You must learn to control your emotions, because if you do you set yourself up to have more control over your performance. I am not just talking about anger or frustration, I am also talking about excitement and adrenaline. The other day I was watching a documentary on the 2015 CrossFit games. This film shows the behind the scenes aspects of the events, the athletes talking about their feelings and experience in the middle of the games and in retrospect. It goes through each of the events this way, so you get a pretty good idea of what the athletes are thinking and feeling as the games progress. There is one event called Murph where the athletes do a 1 mile run, 100 pullups, 200 pushups, 300 squats and another 1 mile run all while wearing a weighted vest. This is in California in July by the way, so scotching heat, some of them wearing black weighted vests. At the 2015 games, this event crushed pretty much all the athletes because they all approached it incorrectly given their capabilities. The adrenaline they felt escalated how quickly they all started the first 1 mile run, some going at a 6 min/mile pace, which for what else they still needed to do was dangerous.
You start to see people doing only one pushup at a time, then taking a break and then again. People were getting the point of blacking out. This is something they have all done before, all trained for, and yet the combination of the games and then maybe following the masses and getting out to such a quick start destroyed the athletes. One of the announces makes comment saying he didn’t know how this happened. It happened because of the lack of mental preparation for this event, for what being at the games and doing this event would do to their adrenaline levels, to making it harder to pace themselves. While it is a tough event, and it was hot, it was not any different then in the past. However, the athletes for the most part had a hard time mentally dealing with things. There comes a point where they interview the winner of this event on the men’s side. He is from Iceland, and he talks about how much he liked the heat. He trains constantly in cold weather, so to him it was a nice change. He could have easily seen it the opposite way, that because he trains in cold weather the heat was too much, but he makes it to his advantage and crushes everyone else to finish first.
One of the biggest things athletes don’t take into consideration when preparing for an event is looking at how the event itself will impact them and their emotions and what they might to counter the effects. One of the biggest problems for Olympic athletes is not the event themselves it is the fact that they are at the Olympics and the distractions and size of event is enormous compared to what they do on a regular basis. They all have to find ways to make it more normal, so that they stay emotionally where they need to be to be at their best.