November 07, 2017

Condition Your Brain and Body this Winter

By Lori Jorgenson, MS

Well, here in the Pacific Northwest it is time to prepare for winter training.  Although this blog may be directed to winter paddling training, it can still pertain to any training program regardless of season.  Conditioning the brain and body is essential to optimizing performance for the paddling season.

What do I mean by training the brain and body?  To train them both is helpful to prepare physically and mentally for:

  • Being at the starting line of a race
  • Various weather conditions
  • How to keep going when fatigue hits during training and competition
  • Times when the race site and/or conditions change and how to adapt
  • How to prepare for when you have to use a different paddling equipment or canoe

These are just some examples.  The main point is to train the brain and body so you are ready for anything and can still train and compete at your optimal high performance level.   

Below are some hints on ways to condition your brain and body:

  • Have a clear picture of where you want to go… what are your goals and ambitions? How do you want to feel when you get there? Without clarity of where you want to go it is difficult to create a roadmap.  It is helpful to review last season to help direct you forward.
  • Develop a periodization program in place that progressively builds to prepare you for your season. This program would include resistance training (muscular endurance, strength, power, etc.), paddling and other conditioning workouts, flexibility training, mindset training, high performance recovery days, sound nutrition, etc.  Make sure it is developed with much thought and the right person(s)/coaches.
  • Set up assessments to help direct your program and keep you on track. Make sure to also include a fatigue assessment which will shed some light on when the body and brain break down in movement to optimize program design as well as reduce injury.
  • Be adaptable and flexible. Change is the most constant variable so be ready to redirect when needed.  Set up a weekly system to review and ask yourself:
    • What worked last week and kept me on track?
    • What took me off track and I need to get rid of this coming week?
    • Is there anything I need to say no to?
    • What surprises do I need to be ready for?
    • How do I schedule next week to stay on track with my ambitions?
  • Create the right mindset and visualize. To stay in the right mindset it is important to set yourself up for success.  Here are some suggestions:
    • Keep your ambitions in front of you so you see them everyday
    • Start your day off right – drink water, workout, meditate, read
    • At night visualize your perfect race. Also visualize a race(s) where you made a wrong go right and finished successfully for yourself.
    • Set an intention for the day, meeting, workout, and/or interaction with people.
    • Keep your input in your mind and your self-talk positive. This creates resilience and helps to look at difficult situations as a way to learn from them.
  • Have a great support group and coach. Make sure you are surrounded with the support you need to get you successfully to where you want to go.

With the following tips in mind it is time for me to get to work and design my winter training program.  Happy paddling and training!!!!

Look forward to hearing how your training is going. Send me a line and let me know how your training is going.

Lori Jorgenson



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