Your Inner Athlete column: Mental toughness technique to boost your training |

Your Inner Athlete column: Mental toughness technique to boost your training

Editor’s note: This is the second column in a two-part series. Visit to read the first installment.

In the first column of this two-part series, we looked at how to properly use association to optimize performance during high intensity training. Today, we discuss how dissociation can save energy during submaximal training. That is, how we can get the most out of our low to moderate intensity training.

How to apply the skill of dissociation

Support Local Journalism

To be blunt, if you can’t think positively, often the best thing to do is shut up! Dissociation is all about distracting yourself away from the exercises you’re engaged in or tuning out the work. The idea behind dissociation is to focus on anything that provides a mental detachment from the activity, but also turns that frown upside down and elicits positive emotions.

Research demonstrates that for training intensities below 75 percent of maximal aerobic capacity, distracting yourself by watching television, reading, listening to favorable music or socializing with a training partner reduces your perceived exertion by about 10 percent. When you tune out the work, during moderate intensity training, your muscles and vital organs send a message to your brain saying that the task seems easier. As a result, you can exert more effort while simultaneously having a more enjoyable training session.

Be selective when you choose the songs, magazines, movies and training buddies to distract you during training. Your goal here is to effectively replace emotional fatigue, boredom and negativity with something or someone that inspires confidence and elicits positive emotions to help you to harness your internal drive and supercharge your workout energy. When you do this, not only will training become more fun, but your performance will also increase, escalating your results.

Dissociation is especially useful for people who find it difficult to stick to a regular training regimen. Using dissociation can help to make training more pleasant and a regular part of your daily routine.

As we learned in the first column in this two-part series, mental fatigue often sets in before physical fatigue. Thus, during low to moderate intensity activities, we must quickly engage in positive distractions so that we can continue to experience an incredible boost in overall performance and produce the best results possible.

With a Ph.D. in sport and exercise psychology, Haley Perlus is a professor, three-time author, international speaker and Peak Performance consultant. For more free tips and videos, go to or call 303-459-4516.

Support Local Journalism