Emotional resilience is a term used to define how people interact in the world around them. It’s one’s ability to adapt to stressful situations. More emotional resilient people demonstrate an ability to adapt to challenges. One’s emotional resiliency is in part based on a person’s nature but everyone can work on developing better emotional resiliency.
As an athlete myself, one of the hardest things I had to work on was emotional resilience within a training context. I rolled my eyes at my coach at the time and thought that he just doesn’t understand! With hindsight and coaching countless athletes over the years, it was one of the most important things to be learned as an athlete. For me it means not letting my emotions dictate my training and making sure not to workout based on emotion. For those of us who get very caught up, it can be very hard NOT to let emotions like race anxiety or fear of failure rule.
Let’s look at what emotionally resilient people do.
- They are emotionally aware and can pinpoint what they are feeling and why.
- Internal Locus of Control. These people believe they have control over themselves most of the time and have a choice in most situations.
- Optimistic outlook. They work to see the bright side of things in most situations especially with events they cannot control.
- Maintain support networks and take care of themselves.
- Keep perspective as well as humor.
Every athlete at times must work on pulling back fear and anxiety over a race. Focus instead of how you are feeling in the moment when you are training and how you will make today’s run or strength workout or swim session a good workout. Sometimes that may mean asking for help in modifying your workout schedule, or acknowledging over tiredness and pulling back from a hard workout. If a workout is meant to be an easy endurance workout, that means not getting caught up in “making it count” by pushing too hard. You take care of yourself by fueling well, aiming for enough sleep, dialing back other activities when you can at times during peak training for a goal event.
A CL athlete has recently been worrying that she was “going to suck” at her next marathon if she did not get in every workout just right. She was trying to cram them in and feeling guilty to the point where she’d still try to do workouts even when she was exhausted because of work and other life commitments. At this point, rest and help from a coach to prioritize workouts was invaluable and she’ll be better able to understand how all these challenges help her develop her emotional resilience.
Train hard, recover hard and have fun!