The embodied athlete

The embodied athlete

Training Insights

Power transfer requires an open pathway. The lightening rod that carries that energy source is your body.

When athletes think of power transfer, they tend to think of it in terms of effort and tension, there is a bracing and stiffness that comes with the thought of that power output.

Now, energy is a flow, not pressure. Tense muscles shorten, preventing extension, which causes you, the athlete, to lose precious coordination. The cost of that tension, that shortening and the subsequent lack of coordination is poor power transfer.

I don't see this spoken about a whole lot in coaching circles, but as I’ve said before, our sport is an embodiment. If you can’t relax at speed, then regardless of what your numbers are telling you, there will be a lack of a sustainable ability to retain and maintain speed. If you are squeezing, you are blocking!

We are not just training to create speed and power, we are training to return it to where it came from. It’s not a one-way street. You have to get the lactate, the pain and the power to circulate in you so you become the conduit to it all. So it’s kinda like art.

Now the art of sustainability, efficiency and economy comes from your ability to transfer power without blocking the route.

That means you need to stay subtle under pressure, relaxed as you hurt, and calm as the chaos of lactate tries to drag your brain away to the pain cave. Don’t retreat into the cave, stay where you are with the pain, stay in your body, allow the feelings, allow all the sensations and don’t leave them.

Don’t let your mind abandon your body when it needs you most. Train that acceptance every time you saddle up for a session. You are a living embodiment of your performance.

Sunrise Rides
Photo by Jonny Kennaugh / Unsplash

You want to bring your body, awareness and your mind into a singular focal point of attention that creates a synergistic flow of energy and power that is sustainable.

While the conductor of that electrical current is in sync with the demand, the demand will be met and you literally become the conduit through which the power travels.

As soon as you tense up, go into mental resistance, squeeze, labour and toil, you are creating a pressure that is a plug to the flow of that power transfer, it really is that simple.

The practice is to bring the focal point back in training again and again. No matter how many times you tense up, meet it with acceptance and remind your body that it can relax and let go of that tension.

Now you are the natural conduit through which the performance will move on race day. We are pretty good as a collective at ignoring the facts that create profound athletic change.

If you don’t change something, nothing will change.