to Have More Productive Training Sessions
A few years ago, when I wrote The Rescue Swimmer Mindset, I mentioned a concept called flow states. A flow state is just a period of enhanced mental capabilities where our brains can process information at a higher rate than usual. This is the term that can be associated with being “in the zone”. It’s that moment during a test or training session where time seems to stop and your singular focus in on the task at hand. Athletes of all caliber and specialty spend years perfecting the skills required to reach their goals and flow states are a huge reason some succeed. When I talk about flow states being used for training sessions for military training, I like to frame it as a way to have higher quality training sessions more often which leads to a higher probability of graduating from your chosen training program. I use this language to make it clear that flow states aren’t something that you can just enter into if you follow the steps below. You are simply increasing the probability that you will get into a flow state if you are doing these steps.
Step 1: Define Your Goal
What are you training for? Could be to lower your 1.5-mile time or increase your overall strength and conditioning for the Air Force PJ Pipeline.
Step 2: Find a Means of Measuring Your Progress
For example, if you currently run an 11-minute 1.5 mile and want to get it to 9:30.
Step 3: Perfect the Skills Required
This is the hardest part. These are the training sessions you use to get to your goals. In these sessions you can enter into flow states.
Step 4: Seek Greater Challenges
As you reach your goals, you need to immediately set new goals that and repeat these steps. This is an iterative process! You continue to refine and increase your goals the same way you would as you get stronger and increase your reps and weight on the bench press.
If you’re like I was then, you’re probably thinking all of this stuff is a bit far-fetched and simply following workouts and avoiding this mindset stuff is the way to go. The fact is, flow states have been researched and it has been determined that there is a chemical process in the body that occurs during a flow state.
When we feel the initial “in the zone moment”, that’s really just the release of norepinephrine and dopamine into the body. These chemicals increase the heart rate, trigger the release of glucose, increase the flow of blood through the body and decrease physical pain diverting the mind away from any distress. After this initial period of being in the zone, serotonin and oxytocin are released into the body. These chemicals are natural mood stabilizers, aid in sleep, eating and digestion. These are the chemicals that come after, making the flow state feel like an enjoyable and rewarding processes.