That’s where I am right now: the result of a crash a few weeks back that left me with a Grade 3 tear and some wicked bruising (and a dented ego). No-one’s fault but my ow, so there’s no need to play the victim.
Not being able to Swim, Bike, Run – for any reason – can be annoyingly stressful; you want to be healthy/ fit/ fast, but you want to recover properly. You want to feel like you haven’t turned into jelly but you don’t want to do too much, too soon that you go backwards.
The toughest battle for any injury/ illness is the mental one. We have high expectations of ourselves. In our minds we are bulletproof. And yes we should aspire to be so, but we also have to face reality – even if we don’t want to.
The biggest component of this mental to-and-fro is the acceptance of what you cannot do and what you can do (instead of what you want to do).
Why focus on the stuff you can’t do? It isn’t going to change whatever situation you are in is it? Recovery is a process. One that should be treated with respect.
Drumming into your mind all the things that you can’t do just fills that space with enough negativity to make you think that you really cannot do those things; it doesn’t take long for that thoughts to create that reality. You cannot ignore the importance of that.
Every single thought whether positive, negative or neutral (indifferent) has an impact on your mental framework and therefore your ability to accurately perceive, judge and respond to situations and environments.
The more positive thoughts you have, the more of a positive outlook you will have. The better you will become at dealing with adversities.
That is not to say that when things go wrong you just stride on through unscathed, but with the right mental framework you can get through the tougher times (be it injury, illness, sub-par performance, or whatever it might be) by simply focusing on ONE thing.
What CAN you DO.
This goes beyond just being injured or sick. It is an attitude that you should adopt every day – even when your momentum is at full-steam. You should be focusing on any little thing that you CAN do.
Yeah it sounds all a bit “Tony Robbins” but at the end of the day, wouldn’t you rather talk yourself into a better state of mind rather than talking yourself deeper into a hole? The former is pretty easy, but requires persistence and focus. The latter is a slippery hole that is difficult to escape from.
When I get into that headspace – I give myself 3 minutes.
3 minutes to turn it around.
3 minutes to change my headspace.
So if you have just 3 minutes to get yourself out of a slump, what would you do?
You could go four a run or a ride but you probably wouldn’t have enough time to get that endorphin release that you are craving. So you have to start with 3 minutes of concentrating on what you CAN do. Not what you can’t, and not what you want.
I am not at stage when I am running (yet) but I can sit at my desk and spend 3 minutes thinking about how running feels; I can create as much of the experience as possible – even with my current limitations.
These 3 minutes are enough time to create a moment in my mind of what I want running to feel like and because it’s my mind, I have complete control over it.
This is awesome because in my mind, I don’t have a grade 3 tear with an extra-muscular haematoma.
My hamstring is 100% functioning. In this space my running is smooth, fluid and strong. Yeah, I am working hard – it isn’t effortless. I don’t want to create the misinterpretation that my running will feel super easy when running fast. I need to expose myself (in my mind) to how it feels running hard, with form and how well I handle it.
It is positive but it is also realistic. I don’t imagine myself running 3:30/ km and not breaking a sweat.
I make it an experience in my head so that when I can return, my brain is programmed to run the way I want to run and in those 3 mindful minutes I can achieve more running than I have in the past 3 weeks.
I repeat this 3 minutes daily.
So what? It’s not the same? It’s not real?
Obviously my body needs the actual physical stress and subsequent adaptations for development. But when that’s not an option..what else CAN I do?
Your mind doesn’t differentiate the way you think it does.
I know that a lot of athletes don’t buy into this stuff. To a degree, I can understand why – there was a time when we selling positive thinking became big business and at some point the scale of the marketability began to overshadow the science. But the science has always been there.
I am not describing anything new, or even anything extreme. And I am not suggesting that everyone stares blankly into space telling, themselves how “pleasantly splendid” everything is.
What I am suggesting is making the decision to use positive reinforcement and mindful visualisation to establish the right mental framework, and then back in it up with the appropriate actions.
Historically this stuff has been used in everywhere from Taoist Monks to CEO’s to World Champion athletes to Ninja’s to every day people. Chrissie Wellington made note of it in her book, as did Chris McCormack.
Michel Phelps, Usain Bolt, Roger Bannister, Michael Jordan….
There is a theme that ties all of these people together, and it’s more than ‘talent’. It is even more than just hard work. At any given race, you will have a bunch of athletes with very similar physical abilities, bur are will have quite different levels of mental agility.
When Michael Jordan wasn’t able to shoot hoops, guess what he was doing? Shooting hoops in his head. Before Phelps was wining Olympic Gold, he was visualising doing so.
Roger Bannister had never run a 4 minute mile before (nobody had!) but he believed he could and he used that belief to create the reality.
Anyone can create the right mindset. Anyone can visualise what they want, and how they want things to play out.
The science behind this has been somewhat dormant – definitely a result of the heavy marketing from self-help guru’s, but we are starting to see a lot of of new research emerging that supports what smart coaches, athletes, CEO’s and intuitive people have always known and understood.
And I believe that this area is something that has unlimited potential in athletic development. This is an area that Kristian and I are going to be exploring a great deal more because we understand that what holds an athlete back isn’t their physical ability – it’s their mental agility; being able to adapt and reinforce a particular mindset that correlates with their desire to succeed.
We are seeking out experts in this area, and tapping into their knowledge so that we can help develop this ‘mental muscle’ in every single one of our athletes. This is just part of our goal to develop complete athlete’s.
Everyone has 3 minutes, and everyone has the ability to change their mental framework.