Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What's holding you back?

It's never a good sign when your swim coach uses the phrase "you're not going to like me."  It's even scarier when she uses the phrase again the next evening at bike class.

What followed in both cases were hard interval sets.  The kind of hard that really tests you.  The kind of hard that makes you wonder if you can actually get through it.  The kind of hard that I once would have briefly considered and simply said "I can't".

But, I don't say that anymore.

I've discovered a new ability within myself.  The ability to disconnect myself from the part of my brain that is screaming: "YOU IDIOT! WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO YOURSELF!! STOP THIS IMMEDIATELY!!!"  Instead of living in that part of my mind, I become an outside observer to it.  I don't shut it off, because it's important to still be aware if the tantrum turns into an "oh shit.  Something's wrong."  I listen to it, acknowledge it, and keep doing what I'm doing.

This is where it's really good to focus on technique.  To become single minded.  Thinking about swimming long and strong, or even a smaller focus, like the angle my hand is entering the water.  On the bike, rather then focusing on how difficult it is, making sure to keep my arms soft, or kicking over at the top of the pedal stroke.

It's amazing what the body is capable of, but the more I train, the more I realize what a small part the body plays.  Yes, at a given point in time, there is a limit to how far a body can be pushed, but how many of us actually come anywhere close to reaching that point?  Rather, it is almost always our mind that holds us back.  And, because of that, it is our minds that we need to train.  Our minds that we need to push.

That is why, you should periodically do things that you don't know if you're capable of.  Stop setting limits and see just what your body can do when you're willing to push your mind to it's limit.


  1. You mean like sign up for an Oly and know that you'll find a way to the finish line? LOL

  2. i never really realized how much training is actually mental. the body has limits but there's no way that we push ourselves to that point, it's always that dang brain saying that we can't!

  3. That feeling when you are outside your body and on autopilot is a strange one. You are right that you need to listen to your body though even though the pain is muffled.

  4. Oh crap, guess I can't give up and quit swimming now after reading this. :o)

  5. Its amazing how much of what we do is more mental than physical. I learned that a long time ago while in the military. Now, in my old age, my mind says go and my legs say, "are you kidding"!

  6. My brain is frequently my cheerleader (you can do this, let's go, only 5 more reps), but more often than I like tries to encourage me to do things the lazy way. I definitely find that having a starting line to show up for gives me the push to put out a better effort.

    Then again, my trainer standing over me insisting that I give her more reps is pretty effective too.