It doesn't take an elite athlete to know that working out is an emotional experience. There is frustration, rage, determination, enthusiasm, just to name a few. But which emotion gets you to your peak performance? There is no right answer - it is different for everyone. So why even ask? Athletes should not only know the answer, but they should know what it takes to get themselves there. Just like a coach trying to pump up a team pre-game, you need to be able to get yourself in the mood. Being in control means better workouts and better results.
The first step is being aware of you how you feel. The next time you are having a great workout or competition, note your mood. Are you confident? How about competitive or committed? Then note what got you there. Was it the feeling of succeeding under pressure? The opportunity to share your abilities or strengths? The confidence of feeling well trained and prepared for the task at hand? Understanding this process will allow you to dial in - and dial out any unhelpful mental chatter.
If you are still having a hard time finding the mental calm, don't try to force it. If you are having adverse emotions before or during a workout, normalize them and then move on. If you focus on your bad emotions or try to reign them in, instead of letting them run their course, it will only become more distracting and destructive to your workout.
As you have heard us say before - the key is staying fully engaged with what you are doing. Be present and focused on the task-relevant cues. You will get distracted. You will have negative thoughts or emotions - someone or something will take your focus. Allow them to pass through you - acknowledge them and refocus. This concept applies outside of sports as well, so if you are able to accomplish this during your workouts, not only will you be a better athlete and competitor, but a more focused person in life!