Athletic Patience

Training Insights

Photo by Leandro Lucas / Unsplash

Aristotle said: “Patience is bitter, but Its fruit is sweet.”

We live in an era where patience is pretty thin. In a world of instant dopamine hits and consumerism we have programmed ourselves to expect almost immediate outcomes.

Unfortunately endurance sport does not work like this. I often have athletes who come in for one off preps. I’m a coach and will help people anyway I can, but I also know athletic success is a very long term process.

If you are looking at a long term process with a short term outcome driven view, in my opinion you are headed for trouble. Having an athletic vision is great, not only that, it’s a necessity, but letting the vision drag you and becoming attached to it without adequate awareness is not the road to realising your dreams.

We need to be careful that the athletic vision doesn’t become an athletic obsession. A vision is a possibility that deep inside we intuitively know is a possibility.

An obsession is an attachment that becomes the very definition of our lives. It is very unhealthy, and I’ve seen a lot of athletes in this place. Interestingly I’m not just talking about elite pro athletes here.

Obsession has no patience, it has no space. It’s a congestion of obsessed mind space that self perpetuates itself by filling every gap it can with junk. I’m going to put it out there that, in my opinion, the two critical components for a vision is intuition and drive.

The issue is that athletes often misinterpret drive as obsession, the drive gets convoluted and becomes obsession.  Obsession isn’t very bright, it’s drives not so smart sibling.

When we look at world class athletes pumping out incredible training volumes we are not looking at obsession, we are looking at vision coupled with immense drive and awareness. “Vision doesn’t drive anywhere without awareness”.

If there is no awareness in this equation, you are never going to leave the car park. Obsession will have you believing that running around in the car park in circles at speed will get the job done.

With even the smallest amount of awareness one can see that it’s a bullshit story, because no one is at the wheel. Now this is a huge problem for athletes because we now fill up our awareness with junk.

Photo by José Pablo Domínguez / Unsplash

We spend countless hours reading about what others are doing, about the latest gadgets and analysis, and doing a great job of mind f..king ourselves over whether what we are doing is right or wrong. So let’s get one thing straight, every single thing you read is an opinion, even this.

Through the great portal of social illusion we allow our awareness to be filled with space junk that feeds the illusion of the obsession, not the reality of the vision and the required drive. The vision is getting lost in the noise of the obsession, and there isn’t enough deep rooted guttural drive that perpetuates itself in a felt sense through the key athletic element called “awareness”.

Drive and awareness allow us that other key athletic element called “the ability to suffer”. The ability to suffer comes from your ability to accept and not resist what is happening, pretty damn simple hey?

You can’t learn a damn thing about suffering by reading another article about the latest gadget that is going to buy you 10 seconds every 5 minutes, or spit your training data onto a nicely plotted graph with nice colours, especially if you are 5kgs overweight.

It takes simple awareness to know first you have to lose the 5kgs.

Awareness is a brutal task master, the intuition in awareness tells us that a vision takes time, it’s a slow burn requiring guts and heart coupled with the word that many athletes these days really struggle with, “patience”.