An Athletic Braille
Athletically people at times ask for something that they are not prepared for, or simply misunderstand. What does it mean to really go after an athletic goal?
Athletes have the picture in their heads of the outcome they’d like and they hold it out there like a carrot.
If there’s a problem with that it’s the fact that they do the same thing with their training, they hold the session out there like a carrot but are unclear on what it is that they are really trying to achieve from that session.
Often bamboozled in a world of ever-increasing space junk, the key messages are lost.
If you are a serious coach, I know you have seen this again and again. There is a basic requirement, right?
There’s those who execute it and those that tick it off, there is a huge difference, the ticking off is one part of a whole.
If you want a real result in the heat of battle, then you must be willing to walk into the flames of the fire, the fire that the coach sets you and the flames of your desire.
That fire is designed by the coach to burn you to the ground, the part of you that thinks it can’t, the part of you that is afraid to really let go and put your attention all the way into it. It’s designed to find you out and it’s designed to drive you out if you are not truly in it.
I’ve had a lot of people walk away who just do not have the will or the desire to truly put it out there, and you know what? It’s ok, that is totally ok, it’s not a subpoena and it’s certainly not a definition of any kind.
I always feel compassion for athletes who are looking to define themselves by what they do, it’s a road to nowhere. Even if you become a world champion, you will find it empty of definition, you are still who you are.
So, drop the carrot, drop the definition, commit to the only thing that is important in this chase, you! Commit yourself to the fabric of the athletic goal, but first understand what it means.
Physically in my programming there's a mix of underpinning aerobic capacity, pace, power and strength interwoven the fabric of this thing, so it's also going to be important to be mindful that in order to get through the week, you don't overcook the pace, keep it realistic or even slightly under do it.
Maybe just leave each effort session feeling like you could have done more, just for some insurance, always keep in mind that this is about the long-term picture, not the individual session gain.
Although session gain is important, it's only important if it maintains the consistency of the fabric you are working in, if it rips, you’re going backwards, so it’s as much about awareness as it is physical.
Don’t short change your bodies intelligence, it knows better than your ego does.
Awareness is however a whole, there is an intrinsic physical awareness that requires your non physicality and a non-physical awareness that requires your physicality. This is where athletes go wrong when they believe mental preparation is only in the mind, that somehow, it’s a bookend and separate.
No, it must take place in every moment that you are in your process.
Your coach is sending you a program, you are the programmer, you must apply the software, we can’t do it for you.
We can't root out consistency from flogging a dead horse and the build-up of fatigue can be subtle, so we are always traveling the line between pushing and recovering, keeping firmly in mind that we are not in your body with you so the responsibility for your awareness within it is solely yours.
As a coach when there are targets people are shooting for we have to push the boundaries a little, we have to shoot for super compensation and adaption, but just enough so it doesn't send an athlete over the edge, but we have no idea what is going on within the confines of someone else’s life, stress, lack of sleep, inadequate diet, under fuelling post training and a myriad of other personal factors are the corners and shadows that coaches have to negotiate blindly.
So, it’s a kind of braille that you must take from the coach and read with as much awareness to your situation as you can. You’ve got to feel your way around it.
Sometimes a tough week must be conquered more in your heart and will than in the confines of your might, brawn and mind.
When we have a hard session, we have this idea we must go to war with it, I would say unequivocally no! Don’t do it, it’s the wrong direction, it takes you away from process, not toward it.
Here is your perfect opportunity to challenge yourself to relax into discomfort. That sounds like a contradiction in terms I know but it is not, it is possible, it is certainly trainable and the long term down regulation it brings even just in terms of offsetting cortisol makes it worth the focus.
Seriously, if there is a key to this caper that I had to call out as the number one, this is it.
Relaxing into discomfort requires a deep level of imbued awareness, you can’t relax unless you are feeling right into the process that is taking place in the present moment, unless you are one with it, standing within it, accepting it.
Being at war with it requires you to stand outside of it and kick your own arse! This is not awareness, this is stupidity; it requires ignorance not awareness.
Where did we get this idea, we needed to overcome our own intuition? Perhaps athletes feel they need this overcoming mentality because they have no trust in themselves to accept the unacceptable.
Accept the unacceptable you must, standing outside of it is not acceptance, it’s resistance dressed in sheep’s clothing.
Don’t train in disassociated, it doesn’t work, I promise you that.
If you really want to be the axe then anti up, learn how to accept what is coming at you by allowing it to come, head on, come on do your worst because you know what? I’m bringing my A game!
What is the (A) game in this fabric of the whole?
The (A) game is – “Awareness”.