Rest Day 1/12/14: Are you prepared to compete day in and day out?

Jimmy from the Loyola Men's Crew Team working his Shoulder Flexibility in the Overhead Squat over the holidays.

Jimmy from the Loyola Men’s Crew Team working his Shoulder Flexibility in the Overhead Squat over the holidays.

The first week of the Renegade Rowing Training Plan is in the books.  What days did you hit?  What blocks did you focus on?  How are you feeling?  I almost hit them all, but mid way through the week I got hit with a sinus cold, so I’m going to focus on getting healthy over the next couple of days.  I wanted to take today and let you know my thoughts on preparation and competition, two important parts of our training.  Let us know what you think in the comments!

Preparation and Competition

In general, each week of the Renegade Plan can be classified as either a preparation week or a competition week.  During a preparation week one fitness block and one rowing block will be introduced.  In the following competition microcycle those two blocks will be repeated and individuals will be expected to compete and try to better their performances from the preparation week.  In order to know if you’ve improved you must be recording your results after each workout.  Going into this week keep an eye out for workouts we did last week and see if you can push a little bit harder to improve your performance.

Preparation is the key to reaching peak performance.  To be prepared is to consistently have your thoughts, feelings, and bodily responses at the right state at the right time.  The consistency that is required to reach peak performance and compete day in and day out will never happen if practice and competition behaviors are left to chance.  By creating a systematic approach to how we think about, feel, and react to different situations we can reduce the fear of the unknown and the stress associated with it.  The goal of preparation is to create processes that we can employ daily, weekly, seasonally, yearly, in a warm-up, at practice, in a race, and after competition to improve our readiness to perform.

Abby getting after it at the Renegade Rowing League last Saturday!

Abby getting after it at the Renegade Rowing League!

Competition is the basis for all sport.  People play sports because they’re fun.  Sports are fun because every participant is given a chance to compete.  It’s not the outcome or the opponent that matters.  People enjoy competing because they’re given an opportunity to test themselves and their abilities in order to experience the thrill of an improvement toward a goal.  Competition can be both individual and team oriented.   By incorporating competition into everyday practice, Renegade Rowing allows us to track progress toward our goals, but more importantly to have fun and experience the journey.

In order to compete, athletes must develop mental toughness.  Firsthand athletes are developed through competition when they harness the power of the mind.  Our thoughts affect our feelings and our feelings affect our actions.  Anyone can develop an ability to do work with regards to fitness and rowing, but when work capacity is combined with mental toughness, athletes can control their actions and reach their goals.  Mental toughness is an athlete’s ability to commit to competition with a belief in oneself, to have a positive focus on the things they can control, and to embrace challenge as an opportunity for learning and self-improvement.

Renegade CompetitionWhile the thrill of intrinsic motivation should be what drives us, we should not forget about the power of the opponent or the teammate in competition.  We can push ourselves as individuals, but the opportunity to push ourselves against others will only make us better.  I’m a competitive guy and I like being pushed and challenged and testing my abilities against others.  There’s honesty in giving it all you have against others, especially knowing they’re doing the same.

Rowing is an Olympic Sport that elite athletes train for year round.  Some athletes may only compete 5 to 6 times per year and of those competitions they might only peak for one race.  Most other sports have seasons filled with games allowing for learning and development during competition.  Renegade Rowing incorporates daily competition so that athletes have the same opportunities that other sports have.  Renegade athletes will have the confidence needed to perform on race day.  By providing many opportunities to experience race day competition in practice, athletes will have a wealth of experiences to draw from when race day arrives.

Going into the coming weeks, focus on your preparation and go hard when it’s time to compete.  Record your results, reflect on what you can do better, and use those thoughts in your preparation for the next day of competition.

Get after it and have fun!

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