Whether you run, swim, lift, cycle or climb, physical fitness is only half the story. Which means it's possible to hit your next PB with doing less, rather than more, training.
There is a lot of research that strongly suggests that your physical, mental and emotional states are interrelated. Being good at running or lifting is not enough.
So what is?
Being in touch with messages your body is sending you can prevent injury and help improve your overall performance. Learning some basic mindfulness skills can really help. Being in touch with the sensations of the body, the rhythm of your breathing and where the attention is resting in each moment can be a revelation!
Mindfulness is about body mind co-ordination
When you lift a weight or run that mile, how much of your time is with what you are actually doing and how much is off projecting about what is coming next or reviewing what happened before? Your performance will improve immediately by simply resting in the actual feeling of the movement rather than the running commentary in your head about it!
What to do.....right now
So, start right now. As you're sitting here reading this post just stop.......
Concentrate on the noises that you can hear around you
Feel how your body is weighted through your feet or on the chair
Draw your attention to your breath.
Spend a few minutes just experiencing these sensations, focussing on being present. If you find your thoughts moving away then gently bring them back to where you are right now.
What to do....in your next training session
Almost inevitably during your training you will have moments where you are very present. You can call this flow state, the 'perfect' lift, whatever really...but your mind is focussed upon nothing other than what is happening in that moment. It's not worrying about what to buy for dinner this evening or why your boss hasn't replied to your proposal yet.
When you next train, as you're getting ready spend time concentrating on those small tasks; putting on your running shoes, loading weight onto the bar, taking your bike out of the garage. Experience how this feels, and then carry this on through the training session. What noise does your feet make as they hit the pavement, how does your hand feel as it enters the water, what is the sensation of breath as you increase the intensity.
Listening to your body, actually ENJOYING your training and focusing on your movements is the easiest way to improve your performance. It won't happen every time you train but....over time, and certain sessions you'll be able to perform better, with less effort AND still hit some new PB's!