1. Lay the foundation for endurance.
If you want to perform like an Olympian, put yourself in training and give yourself the physical resources to go the distance. What does that mean? Get enough sleep; sleep heals. Make the most of “recovery” time—leave work at work, and when you aren’t working, do things that help you bounce back. Listen to music, take a warm bath, get a massage…play at something. Keep yourself fit with regular exercise and “clean”, nutritious food. When you’re stressed, reach for that apple instead of the Oreo.
2. Lay out clear goals and actions.
Olympic athletes dream big and set their sights on clear goals that they keep in front of them. Speed skater Dan Jansen, who won Olympic gold in 1994, said, “The higher you set your goals, the more you’re going to work.” Think long and hard, then put your goals in writing and post them somewhere you will see them daily so that your aspirations stay at the forefront of your mind. Finally, link your goals to actions that will get you there.
3. Create a training plan.
Olympic athletes plan out their training schedules annually and up to four years in advance to make sure they reach specific performance goals. While their plans may not include exact details on how many repetitions they should complete on a Tuesday in February, they do designate periods of rest and intense workouts, says Steve Bamel, strength and conditioning coordinator for the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. Particularly in the lead-up to the games, athletes also specifically train to prepare their bodies for the types of conditions they’ll face during outdoor events. In Beijing, that’s projected to be temperatures in the 80s with up to 80% humidity.
4. Put together your own “team.”
To make sure they achieve their goal, athletes training at a U.S. Olympic Training Center frequently meet with a team –usually including a nutritionist, exercise physiologist, sports medicine specialist and coach–to discuss their strengths and weaknesses and accordingly tweak their diets, routines, attitude and recovery methods. You can develop your own support network—those who encourage, support and, even, critique your efforts. People you trust and go to for advice.
5. Develop mental discipline
“The physical aspect of the sport can only take you so far,” said Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Shannon Miller. “The mental aspect has to kick in, especially when you’re talking about the best of the best. In the Olympic games, everyone is talented. Everyone trains hard. Everyone does the work. What separates the gold medalists from the silver medalists is simply the mental game.” Do your thoughts tend to lift you up — or are you constantly tearing yourself down with thoughts of fear, self-doubt and unworthiness? Positive self-talk, both Instructional and motivational, gives athletes a leg up on the competition, according to sports psychologist Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis. He’s echoing an athlete’s maxim: sports are 90% mental and 10% physical.
Athletes use mental imagery to perform at their peak by visualizing, step by step, how they will perform and the outcome they want. Research on the brain patterns of weightlifters found that the patterns activated when a weightlifter lifted heavy weights were activated similarly when they simply imagined lifting. Some studies have suggested that mental practice can be almost as effective as physical training. Seeing in your mind’s eye a situation and your performance can enhance motivation, increase confidence, improve motor performance, and prime your brain for success.
To get on the road toward the gold, put the Administrative Professionals Conference and Executive Assistants’ Summit on YOUR training schedule – today!
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