You don’t have to be an elite performer to benefit from Olympic training secrets.
Weekend cyclists, runners, triathletes and golfers can all improve performance and cut down on injury time by emulating some of the principles driving elite athletes.
Years of working with elite athlete have taught me there are five simple things athletes do which the rest of us don’t:
1. Not trying to ‘ride out’ injuries: Athletes are great at listening to their bodies and will seek an expert quickly if they have an injury. Sure, we all know inspirational stories where athletes pushed through incredible pain and adversity. When a medal or a ranking is on the line they can do amazing things. But they are way more in-tune with their limits and capabilities than we are. When something goes wrong they do not push their luck – they don’t try to ‘ride it out’. By contrast, weekend warriors in their thousands make small problems much worse by being macho or refusing to give in and betting that ‘riding it out’ is the only way.
2. Rehab exercises are also preventative: Athletes take rehab very seriously, but the rest of us tend to skimp on rehab exercises once the pain goes away. The secret athletes know is that rehab exercises are also preventative exercises. Even if your body is feeling better you may continue to enjoy significant benefit from those rehab exercises.
3. Recovery is essential: We may think of recovery as a beer and a sit down, but even a short recovery routine can help. You may not need the ice baths favoured by elite athletes, but anyone can benefit from using the correct warm-down recovery routine after training and playing.
4. Change a treatment if it’s not working: Too many people continue getting the same treatment when there is no change. Elite athletes expect results quickly, and so should we. You should see a change in three sessions or less. That’s how quickly athletes expect a response and it is a good rule of thumb for anyone. Seek a second opinion if there is no positive change after three sessions.
5. Sleep: Just ensuring regular sleep may make a big difference. Elite athletes are serious about sleep because it’s so important both for mental and physical recovery. You won’t find them rushing to join the ‘sleepless elite’; the famous world leaders and captains of industry who supposedly only need a few hours. An improvement in sleep often has tangible benefits in performance, but again it’s important to have an awareness of your body.