I had an amazing Christmas. My entire family-extended family was home. Home is Buffalo. They came from France, Georgia, Pittsburgh and further. Here are a few pictures. My parents hosted everyone … and it was awesome. The pictures capture it better than words can:
It was good. Real good.
I have a love and passion for the mind. Particularly the mind of the athlete. Jesse got me into this a few years ago with his development of his team’s mental fitness program. He pointed me to some good resources that were essential for coaches and athletes. One of these is The New Toughness Training For Sports. A great resource I highly recommend.
Since then I have read everything from Unbroken to The Alchemist, Stillpower to Zendurance. I love to take a deep look at what makes successful athletes and successful businessmen … successful.
In my opinion the two often fall hand in hand. I want to know what their thought processes are, what they do when they fall down, how they get back up again. What makes them resilient. What makes them successful. I want to know not to copy…. we are all our own people…. I want to know that I can understand and apply to my own athletes and my own athletics. I think there are great nuggets out there that we can each have and hold close, which can help us unlock the best athlete within ourselves.
One of my favorite websites for sport psychology is called The Sport Mind. Here you will find articles upon articles that are short and sweet yet have themes critical to what you and I do. In particular …. I liked this article called The Paradox of Trying.
I LOVED these paragraphs:
It is only when we are faced with something challenging and self-doubt arises that we being to ‘try’. And this ‘trying’ causes tension. When dieters try to eat healthily, they only get stronger cravings for unhealthy food. When gym-goers try to stretch, they only get tighter (do it now – ‘try’ straightening your arm and you’ll feel both your extensor tricep and flexor bicep muscles tensing. You are fighting yourself). When a weightlifter ‘tries’ to lift the bar, they end up failing the lift. This is common in elite sport and is seen when athletes ‘choke’ under pressure – when they ‘try’ to consciously control a movement that is usually carried out automatically, negatively affecting performance (think Rory Mcllroy at the 2011 US Masters)
Less effort can create more results. By letting things happen and stopping the stressful approach of ‘trying’, we make natural progression by working right at the edge of our comfort zone. We flow with life rather than fight against it. We avoid the burnout.
If you are a tennis player, don’t try to hit the ball, just let the racquet swing. If you are a long jumper, don’t try to jump, find your resolve, and then let your body do the jumping. If you are yogi, envisage the pose, and then let your body move into it.
As triathletes… we can try to the death. It’s when we back up a bit and let things go….. let things fly….. that things begin to happen.
Thursday morning I found myself on the treadmill. The workout was nothing difficult. An aerobic run with 6 X 1 minute intervals at a designated pace. Coach Ryan assigned the pace. When I looked at the pace I laughed. Um, yeah. That’s over 2 minutes faster than my aerobic pace! But…. for a minute I can do just about anything. So I warmed up.
When it came to the first one minute repeat I dialed the treadmill in. That was an mph I had not ever seen before on a treadmill … while I was running on it anyway! I can do anything for a minute. I smiled to myself. It wasn’t like he had me doing a mile here.
So I ran.
Dare I say it felt good. It felt exhilarating. By the time it even began to feel hard it was over. Taken too soon. I slowed down the pace and eagerly awaited the ticking of the clock for minute repeat #2. (Minute, not mile).
Bam… it was time. I dialed in. I felt full of fight. I felt myself resisting it. But it was only a minute…. correct… and why was this minute going so slow?
Let go. I reminded myself. Swing the racquet. Find your resolve and let the body jump. Five seconds later the fight dissipated and I felt like I was flying. While it was only a small minute…. it was a pace I haven’t seen in years. Now anyone can hold the impossible for a minute. Bringing it to race day is what counts.
At the same time…. bringing it to race day begins here. With one minute repeats on a treadmill in the dead of winter. When the streets are too icy to do this on. Where outside would have been easier and it would have also been easier to not have done it. The streets were too icy coach….. that wasn’t going to fly with me. I am here for a reason. With this coach for a reason. Not to find the easy way.
In the very moment I stopped trying…. it came.
Saturday morning in the pool we had 100 yard repeats. 6 at a time, tempo effort. Coach gave us a rest interval but we were timing it. We are swimmers after all. We held pace for all of them and excelled the final three. Throughout the entire set …. I just let it go. Don’t think about swimming Eggers…… swim. Let it go. Let it fly.
It wasn’t that it came easier….. but at the same time it came easier. With less fight. With less resistance. I was able to lean in to the effort more. Deeper. Committed. We hit what we needed to hit and that quiet sense of confident excitement was there again. Not the kind you post on facebrag “OMG WE HIT XX:XX of THREE BILLION 100 YARD REPEATS #KONA #IAMAWESOME” …… no….. quite different. The feeling of putting a penny in the piggy bank. There is nothing to brag about when you put a penny in a bank.
Somewhere down the road however…. the pennies add up. The withdrawal is there for the taking. And you are the only one who knows about it.
That’s the kind of awesome I am talking about.
Next time you get into those efforts…. where the impossible gives you that small glimpse of what could be ahead….. lean into it. Don’t try for it. Let go and let it flow. Allow it to happen.
Just let it fly.