Before your pilot takes off, he goes through a preflight checklist. Tony can give you the details on this if you are curious as he has done so millions of times in some exceptionally large and some extremely fast airplanes. This is done to always make sure the flight goes as smoothly and safely as possible. Your training session should also have a pre-session checklist. This takes a few minutes so make sure you give yourself ample time. After all, when the plane takes off at 5:43 pm, you probably will not have the greatest experience showing up at the gate at 5:43 pm.
Mental Preparation Checklist
1. Find out what we are doing today.
Sometimes a curveball comes your way. Are we following standard training program or is today a day we are going for a swim? Ask me, I will tell you. “Today is session H2. Last time you did this was on July 8th.” Something like that will often be my response.
2. Find out date we did H1 and check Strava to see what distance and trails you ran that day.
Remember the distance. Also look to see how many minutes you ran. Paces are not a bad thing to know. If I ran 1.43 miles at a 12:43 pace that day, I could use this information to guide me. If your coach tells you he wants you to match the distance, you can pace yourself to do just that and have a phenomenal training session. Knowing the trails you ran matters because not all trails are the same. Some are faster than others. Know your numbers, mentally be prepared.
3. If you have done H1, you need to look through the notebooks. Start writing your initials and last weight used onto the new page. This will mentally prepare yourself for the strength training section of the workout. “Last time I did 105 lbs on the seated row for 5 reps. I will begin there.” Going through the workout notebooks and beginning the documentation process gets your mind engaged and ready.
4. Did I take care of potential distractions? No one wants to hear your phone ring. No one wants to hear you talk on your phone. There is reason many studios and almost all training facilities do not allow them in the area. People want to punch you in the face when it goes off. Remember that time in church the girl behind you had a phone there and it went off? You rolled your eyes. Then the girl had the audacity to answer it!! You had to start begging for forgiveness for your thoughts after a couple minutes. Don’t be that girl. If you have an emergency, grab it, and run to the edge of the water that looks the most snake infested. Feel free to hang out there and chat as long as you want. That is the designated phone answering area.
You have now mentally prepared for the workout. You know what kind of distance and weights you did last time. Now when the instructions come which often come before we warm up, you will be ready.
Physical Preparation Checklist
1. Do I need to pee?
Ideally, we take care of this before workout, sometimes the “urge” isn’t there. Looks like your first run will be toward trees with nice leaves or the restroom. Build it in as your run and keep your clock going. Don’t go extra 2 minutes over time I tell you because you had to go potty if you can help it.
2. Are the weights I need laid out?
I try to do this for you but sometimes the gates open late and I am scrambling to set up or I missed something. This isn’t a spa; it is a training session. Part of training is teaching people how to be somewhat self-sufficient. I have always found when people learn to put weights on bars, set things up, etc. they are more mentally sure of the workout and engaged. If I forgot to put out enough 45s for your 315 lb bench press, grab them and put them out. Carrying things is a good warm up. Sometimes I may need a little help setting up the session. I appreciate it when you give me that assistance before and often after.
3. Does any part of my body need extra attention?
Do I have a foot that needs a little TLC? An IT band that needs some love? There are lacrosse balls and foam rolls available all the time. Use them. These things are staples to the diets of supple 25-year pro athletes for a reason. If you are 50, you probably need them twice as bad. AT LEAST.
4. Do I need a little extra warmup?
Maybe you find you do better after you have had a 10-minute jog. I get it. Take a 10-minute light jog and be ready to go when the session begins. Maybe you have a shoulder that needs a little extra warmup before you press. Get on the bench and do some easy, smooth light weights. If I want your first set at 135 lbs, maybe a set of 10-15 with the bar and a set of 5-10 at 95 lbs is a good idea. Groove the pattern and warm up the pattern that you want to load. It will make for happier joints.
At this point you are ready for your training session. You are mentally locked in and awaiting instructions. You are physically prepared to come out of the gate ready to roll. If the NFL ever happens, go to a 1 pm game at 10 am and see how many athletes/coaches/staff are preparing. “Why is Julio Jones foam rolling and skipping around 3 hours before game time? He is a specimen of athletic amazement!“ Correct, that is how he got to be a stud. Preparing his body and putting in the time on the little things matters. If you are twice his age and nowhere as gifted as he is, you probably should put in at least a few minutes of preparation. Get there with enough time to get truly ready. If you ever show up late and no one is there because our warmup or whole training session involved a field trip by foot, I’m as sorry as the lady who works the counter at American Airlines who won’t let you board the plane that is pulling away from the gate.