Train Like A Winter Olympian: 5 Simple Steps

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   This week marked the start of the 2018 Winter Olympics, one of the most exciting international sports competitions in the world. Athletes from all over the world have converged on the half-pipes and icy rinks of Pyeongchang, South Korea to put their years of training to the test on an international stage. If you’re one of the 260 million who tuned in in the first weekend, you’ve seen firsthand the level of skill these athletes embody - but though they compete at a level perhaps ever so slightly more elite than the rest of us, there’s plenty us mere mortals can learn from them in our own fitness routines. Check out our top 5 takeaways from the Winter Olympians that can be applied to our real-life workouts.

1. Commit To It!
In an interview with ice dance duo Maia and Alex Shibutani, they describe a five-days-a-week skating schedule, while their counterparts, Madison Chock and Evan Bates, train four hours a day followed by off-ice classes. Though the average human can’t dedicate 4 hours a day/5 days a week to their workout regimen, committing to a repeated pattern of exercise and self-care (even if that’s just adding one more serving of vegetables to the day or one more cardio session to the week) is the only stable way to yield long-term results.

2. Set Tangible Benchmarks
Ok, so our benchmarks may not be the same as hoping to bring home a medal for our country, but that’s not to say we shouldn't set them at all! Goal-setting is crucial to the success of any workout regimen, and it doesn’t need to be as lofty as Olympic Gold. Simply setting an ideal mile time if you’re a runner, or committing to walking off 5 pounds this year, gives you a measurable goal to work towards. And increasing your SPM bit-by-bit through the Spring App is a great way to keep workouts from getting stagnant and gradually increase your performance.

3. Work On Mental Strength
Ever noticed how at the end of a brutally cross-country ski race, the athletes actually speed up? That’s because, despite the fact that their body is being pushed to the limit, they’ve also trained their brains to be able to push them that final half-mile. As physicist and writer Alex Hutchinson says, ‘once you’re getting up to these very long durations, it’s all about whether your brain can keep you going and less about whether your legs are capable of going.’ The same applies to your race training - the longer runs you complete, the more your brain knows you can endure.

4. Try out Cross Training
For athletes whose sports are as weather-dependent as cross-country skiing or bobsled, cross-training with other sports is a huge part of their overall regimen. Whether they’re mixing it up with jogging, soccer or weight training, cross training contributes hugely to their overall fitness and success. So, too, can cross training help in your fitness regimen, by helping you to beat boredom, target different areas of your body, and challenge yourself to obtain a new skill.

5. Have Fun!
Many Olympians speak to the need to keep an element of joy in their performances in order to succeed in a high-stress, high-pressure environment. Through tricks such as applying glitter to their face, taking a moment for deep breathing exercises, or thinking intentional, positive self-talk before beginning their competition, they make sure to imbue each competition day with some levity. No matter where you are in your fitness journey, never forget that exercise, even though it can be deeply hard, should ultimately improve your quality of life. Find something about your fitness routine to take pleasure in, whether that’s the post-workout endorphin boost, your favorite workout song showing up at the perfect moment, or even the joy of earning yourself a new pair of sneakers. After all, whether you’re a gold medalist or a first-time power walker, this stuff should fundamentally be fun!

 

Sources:

A Physicist Reveals the Secrets of Human Endurance. Feb 13, 2018.
https://www.vox.com/2018/2/9/16974160/endure-winter-olympics-mind-muscle-biathlon

Winter Olympics 2018: Olympians Show How They Train

https://www.teenvogue.com/story/how-winter-olympians-train


 

Cecilia Winter