Monday, February 1, 2016

Creating Epic Performances

by Gina Kehr

When it comes to racing, almost everyone is constantly looking for the perfect workout to help have that epic performance. What I think many people do not realize is that while the physical workouts are important, the mind is the source of true epic performances. The question is, how can you train yourself to have that epic performance?

One way is through the super insane workouts that we all hear of other people doing. This type of strategy is going beyond what your physical expectations may be. Here are a couple of the “over the top” workouts I have heard:

  • 100x200m on the track. Alone. Just you and the track. I can not remember the pace they were supposed to hold, but no matter, if you ask me, it is over the top.
  • Riding a few hours with intensity then hitting the sauna for an hour of “heat training” that may consist of 10 minute sessions with a bit of a break in between. Again, in my eyes, a little much.

When you look at either workout even though the physical act is above and beyond, both really come down to the mental endurance of the athlete and how he or she handles the workout when the going gets overly tough. I believe these insane sessions are designed so that you are forced to meet your demons before race day.

I think lots of athletes thrive on these types of workouts and from time to time it is fun and empowering to test your limits, but it is possible to meet your demons during your regular training sessions where you end up in an impromptu “race” session.

Let’s look at an example towards the end of a long run. You are tired, beat down and your brain is empty -- you can actually see your car. You are about to slow down and then all of a sudden you see a speck up the road. You seize the opportunity and switch the gear and tell yourself that speck is your competitor up ahead, it is the final miles in the marathon and you ask yourself, “What am I going to do? How can I bridge the gap? Can I even do it?” The only way to find out is to do it. Chase the speck down, imagine you are in the race, you are seeing the mile marker signs. Feel the fatigue and push the pace harder, reel in the speck inch by inch, calling yourself a badass all the way. Your run has now turned from your intended 18 miles into 21 miles and you are running hard. The speck is in front of you and your are breathing as hard as you can. You finally catch it... you put your hands in the air and turn your bright red face to it and say, “Thank you.”

No matter what your method, it is training your brain that helps get you that breakthrough performance. Experiment, create your own “insane” workout and find out how you can push your limits. Each time you do, you will be that much closer to your all-time-most-epic performance.

Gina Kehr was a professional athlete for 15 years, competing in events ranging from Olympic Trials to Ironman World Championships, where she achieved five Top 10 finishes in her career. She coaches athletes of all levels and all distances. Her experience comes from her journey as a novice age-group triathlete who quickly worked her way to becoming an established professional triathlete. Gina also works with the Stanford Tri team, is a coach with Stanford Masters and leads a squad of short and long course athletes. You can read more about Gina at
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