Morgane Echardour (center) waiting for the right moment.
Photo courtesy: Morgane Echardour
Performing well — whether you’re training or racing — doesn’t only require strong muscles and a well-conditioned body. Equally important is a focused mind.
I’ve learned this the hard way.
In races in which I wasn’t focused, I’ve let unexpected events, like crashes, break my focus and distract me from my game plan. And the results were usually less than I had hoped for.
Conversely, in races in which I was able to maintain my focus, I usually have better results.
For example, in one outdoor race, another racer and I were approaching the finish line ahead of the pack. We were both waiting to launch our sprints.
I could feel the urge to start early. But I stayed focused and launched my sprint at just the right moment — and got the finish line first.
The effect of focus on training may be less dramatic, but it’s equally important. Unless you learn to focus when you train, your workouts are likely to be “blasé. You may put in lots of miles, but you are unlikely to to push through the pain and make real gains in your performance.
This is especially true for skaters without coaches to push them.
Learning to focus is — like most things — a matter of practice.
Start by learning to focus when you train. Take a few minutes before, during and after your workouts to think about what you are trying to do and how you are doing it.
This doesn’t have to be intense, like doing calculus. Just be thoughtful and honest and revise accordingly.
One thing that may help you stay focused is to listen to some music during workouts to keep you in the right state of mind.
Make a race plan a few days before every event. Your plan should include your goals for the event and how you plan to achieve them.
Think about what pack or skaters you plan to skate with and what pace you hope to maintain.
If you use a heart rate monitor, set goals and limits for where you should be at various points in the race — or workout, for that matter.
If you are an elite skater, plan the exact spot, or spots, where you want to launch attacks.
Stick to your plan as much as possible. But be ready with backup plans: things don’t usually goes as planned once a race starts.
When things get crazy, stay calm. Don’t get flustered. Don’t lose your focus.
When a breakaway happens, don’t chase it unless you think it’s important.
If it starts raining, don’t get discouraged. Sure, it’s unpleasant, but it’s the same way for everyone. ... And it's just part of racing.
Morgane Echardour is the 2012 NROC Champion. Born and raised in France, she started skating at the age of eight. She moved to Canada as a teenager and has represented Canada in two world championships. She holds the Canadian national record in the 15 km on the road (27:21.02). She lives in Mississauga and enjoys graphic and industrial design, painting, cycling, cooking and racing.