Last weekend at Challenge Barcellona was Michelle Mitchells third ever professional race and we have been working together for about 11 weeks.
I love this photo below as it sums up the elation of winning but even more important to that is the feeling of near perfect execution of the race itself (I will discuss execution in another post). But this so could have very easily become a disappointing result becuase of one little incident a couple of days before the race where as a coach I had to go into ‘damage control’ mode but be very succinct about it.
Now most atlhletes will go out and get a massage in race week… even ones that have not been getting massaged regularly. Personally if you have not been getting massaged at least weekly in the lead up to your race, I’d be staying clear of that during race week as this would be a completely new stimulus on the body.
Don’t get me wrong, massage is SUPER beneficial, but only if you have been getting them consistently and if you cannot afford to do that then I’d be making sure you do some daily self myfoascial release with tools that are intended to do the job.
Even IF you have been getting massaged regularly you still need to be careful in your race week massage. Your last massage should be a couple of days before the race, unless you have been getting massaged daily (not realistic for most athletes). It is VERY important that you are very clear to the massage or physical therapist to go light.
This is NOT the time for a deep tissue massage as it will not only make you sore, but it will tax your muscles leaving you flat on race day. The idea of massage in race week and especially as the race draws closer is to stimulate the muscles tissue by keep it nice and loose, removing waste products and ensuring good blow flow and oxygen to the tissue. It is not the time to annihilate your muscles with a heavy handed massage.
And the BIGGEST thing you need to protect in race week and especially when people are doing body work on you is your MIND.
Some… stupid and not thoughtful people can use throw away comments that can comletely destroy your mindeset. A little ‘negative’ seed planted in the days before the race can germinate and eat away at your confidence completely throwing your race. Your mental space needs to be completely guarded.
In Barcelona, Michelle got a massage and I had mentioned to her to tell the therapist to go light… No problem. BUT…
The therapist with no brain whatso ever goes on to tell Michelle that there is this big knot in your hamstring and it is so so tight that if you do not fix you will not finsih the race!
Yep awseome… Not.
Without daily work on developing a strong mindset it is very easy to be completely derailed by some unthoughtful persons throw away comment. In race week, athletes minds are fragile enough without have highly negative comments given to them.
This one comment could have eaten away at Michelle and put doubts into her mind that the ‘problem’ becomes so big (in our minds), that our potential that day becomes severly limited.
My repsonse to Michelle may sound a little harsh but it is not. There was no time to go into a long speil. We just needed to get the mindset back on track, otherwise the goals of the race would be out the window before the first swim stroke was taken.
“Thats why I don’t like getting massage by random people that say shit they shouldnt say. It pisses me off. Let me tell you a secret. Every athlete is freaking tight. And has knots.
You have been going a long just fine. And you will rock it.
Enough said, now get your head back in the game.”
As I said, short and succinct and Michelle kept her head in the game… did she have to deal with challenges and demons on race day, you betcha… but you don’t become a champion after you win the race.
You have to be a champion in your mind first.
A result of 9:15 and a 3:03 marathon makes you question what that therapist knows about muscle tissue and the human potential….
So make sure you protect your mind… it’s your greatest assest and an area of untapped potential. Just like we train our body’s in the physical, we need to train our brains in the mental.
One of the best resources on this is The new psycho-cybernetics by Dr Maxwell Maltz
Again, a huge congratulations to Michelle for a stella job and winning your first Iron distance title.