In a previous piece discussing the Top Reasons Why We Fail, lack of preparation was one of them. Perhaps it’s a top reason because, for the most part, we are not taught to prepare on a tri dimensional scale. We learn that if we pursue sports then we are required to train our body, if we pursue a career we are required to train our minds, if we pursue spirituality we are required to train our habit. However, no matter what we pursue, to be successful we are required to train all three aspects. Are you preparing enough for your next pursuit? Are you dedicating time to prepare your mind, body and soul?
Physical Preparation: Regardless of whether you wish to be a doctor, an attorney, a teacher, a writer, or an athlete, physical training is very important. Countless studies show the benefits of exercise and the strong link between physical fitness and health. Being healthy and strong has its advantages in the pursuit of every goal. As less “medical time off” is required, the body is more efficient, and the physical limits are stretched farther, there will be more time to focus on the goal. In some cases, physical limitations cause compensation and the preparation becomes even more specific, such in cases of athletes who are missing limbs, professionals who have certain handicaps, etc.Nevertheless, their ability to overcome the physical limitations is a clear demonstration of the power we all harness inside.
In his book, The Runners Guide To The Planet, Jesper Kenn Olsen, the first athlete to run around the world twice, discusses how, after making the decision to complete a run around the world, he took two years to specifically train for the task. And Jesper was not someone without training, at the time he made the decision to run around the world, he held several national titles in ultrarunning and had won several 6 day races – competitions where athletes run virtually with minimal or no breaks for 6 days straight.
Even more, the physical preparation has to be very specific for the task pursued. Even after completing two runs around the world, and being considered by many in the ultra running world one of the best athletes, last year Jesper took 6 months to specifically train for the Icarus Florida UltraFest, an annual 6 day race held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where he took 1st place.
Jesper’s two year training in preparation for the world run and 6 months training for the Icarus Florida UltraFest only underlines the requirement for very thorough preparation, specific for each goal.
Mental Training: Following with Jesper’s ultrarunning example, in his book, he describes how, during the world runs, every day before he would start his run, he would take at least 30 minutes to mentally prepare. Before competing in major races he likes to take a few days to specifically prepare mentally for the competition. During this time he does not like to interact much with others and prefers to focus on the inside.
So what is mental training and what are some of the methods to prepare?
Regardless of the goal, we have to find a way to stay motivated and a way to find solutions to all the problems we encounter. Mental training could be understood as doing your homework — understanding the best way possible to achieve the task pursued. It could involve studying (any professional requires a degree/certification; a writer will require a good understanding of the language, an athlete will require knowing the course), visualization of the journey (such as visualization of the path and finish line as well as the problems encountered) and preparing for as many problems as possible (from physical issues, financial issues, nutrition, hydration, language to depression and desire to quit) by having a pre-planned answer. You also have to learn to find answers in the moment, as unforeseeable problem can arise.
Habitual/Spiritual Training: Very few people ever pursue this avenue of training, however it is a common characteristic in all who consistently accomplish their goals. It is exactly what it is suggested, habitual training. Learning to always accomplish your goals, finding peace in the pursuit of the goal by removing doubt and understanding the deep need to succeed, thus avoiding regret.
Training in this dimension takes much longer than the other two. Developing a habit of always completing the tasks could take years depending on the starting point. Some of the techniques used could be exercises of setting up daily tasks such as doing groceries, training, doing laundry, being on time, and accomplishing all of them without excuses. The more tasks can be accomplished without excuse, the closer one gets to developing a habit of success.
The other part of habitual training is a clear understanding of why we are pursuing the goal. It is extremely important to be convinced that our pursuit is worth it before starting. Becoming a doctor is very expansive and requires years of training and doubting on a daily basis if we made the right decision is counterproductive because we need all the energy to focus on task.
The same principle applies to athletes and ultra-runners. Being capable of competing in 100 mile races requires years of training, it could be expansive, it is painful, and doubting ourselves is the leading reason athletes do not properly train.
Athletes such as Jesper Kenn Olsen and Liz Bauer, or programs such as Nana Endurance Training are endorsing the commitment strategy of the preparation trifecta. Imagine what can you accomplish if you dream big, commit to prepare using the trifecta model and never give up!
Nana, A. (2015). Top Reasons Why We Fail. Psych Central.
Olsen, J. (2014), The Runner’s Guide To The Planet, Kindle Edition.
Icarus Florida UltraFest: www.icarusfloridaultrafest.com
Nana Endurance Training: www.nanaendurancetraining.com