Pursuing Peak Performance

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Points of failure in all instances define the limits of systemic function. Right Practice must seek to extend those limits through the pursuit of failure… Outside the formal practice, physical training involves the pursuit of success. Within the formal practice, physical training involves the pursuit of failure.

Michael Livingston, “Mental Discipline

When we train, we must seek to fatigue the working muscle or energy system. Doing the plank, or forward-leaning-rest, focus intently on the position you are trying to hold, tight hips, legs, locked out arms, as well as tension throughout. If a break down occurs, stop. There is no honor in spastic extended effort. In your next attempt at extending your time in plank position use your previous best as your bench mark. The same goes for pushups, pullups, squats, or other bodyweight exercises. Crush the muscle group you are training, keeping body tension throughout. True failure is controlled. It still “looks” smooth and easy. Following this protocol helps with injury prevention and overtraining.

In my running/endurance training I love :30/:30 intervals. 30 seconds of very hard effort, followed by 30 seconds of easy recovery. We must hit these hard, and then back off completely to get ready for the next. The body is adapting and with adequate rest between these intense sessions our fitness builds and expands. New realities, new limits, personal bests, course records, all become possibilities with focused training and recovery.

Respect your efforts and engage in positive recovery practices, daily. The younger crowd seems to frown on stretching, until they become injured. Start your daily stretching practice sooner rather than later. With heightened levels of exertion comes increased strain on the major movers, i.e. hamstrings, groin, and quads in running. Seek to lengthen these muscles on a daily basis via a few simple exercises:

  • Instep-Stretch
  • Pigeon
  • Downward Facing Dog
  • Wide Founder (foundation training)
  • Wide Founder into Windmill (foundation training)
  • Narrow Stance Decompression Breathing (foundation training)

Work + Rest/Recovery = Training

 

 

Mindset: Practice in Pursuit of Excellence

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“Rote, mindless repetition is not practice… it is purpose that focuses the practice, and it is the intensity and specificity of that focus that governs the efficacy of the practice.”

Michael Livingstone

“The most beautiful and most profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical.  It is the sower of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms … this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.”

Albert Einstein

In my personal training practice I teach from the point that the body is a function of the mind. To make physical changes the mind must be able to manifest a vision for what leads to those changes. To simply want the endpoint, or reach the summit is a fleeting desire. Preparing to climb the mountain may lead to a successful summit, but we must start the process of preparation and mental transformation.

Learn to think of change or transformation not from your current condition, but from that of the teacher, coach, or prominent figure that has given you a image of success. What often stands in the way is this feeling of immense physical distance between the present and the future. The body is far from where it needs to be to stand on the summit and without a strong, patient, willing mind, we will never touch our physical potential.

Preparing for transformation will not leave you with a culminating completion. The path becomes the way. The journey of preparation, undertaking of challenges, completion or failure in competition can and may fill your lifetime. True devotion to the process will lead to a new mind and body, one that you can’t envision now, nor will you know where it leads you.

Understand that by seeking knowledge through purposeful practice you may never reach the summit and that will be okay. Success becomes a commitment to the self. You will never arrive or graduate to a state of completion. Know this and pursue your personal excellence anyway. Be comfortable in this knowledge and realize that possessing this level of awareness is not common in Western culture. We are taught from a young age to focus on completion and to endure the valley’s in life to, hopefully, experience its peaks: graduation, marriage, children, promotion, retirement, relaxation, and finally heaven.

“Reason enslaves all whose minds are not strong enough to master her.”

George Bernard Shaw

“The Way is To Train.”

Miyamoto Musashi