To train optimally for an Olympics, I had to be incredibly selfish. This statement may feel off-putting and astray from my normal “team, team, team” story, but for me, it is true.
Selfish: when we are truly going for big goals, we make trade-offs to help us get there and give us the best chance to succeed even though we may not be popular in the process.
When I made the decision to train for the Olympics, I made the decision to go for it no matter the outcome. Whether we qualified or not, whether I made the team or not, I would give my team and myself the best opportunity to succeed and I would be proud if I could accomplish that. This made every later decision easier, as I had already committed to this vision.
Some decisions are more significant that others, but even the seemingly trivial choice to make rice or protein-filled quinoa for dinner was influenced by my body’s needs during training. Most Fridays were spent resting and recovering from the week with a game or light entertainment to relax my brain from water polo, but also not overwork it. To go out on a Friday night was a conscious decision to have fun and “be normal” to escape from the pressures of training, but I knew I may be sluggish on Saturday. The important detail is these are all decisions with consequences and to be comfortable with these decisions, we must be conscious of what our minds and bodies need.
I passed on a lot of social events or hangouts because I was comfortable with my goals and aspirations. I didn’t need to attend a party that was not directly in line with my path, but now that my goals are different, I am more likely to go to that same party. ***Please enjoy life, whatever that means for YOU! Training for the Olympics is a unique event that I experienced as an adult***
How can we help ourselves streamline our energy towards a big goal?
- We can build a proactive routine. Diet, rest, and health were 3 key ingredients that allowed me to have good practices and continue to improve. So I deliberately built a routine for when and what I ate, when and how long I sleep, and when and how much I do physical therapy. FLEXIBILITY is important (if only for my mental health), as we always had to adjust during travel or competition.
- We can direct ourselves towards activities that give us motivation. Are you inspired by art, silence, music, nature, people? When we have big goals to aim for and a full calendar for your routine, keep it simple, fill your free time with things that you enjoy and do not drain you of mental energy. It is ok to say no to do things that are not on our list, be selfish.
- We can keep the people that give us energy close. Try to be conscious about the amount, type and frequency of energy you need from the people around you. Some days I need quiet rest on the couch with a friend, some days I need someone to listen, some days I need a distraction, and some days I need to be a good friend whatever that may mean on that day.
Whatever your specific strategy for success may be, implementing this strategy will give you confidence in the moment you need it most. The best gift you can give yourself (and your team) is the knowledge on game day that you have given yourself your best opportunity to do well on that day. It may not be a perfect day, but the conscious, consistent preparation got you here and now you can give it your best shot. If you can say you left it all in the pool, the field, the classroom, you will have improved on that day no matter the outcome and THAT is the mentality of someone who can handle the pressure of big goals and going for big accomplishments 🙂
Gold Medal Game evening with family!