My dog Shiloh is pretty amusing. He always seems to have an abundance of energy and enthusiasm. What he usually lacks though is attention. Hallmark qualities of a black lab. He’ll get so excited about one thing but if something else catches his eye then off he goes. The pattern usually continues though and in 5 more seconds he’ll be focused on yet something else.
You don’t want your training attention span to be as short as Shiloh’s. But a lot of athletes get caught looking at what’s bright and shiny.
Here’s what this usually looks like in your training:
There’s a new technique that you need to work on. So you decide to focus on it for a session and see if you can improve your skill. It’s a little frustrating at first but you keep working to get your technique just right. But then just as quickly as Shiloh got distracted you instinctively worry about your heart rate being too low.
“Am I working hard enough? Shouldn’t I be sweating more?” These are some of the thoughts that quickly run through your head, pushing out any thought of technique work. It’s times like these that you can really lose focus if you’re not careful.
You’re continually told to work hard, sweat a lot and be out of breath. Accomplish these things and it’s a successful training session. But this is really a narrow view and counterproductive for your long-term development as an athlete.
You should measure success of a training session through the scope of what you want to accomplish that day, in that session. And this is ever changing, as your program should be.
It takes more discipline than you probably think to be able to go through a whole session and just work on your technique and not worry about any other training variables.
A simple solution to this problem is to make sure that any sessions in which you’re focusing on technique are kept short and to the point. Don’t allow extra time in the session in which you might allow yourself to get distracted and worrying about aspects other than the skill you’re trying to improve.
Some of your biggest improvements are made when your heart rate is low and you’re not sweating. Making neurological connections between your brain and muscles is just as important as making your next interval or hitting your max on a lift.
Set aside time to work on technique. Keep it short so you can stay focused.