Tap into health: Seven mental discipline tips for endurance training

Running dozens of marathons in 25 years requires a level of mental discipline that few are able to master. Lisa Palmiotto, Director of Fitness at Old Town Hot Springs, has spent more than 25 years of her life training and coaching others to run marathons.

A mother of six, Palmiotto says she took up running because it was a healthy activity that got her outside with her children, often pushing them around in a jogging stroller while she worked out. “It was my way of keeping my head in the right place to take care of all my kids,” Palmiotto said. “I thought of it as mindfulness and focus.”

Since then Palmiotto has worked with a plethora of endurance athletes including professional sailors, baseball players and marathon runners. As the new Director of Fitness at Old Town Hot Springs, Palmiotto offers her expertise to local athletes as a coach, mentor and responsible partner. Here are his tips for developing and maintaining mental discipline during endurance training.

Listen to your body

Listen to your body’s messages during your workout. If you feel good, keep pushing and if you feel bad, try to assess why you don’t feel good. A journal can be very helpful for this process, Palmiotto suggests writing down what you eat, your exercise and how you feel each day during your training program. Exhaustion or lethargy may indicate a problem with nutrition, hydration, or rest that needs to be addressed.

Stay focused on the present moment

Don’t let your mind drift into future repetitions of your workout, stay focused on the present moment and the activity. “Marathons are done one mile at a time,” Palmiotto said. “A marathon is 26 repetitions of a mile. Focus on the mile you are running, not mile 20 or 26.”

This philosophy can also be applied to weightlifting and other gym workouts. “Don’t worry about what your third set of reps will look like while you’re still doing your first,” Palmiotto said.

Plan your pace in advance

Before diving into your fitness routine, create a plan for your rough pace through your workout milestones. For runners, this can be like approximating your time for each mile of your run and monitoring your time on a watch. In the gym, this might mean planning a rough time for each set of reps and limiting parts of your workout to 5 or 10 minute intervals.

Work with a professional

For aspiring athletes, Palmiotto recommends working with a professional trainer, dietitian, nutritionist, or fitness trainer to help develop a training plan that’s unique to your physical condition and goals. Even if you can only afford one session, the information provided by these professionals can help you develop a realistic workout plan and prevent overexertion.

At Old Town Hot Springs, endurance athletes can take classes, programs, or sign up for one-on-one coaching with Joanne Orce. Orce offers training programs for the Steamboat Marathon, Ironman competitions, and more.

Find an accountability partner

Another tip Palmiotto suggests is to find an accountable partner, even if that partner can’t or won’t do the workout or training program with you. This could be someone reviewing your journal notes about your progress or cheering you on during your workouts.

Get enough rest for recovery

One of the most important parts of sports training is getting enough rest to fuel your muscle recovery. Endurance athletes should get at least 8 hours of rest each night during their training and before their event.

Do yoga for mindfulness and injury prevention

“My suggestion to anyone walking around Old Town Hot Springs is to take one yoga class a week,” Palmiotto said. “It’s great for mindfulness, concentration and injury prevention. I ran marathons for eight to nine years before taking my first yoga class and I still had injuries. Since I started doing yoga, I stopped having injuries.

Old Town Hot Springs offers a variety of yoga classes throughout the week. Check the online schedule to find a class that’s right for you.

Sarah Konopka is the Marketing Director of Old Town Hot Springs. Learn more at OldTownHotSprings.org.

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