Monday, January 30, 2012

a warm embrace

over the last few weeks (and closely related to a number of key training sessions that i thought might kill me), I have started to tune up my mental aspect of the game. even as a young athlete, i recognized the importance of a sound mental game and confidence. i attribute some of my success in previous years to honing in on this confidence and really putting an effort into executing a performance in my mind.
i have realized that without continual practice and training, the mental game can become weak and lost.
after seeing a couple motivating and inspirational movies last week (Bicycle Dreams, Chasing Legends, and Way of the Peaceful Warrior), i have recommitted myself to becoming a sound mental athlete. the one aspect i am focused on currently is the embracement of pain. through a number of discussions with fellow athletes, i've come to realize that i'm somewhat of a pain junkie. all kinds of pain.
it's not that i like the pain itself. it's more about the way my body/mind respond to pain. on an elemental level, i feel alive when i'm testing myself or being pushed to the limit and enjoy the endorphins that flow from it. during my last hard session on the bike, a long trail run and a treadmill session, i really focused on embracing the discomfort. when it got really ugly, i started to think about how this is exactly where i want to go and what i need to feel to become stronger. i wanted it hard, harder if i could. i welcomed the discomfort. we became friends. i wrapped myself up in it like it was a blanket. breathing it in like a warm apple pie. once i stopped fighting the pain and discomfort and accepted it, i was able to allow the workout to accomplish what it was meant to. the numbers on my watch, screen and console didn't mean as much as the effort, feeling and experience. if i gave the workout all that i could in that point of time, i had won and become a better athlete because of it.

pain as experienced in sport is the great equalizer. if you push your body to the limit, you'll feel pain. some end up going a little faster, further or higher in the process, but as long as your droppin' it like it's hot, you're gonna hurt. there are some people that will never experience that.
i couldn't image living any other way. so, if your comfort zone happens to revolve around discomfort, don't worry. You're not alone. I feel your pain.

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