Dealing with the Ebb and Flow of Training
Day to day, sometimes even hour-to-hour, life can feel like a rollercoaster. One moment you are excited, focused, and maybe even proud. The next you are lacking confidence, purpose, and direction. Seeking balance, in each moment, is not necessarily a possibility. Life is hard, but this too shall pass, as each day the sunsets and each morning we are given another chance.
In training we experience these emotions as well. Sometimes, you can’t predict when you’ll have a bad day of training. It just happens. As somebody that has been training, daily, for most of my life, these unpredictable bad training days are still hard to handle, but I have learned from them. The feeling of failure, or inadequacy is part of the process of improving. We must recognize that fact even before we begin our training. Sometimes doing our best means managing poor performance, or low points, when they occur.
Training for a purpose is very effective because it culminates. There is a competition, or end-point. Each day has significance as we only have so many days to make improvements. This pressure is healthy in that it helps us focus. Willpower becomes the most frequently used arrow in our quiver. By dealing with low points, struggling through tough training sessions, and working on our weaknesses we get stronger. This strength is not felt, but is part of the process of training.
When I signed up to run my first half-marathon my only goal was to be competitive and not finish last. I was naïve, but that naivety allowed me to have no ego. When my ego was essentially taken out of the equation, I had a very clear mind during the competition. I listened to how I felt, without worry about what place I was in.
This same thing happened with my first marathon, my first 50-mile, and my first 100 mile race. Sure I had goals, but I did not have lofty expectations. The races had equal amounts of low and high emotions, but what I remember more about each are the high points. You see experience, is what we seek. We are after the process of the event, not the product of finishing.
What I realized is that you never arrive anywhere. Things begin and they end. You have good days, and bad days. You have good races, and bad races. Motivation can be high or low. What ties these feelings together is the flow of training. We learn how to deal with the realness of the situation, in the moment. Removing the ego, and expectation of a result, transformation, or lofty “product” at the end of the cycle is mandatory to staying in the game.
I’ll keep running ultramarathons until I no longer have the desire. What I’ve learned thus far is that you can’t be tied to the past… your past successes or failures, in whatever form or arena they occurred in, cannot direct your future.
Work on developing your willpower. Strengthen your mind. Focus in the moment. Self-assess when things are not going “well” or “smoothly,” and recognize that you are in it for the experience and not simply the result. For most of us, walking 45 minutes a day is a lot healthier than doing a high intensity interval workout for 15 minutes three times a week.
Create flow and you give yourself a chance to be happy. Create chaos and you’ll end up cleaning up the mess both emotionally and physically.
A strong mind does not only come from getting up after you’ve been knocked down. A strong mind comes from confronting the emotional rollercoaster that is life, and learning to master how you respond to stressful, uncomfortable, situations on a daily basis.
Never give up!