Maintaining Mental & Physical Performance

Maintaining Mental & Physical Performance

We had the chance to sit down with Mark Oldershaw Canadian sprint canoeist whom won the bronze medal in the C-1 1000m at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, is a 2 time Olympian, 73 time National Champion (yes 73 times), and 7 time World Cup Gold Medalist. Wow. Impressive. Sitting down with Mark, we dug into the nuances of maintaining peak mental and physical performance. Here are his thoughts on the topic:

What’s your advice to someone looking to build their sport or fitness confidence?

Surround yourself with teammates and coaches that you enjoy working with. People who are motivating, and you have a good confidence in. Gabriel BS, Ben Russell, Paul Bryant were great teammates leading into London are a perfect example.


Lucky penny in my boat when I race.

What keeps me up at night? What are your fears?

Not performing to my expectations or abilities when it comes to race day. Also, letting down people who have invested in me and my career. Yeah, I believe every time I race I can win. Very rarely I don’t believe I can win.

What do you do to heighten your confidence prior to competition?

Confidence is directly related to competition. The little things give you confidence. Before the race, that is when the truth comes out… and you are either confident or you’re not. You know what you’ve done… you do a self-audit- and everything runs through your head… not a conscious thing… the truth is going to come out.

I try to assert confidence during and before races. Other athletes can be intimidating - you just have to remember they are also looking back at you.

High goals - are they burdensome?

I set very high goals for myself. They can be burdensome… they are more something to work towards. I think earlier in my career if I didn’t achieve things they would have been burdensome.. They are chances to succeed not fail. I always compartmentalize these goals… you cannot win an Olympic medal in a day… some goals are so big.. You have to make them more achievable.

Favourite moment in sport?

Walking down to the dock in London, taking in the Olympic experience, knowing that I was totally ready for the biggest race of my life… and the nerves dropping away and leading to excitement.

How do you approach identifiable weaknesses?

Identify strengths and weaknesses, and see what we did well and what we did wrong. I do like to strengthen my strengths… but you have to attack weaknesses. “Going into London, I needed to beat Tom Hall, therefore I needed to step up fitness and running, or I won’t be able to beat him. I became the best runner in the group.” Go after your best competitors best strengths and become better in these areas. Approach: Monthly review and year round. Then setting plan for the year.


Paddling - C-1

1,000m - 3:45 personal best

500m - 1:48 personal best

200m - 40.0 personal best

2,000m paddling time control - 8:42

Running- 8 km “hump run” to assess general fitness: 27:00

Repeat power bench pull: measuring wattage - 30 reps with Chris Chapman, and we know if I am on track… total wattage over those 30 reps… if it is over 24,000 I am on target… it can get up to 27,000 or 28,000… 933/rep

Spin units - looking at the stroke graph … paying attention to the peak and the time above 0, that is the time you are accelerating vs. decelerating..

How much average sleep per night… 8 hours on average (since becoming a dad it’s a little less)
Distance per stroke.