The 2014 Winter Games are underway in Sochi. Have you ever wondered how an Olympic athlete trains and prepares for their shot at a gold medal? James Bicos, M.D., Orthopedic Surgeon & Sports Medicine Specialist; consulting physician for the USA Olympic Gymnastics team and Barry Franklin, Ph.D., Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation share five tips on training like the world’s best athletes:
1. Set a goal and stick with it. “For many Olympic athletes, this is a lifetime of work for them. It consisted of setting goals, meeting those goals, and then setting new ones to aspire to be the best,” says Dr. Bicos. You can do this with all parts of your life. Just remember that not reaching your goal is NOT a failure. Evaluate what happened, make changes and try again!
2. Be healthy! The saying “We are what we eat” has some truth to it. Stay away from fatty foods, junk food and caffeinated/carbonated beverages. Don’t rely on fad diets – if it is too good to be true, it probably is. You are better off eating a well-rounded diet, coupled with a good exercise regimen.
3. See your physician! Endurance exercise, especially when vigorous, is a double-edged sword: it both protects against and can trigger cardiac events. Cardiac events are likely triggered by undetected cardiovascular disease, most notably, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or clogged coronary arteries. Both of these abnormalities can often be detected via appropriate screenings, such as those being offered by the new Beaumont Cardiovascular Performance Clinic.
4. Avoid the words “No” or “I can’t”. In order to be the best, there are times when we feel at our worst — especially with training. The Olympics come only once every 4 years, so for many of the athletes that get one chance, failure is not an option. If you find yourself saying “I can’t do this…”, change it to say “I have trouble doing this.” Dr. Bicos adds, “Getting rid of I can’t and saying I can or I will try, will keep you motivated and keep you in the game!”
5. Find your pace. With any Olympic sport or cardiovascular activity, it’s critical to find a competitive and sustainable pace. The optimal pace for endurance training is achieved just below the anaerobic or ventilatory threshold. A cardiopulmonary exercise test can find your optimal pace and your corresponding heart rate, which can be used to help regulate your training speed and competitive race pace.