This week I want to share some of my tricks when it comes to peak performance in a harder workout. Last week I did my first tempo run in several years, so it was something my body and mind had not experienced in quite some time. As such, I knew it would present its own challenges. However, I'm proud to say that while I nearly lost it, the workout ended up going quite well.
As you may know, I am training for the Berkeley Half Marathon in November.* This article is the second in a series following my process as a coach and runner in training. This week's focus is clarifying one's goals and motivations when training for a race. There should be multiple goals and they should not be limited to a specific time. There are the goals around times and the process of training and racing, and there are the deeper motivations and values that push us in a particular direction.
We hear it all too often: examine your beliefs and then choose a better one! If you believe it you can achieve it! When your belief is behind your actions, anything is possible!
So just change them!
Well, have you changed them yet?
…no? Oh, but you just have to change them, it’s so simple.
It's not that simple. Changing and upgrading what we believe in and what we can have faith is not an instant thing. But it is possible, and I'd like to share one way it can happen.
For runners and everyone else who engages in any kind of physical activity, our bodies are often at the forefront of our awareness. And yet it remains one of the more mysterious aspects of our experience. Today I'd like to open a window into that part of our experience so we can better understand how to work with living in our bodies as runners and people. Since we already know how to inhabit our bodies, we'll learn what the various types of discomfort are in our bodies, what they can mean, and how to work with them.
A system called the structural differential, designed by Alfred Korzybski in the 1920s, is quite possibly the most powerful tool out there for those who wish to function effectively in our world. It provides a map of how we see the the world the way we do, and the errors we tend to make as we do so. It is relevant to running and can be used as a powerful peak performance tool, however, to do so only would be a gross underuse of its potential.
It's far too complex to adequately discuss in a short article, so all I can do here is give a quick sense that will nonetheless suffice as at least the beginning of a tool up to the task.
So without further ado, here is a quick look at Korzybski's model:
Working with my running group today, we were really struck by important it is to accept how we are feeling in the moment. This means both emotionally and physically. Some days are just harder than others, while some are just great, and others start out one way and end another. It can be dangerous to make a judgment on a day's run in the first half based on how things are in that portion, even if that assumption ends up being correct.
When managing a run there are many possibilities- indeed as many as there are in life. The variety of states we will find ourselves in is pretty immense, and its important to remember that the states aren't really that important.
How we relate to the state is the key.
Today is a quickie, with a few big ideas. My topic: fear of failure.
Just let go!
Did that annoy you a bit? Yeah, I thought so. It shows up way too often in some places, as if its a cure all and somehow easy to do. Upset? Just let go! Sad? Just let go! Disappointed?...you get the picture.
When the conversation doesn't get any more nuanced than that, then all I can think of is this MadTV sketch. So I think its time to take a look at this idea of "letting go".
I thought I'd share a great perspective I came across regarding the nature of motivation, courtesy of Bashar (you can find him on YouTube). In actuality, we are all highly motivated. We are motivated to choose what we perceive to be the closest to pleasure and the furthest from pain.
So what does this mean?
Continuing and expanding off last week's post on Improving Self Talk in Running with NVC, I'm going to focus on how we can use "negative" emotions and self-talk as cues to get ourselves back on track. This is my biggest point today: "bad feelings" are really homing beacons designed to help us get back on track.
They are telling us we are not in harmony with ourselves, with who we really are and who we really want to be.
So I propose an approach to emotions that is very different from what our culture programs us to do with them. I propose we view our emotions as simply information. When we look at them we can discover what we need to know in order to get into harmony with what we want.
Nonviolent communication (NVC) is a fabulous system designed by Marshall B. Rosenberg to transform the thinking, language, and moralistic judgments that prevent high quality relationships with your self and others. I will focus today on how NVC can be used to get yourself out there and running in a motivated and psychologically healthy way, borrowing from the book of that name.
Do you ever notice those little things about where, how, and for how long you run that showcase little bits of your personality in unique ways?
On a recent run, I went out and ran a slightly different route along Lake Merritt in Oakland. I noticed a little neurotic behavior I had not been aware of before. I was very concerned about making sure the run was still the same length as the normal route. It was as if the run would not be legitimate if it wasn't some predetermined length that I considered appropriate. As I took a look at this pressure I placed on myself, I really started to question it. What is a legitimate run, exactly?
Surprisingly enough, it turns out that "know thyself", that classic Latin epithet, is one of the most useful suggestions out there. One way that it has really turned around my life is in the ability to slow down and examine what is happening internally whenever I am in a space I'd rather not be.
Take motivation, for example. Say I'm feeling lethargic and resistant to the idea of doing something I fully know I need to take care of relatively soon. But when I try to take care of it, the resistance just rises and there is just a little flutter of fear.
Fear? That's ridiculous. Its just a little task.
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