A Way of Reasoning
In sports science, measuring things is easy. The real skill lies in interpreting whether the data actually translates into meaningful change/action.” – Steve Magness
If coaching can be defined as “a blend of art and science,” I put more emphasis on the “art” than most. I believe we’re already oversaturated with data and advice on the science of peak performance and the jargon that goes with it. I prefer to tap into my understanding of human nature… and my infectious enthusiasm! In my experience, a few choice words from a trusted coach can inspire an athlete to exceed everyone’s expectations on race day, far more than even the most sophisticated data dump.
Of course, your training should be based on scientific principles! While meticulous planning, scientific testing, and monitoring all have their place, they can’t give us a complete picture of our true, innate running ability. By over-focusing on tangible physiological benchmarks, we often overlook the intangibles. These are the psychological, spiritual, and even mystical factors that allow us to tap into our energies and unlock our hidden potential.
You cannot train alone and expect to run a fast time. There is a formula: 100% of me is nothing compared to 1% of the whole team. And that’s teamwork. That’s what I value.” – Eliud Kipchoge
True understanding of a person’s nature arises from the heart. Science has a firm bias against the hearts feelings, for, as scientists point out, the emotions are in one way or another, biased. The deep calm feeling of the heart however is the only tool we have that we can rely on.” – Swami Kriyananda
Do you ever experience running as nourishing the higher part of yourself rather than running to achieve results? When you do something well, or endure something difficult, do you ever reward yourself with a run?
How high a value do you place on sportsmanship, cooperation, and teamwork? In today’s highly competitive, commercialized, corporate world, aspiring to these ideals can be complicated. Years ago, when I let winning and losing define my life, I had rough time. It wasn’t until I let go of looking good, final outcomes, beating my previous times or another person, that my self-confidence bloomed. I continued to compete hard of course… but not too hard.
The physiological affects of positive emotions such as caring, compassion or appreciation for someone or something can go a long way in helping people reduce their risky training behaviors. These heart-brain interactions actually cohere and soften the heart, which processes the good feelings and circulates positive information throughout the entire body. All this adds up to a heightened sensitivity to what works for us the basic self-awareness so important to optimal health, performance and enjoyment.
Breathing is so conspicuous. We feel it. We see it (albeit indirectly). Sometimes we can even hear it. We don’t notice the megawatts of nerve impulses zipping through our bodies or the coursing hormones carrying their messages.” – Bud Coates
There was a time when I thought breathing was not something that needed to be practiced because it came so naturally to me. In those days my ideas were biased by my own experience. Over time I became more aware of how many people do not breathe effectively which limits the ability of their blood to convey oxygen to the working muscles.
Tracking the breath consciously is a basic life-skill that makes all the other techniques possible. At first, you may find that the breath is only faintly perceptible. Where does it come from and where does it go? The object is to simply stay in touch with the breathing action and the physical sensations in your body. Soon you can sense the moment of change from inhalation to exhalation.
The beauty of breathing smarter is that it eliminates overly hard work by slowing down the shift from one intensity zone to the next — which means your heart rate will stay lower. Shallow breathing leaves a residue of carbon dioxide in the lungs that limit the amount of air that can enter on the subsequent inhalation. To fully aerate the lungs, we need to breathe more like swimmers who expel all the air from their lungs every 2-3 strokes.
Run in Health
The ideal amount of intensity of training and the time it takes to affect the body positively varies greatly from person to person, depending on their overall health and wellbeing.”- Art
We’re all familiar with how much stress can arise due to competing demands on our time and attention. The time we spend running should help counteract these tensions by putting them in perspective and making them manageable.
The word “recover” means to regain health and balance. People often make the mistake of racing too frequently without adequately recovering from their hard efforts. Consequently, they fail to regain the good form and fitness they had built up through training. This often results in injury, disillusionment, or worst of all, giving up on running altogether. The inherent risk of these pitfalls increases markedly when you are running and racing at speeds/distances that are too far beyond your comfort zone.
If we’re really paying attention, we know when our running/racing regimen is putting too big a squeeze on our lives. The resulting stress may actually overshadow the health benefits of running. The good news is that burnout and injury are not an inevitable consequence of training hard; the solution can be as simple as prioritizing the workouts that give us the most satisfaction.