to clear. The first 2km was 6.16 and the second was 6.23 and that meant that if I could get the pacing right over the last 2km I would have enough to kick home. I like to play on the ergo and so I put in a few surges to test where I could get the score down to and then I would let it out again to recover. Being able get the score down made me realise that although I felt like I would burst I still had some capacity to build it home. The last 2km was 6.19min and I did it a bit like a yo yo. With each surge I would let it out again and then give myself a few hundred meter to clear my head and then kick again. Certainly the performance targets for each 2km gave me a great focal point during the test.
One thing I have not mentioned here was the added bonus of doing the test beside another rower and having my coach in the room. Having another person going through what your going through is comforting in a strange way and the company was very useful. As for my coach well it is very helpful at times when he makes a comment as a reminder. So you have another external influence challenging and supporting the process of performance. The subtle companionship and comparison in another athlete and guidance and stimulation from a coach at discreet moments to spur you on can be important elements in improving performance.