Motivation Monday: Tips from Kara Goucher’s sports psychologist

A few months ago, I was lucky enough to get to chat with sports psychologist Stephen Walker, a fellow University of Colorado grad who has worked with the likes of Adam and Kara Goucher (also CU Buffaloes!), for a story. Now that the story, Meditations on Fitness, is live on the Coloradan magazine’s website, I’m happy to share my favorite of Walker’s tips here:

1. Train with a partner. Walker says this is a tried-and-true motivation tip for a reason. “[It] distributes the motivation, so it’s not all on one person,” he says. “And you feel a responsibility to your team or group rather than just yourself.” Plus,” he says, “it makes time spent doing hard work fly by.”

2. Appreciate the benefits. “Look at the reasons you work out,” Walker says. “For many active people, fitness in and of itself is reinforcement. Appreciate the byproducts of living a healthy lifestyle — a more positive attitude, more energy and the way you look and feel in clothes.”

3. Develop a dashboard. Walker advises athletes to scroll through a mental checklist during a race or event. “Athletes at every level can benefit from rotating through a mental list: How’s my form? How’s my rhythm and tempo? How’s my breathing? How’s my arm work?” he says.

4. Be as relaxed as possible on race day. “Look around,” he says. “Wave to people you recognize. Put a smile on your face. Drink it in and have fun.”

In other news, I’ve got a major announcement: After something like 140 hours of class, and countless more hours of study, reading and practice since September, Steve and I passed our Outdoor Emergency Care (ski-patrol medical) practical exam on Saturday! The exam took three hours, with each candidate leading two scenarios and taking part in a total of six. It marked the first time we treated practice patients on the snow at Whitetail—an exciting reminder of what it is we’ve been training to do. Better yet, our entire class passed on our first try, which we’re told is rather unique.

You may recall that I celebrated the passage of our OEC written exam with “suck it up” cupcakes.

Our OEC instructors tell us to "suck it up, cupcake" when we're being sissies.

Steve and I upped the ante to celebrate this one, with a yummy pasta dish and wine for me …

… and a steak and Steve’s favorite Belgian beer for him.

Note that the beer is in an Arapahoe Basin glass.

We’re not ski patrollers yet—we’ve got ski & toboggan/mountain operations training just about every Saturday this winter. But this marked a major milestone worthy of celebration.

How do you celebrate a major accomplishment, athletic or otherwise?

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Motivation Monday: Tips from Kara Goucher’s sports psychologist

  1. Joe

    Steak ? it looks like a cow died on his plate.

  2. Stephen’s such a fun guy to work with* – I was delighted to see the Coloradan do a story about him. He’s the ‘magic’ behind some of CU’s greatest athletes! I never realized till I met him that the peak performers optimize everything!

    * I assist him with Podium Sports Journal and Dr. Stephen Walker.com

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