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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Aimees Soapbox August 2007

Aimee's August Soapbox
August 2007: Assessment, Part II
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Greetings Groovy Soapbox Readers!

(This column is a continuation of last month's theme. Yes, I am sure you realized that when you saw the "Part II" in the title, smarty pants. The point is that you might want to read-or read again-that column to get you ready for this one.)

If you read last month's column (this is now your second reminder to do so, so you may want to do that before reading on. . . . go ahead, I'll wait. . . . ) you know that both of my parents have been coaches. And some of you might now that I have been a coach. In fact, I am still coaching; in this case, I am an assistant coach on my own dragon boat team.

One thing that I have noticed this season with some of my teammates is a lack of enthusiasm. Now, this is not meant as a criticism of my teammates; it is strictly an observation of the General Team Atmosphere. My observation is based on a few things: we have done far fewer races this year than in years past, attendance has been down at some practices, and there are a few folks who have simply taken the year off.

Have you ever had a year like that, my Groovy Runners? When your heart is just not into it? When you need a break from racing? Or when you just aren't getting out there like you used to?

First, let me reassure you that this kind of thing is perfectly natural and normal. Running and dragon boating--just like life--go in cycles. There is no such thing as The Straight Line to Fitness Land. Some years you will have injuries, some years you will kick butt, some years will kick you in the butt, some years you will feel burned out and need to take time off, and some years you will rally to kick butt again. It's all a big ole circle that goes around and around and does not stay static, or even build upward in a straight line.

So, no matter which cycle you are in, you can always assess yourself to gain some perspective. Here are a few good questions to ask yourself:

1. How is my mental "fitness" level? Do I need to work on mental toughness? Do I let self- doubt creep in during testing and racing? Do I let myself slack off during practice? Do I feel burned out because I am too hard on myself mentally and never let myself have normal ups-n-downs?

2. How is my strength? Is my strength balanced in all areas of my body? Do I have areas where I compensate, thus setting myself up for future injury?

3. How is my endurance? Can I improve my cardiovascular base over the winter? Do I feel winded at practice, even during short pieces? Can I add some cardio cross training into my routine?

4. How is the balance in my life? Do I take things too seriously? Not seriously enough? Am I overtraining in any one area of my fitness? Am I including time for myself and my family in my overall schedule?

Take a few moments to answer these questions for yourself. Find out where you need to focus, or to let up. In this way, you can devise a more well-rounded plan for yourself so that you can become a stronger, healthier, more balanced athlete in the months and years ahead. So go assess yourself, and remember to think in cycles!
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