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Pagosa track athletes are preparing this week for their third meet of the season, to be held April 5 in Bayfield.
Coach Connie O’Donnell commented in an email to The SUN that, now that the season is in full swing, it is time for athletes “to get serious about techniques and focus on the little things.”
“This is especially the case with the athletes that have many different technical events,” O’Donnell said. “They need to make sure that they are working on all of them instead of focusing on one.”
Athletics demand devotion, commitment and discipline from participants. Learning to manage their training between events helps broaden athletes’ perspectives and increases their understanding that it takes many different elements of training to add up to overall success.
Even athletes in single events, or less technical events, can benefit from a wider perspective during training.
This can mean that an athlete trains with a conscious effort to focus on their breathing in addition to their stride. Or they may come to the realization that strengthening their arms and core is just as crucial to their success as practicing their jumps and sprints.
All events, no matter how specialized the skill, demand an athlete’s entire body to be in shape and to be focused on a common goal during their event: being the best athlete they can be in that moment.
Athletic success is dependent on mental training, as well. Believing their body can accomplish its goal, visualizing themselves crossing the finish line strong, can be just as important for an athlete as their physical preparation for an event.
It is not a new idea that an athlete’s mental state is just as important as their physical condition.
Exercise and sports science professor Tim Noakes said, “Good physical training is important. But what goes on in your head will determine whether you’ll win or lose …”
Running hall of famer Rich Davis also highlighted the importance of mental strength when he said, “Long distance running is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical.”
Training athletes to think about their success as a compilation of several different elements, including mental, is a skill that students can take off the field and apply to other areas of their lives, including academics.
All this week, and for the remainder of the season, track athletes will continue to hone their skills, grow as competitors and learn to believe in their ability to succeed.