Racing Insights

Lift, the state of zen and flow in sports, is created by focusing on enthusiasm, passion, and motivation, rather than allowing mental pressure, tension, and external noise to drain your energy and rob you of your best performance.

It’s what all athletes expect and hope for, that sense of lift in a race that will take them beyond the level of what they have experienced before. The twilight zone. The state of zen and flow that allows us to absorb the pain and fall into the silence of excellence. When we expect excellence, it creates mental pressure.

Mental pressure creates tension and tension leaks energy and drains the flow out of the performance, robbing you of the one thing you dream about. Lift! Lift is empty, lift is space, lift is the refusal to go into resistance and judgment. It’s the space where you descend into your own pain cave.

A little like a water well. The deeper you go, the more water you get out. No one can go there with you. You are alone with it. Own it and deal with it.

Now, entertaining that little doubtful Thomas between your ears isn’t going to help you lift, speaking against how it is, who’s racing, what you have or haven’t done. All of that is the noise that creates the tension in you that prevents you from the lift that you need to really take flight. So, if you want to lift, go it alone!

Don’t talk shit, don’t listen to shit, or entertain the fear stories that other people speak though their own insecurity. Stay with your experience, feel it, stay quiet, stay calm, stay relaxed and you still start to feel the energy building inside you, allow it and pay attention to that.

No amount of worry, stress, tension or double talk is going to change a single thing that is going to happen. Relax, the only thing you have power over is your internal state.

Triathlete swimming in Alta Lake, Whistler.
Photo by Susan Flynn / Unsplash

There are three intrinsic fuel rods that feed into your sense of lift. They are:

  • Enthusiasm
  • Passion
  • Motivation

If you can stay with those and refuse to leak your energy to the external noise, you will find your sense of lift is much easier to access. Ah, but I’m nervous you say.

Nerves are not the same thing as worry. Nerves whisper in our ears, hey, this is big, let’s get ready. You want those nerves, you need those nerves, they are informing you that you care.

Resist the temptation to let your mind tell you those nerves shouldn’t be there. Don’t let that nervous energy go dark, stay with it, feel it, be with the rush of that excitement. You see, that’s the mental choice we make. Nerves are either excitement or stress.

In the end, we discover as athletes that excitement is the most potent fuel source when we allow it and stay calm at the same time.

Like an archer pulling back on the bow, all the energy is in the bow and getting ready to deliver the arrow.

That’s where the lift is, in that bow right before your arrow is fired.

Fly straight!