A Winning Vocabulary
When considering how you feel about your last week of training (or life), be sure not to limit your vocabulary to simply “good or bad”. I understand that there is otherwise a potentially utility to keeping the language that simple, and I admit that I sometimes remind my athletes to think of their training program as keeping a scorecard for each week in terms of whether the week was a “win or a loss,” and so I recognize the potential contradiction I just offered. However, my point in encouraging athletes to think about their training in terms of a win-loss record is related to zooming out and looking at the week as a whole, instead of focusing on the one or two aspects that didn’t go 100% according to plan.
When you consider the entirety of the week, using both objective and subjective data points, then the overwhelming majority of your weeks should be "good weeks”…a win! You could even use a word other than “good,” as in reporting that the week went “great!” If you don’t believe that it was a great week, or even a good week, then why not? To take it a step further, just because it wasn’t a good week, does that automatically imply it was a bad week? Probably not.
Even if you don’t think it was a great/good week of training, expanding your vocabulary in that regard means you’ll have many more words to choose from that have a positive connotation from which you can label your week. The practical application of the bigger vocabulary is that you won’t be so quick to label a training week negatively, and then you get to score one in the Win category!
Our thoughts are framed by the exact words we use. “We think in terms of language”—George Carlin. Elite athletes who frequently use mental imagery and develop such “scripts” for races demonstrate this element of psychological skills training. Specifically, they practice the exact words/phrases (cue words) they want to say at various points in the game/race/course to keep the self-talk positive and task-specific. It is a skill that takes deliberate practice to develop. Bottom line: Develop a bigger vocabulary.