Thursday, August 25, 2011

Real vs Perceived Limits

When planning for a competition or an event that will test performance it is helpful to differentiate between real and perceived limits.

Real limits are those things that are either physically impossible at this time, are physically impossible permanently, are currently lacking in skill development, or are emotionally beyond reach.  There is something calming about recognizing these limits.

Perceived limits are the angst-ridden limits.  These are things that feel impossible but are possible.     These are skills that have been developed but are unused.  These are emotions with unpleasant yet inaccurate correlations.

Instead of burning energy on inner-conflict, make a list of real vs perceived limits.

Choose 1-2 alternate plans of action to "answer" attacks on real limits.

Choose 1-2 perceived limits to address per event or per season.  Practice the experience of breaking through the perceived limit.

Then go compete in the event.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Athletic performance and physical exercise sometimes result in emotional-loading.

Positive emotional loading is a lot of fun.  Endorphin rushes, a sense of accomplishment and the experience of increased physical capacity lead to good feelings and associations.

Any physical practice system that is advancing in progress will involve some of the flip-side emotional work as well.  This might be experienced as feelings of dread of an intense workout, or broad spectrum feelings of fear relating to exertion, or possibly a correlation between physical practice and self-worth.

Physical work load  and performance can be viewed pragmatically.  This eliminates some of the derailment from negative emotional associations.

Take a moment to note that:
                                              Volume of physical work is not equal to personal worth
                                              Completing a workout is a chemical process driven by will
                                              Athletic capacity increases based on consistency 

Go through a short physical check-list to make sure you are free of unnecessary tension, you are breathing effectively and that your face and jaw are relaxed.

Keep a short list of humorous events to reference when in the midst of extreme exertion.  At the moment when you most consider quitting, remember a lighter moment and consciously release tension unrelated to the actual physical task at hand.  If you manage to laugh at least you know your breathing is on track.

It should go without saying that over-training and consistently feeling run-down are not long term desired outcomes.  The creation of a healthy balance of challenging physical exertion and recovery time is the objective.  Keeping physical practice emotionally light is one way to maintain consistency.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Arch-Nemesis

How many arch-nemeses are on your list? How do you respond to their presence in your life?

Sometimes they can be used as motivators - in competition - competing against the same person year after year, using the interaction to hone game strategy and skill.

Other times they kick you where it hurts, and the way to solution is unclear, especially when in social setting.

It is possible to view an arch-nemesis as an external representation of the stuff that's hard to process internally. Instead of putting on the inner-vision blinders and pretending that the issues aren't there, the arch-nemesis provides live action proof that there is work to be done as long as the hurt stays active. These people are reminders that we do not live in a bubble.

Part of inter-relating is figuring out how to turn these conflict-oriented connections into something more productive. Did the arch-nemesis interaction highlight personal feelings of anger or reactivity or rejection or betrayal? How does the arch-nemesis likely feel in all of this? How is it easier to handle the person out there than the inner feelings of both parties?

Why is this even a topic in a fitness blog?

Its really about preventing derailment. Its about maintaining clear perspective. Its about allowing the things that are beyond control to exist while still being effective.

Arch-nemeses show up. They are going to be there. Flowery forgiveness is not often viable, especially when intuition warns against it. Arch-nemeses are some of the best indicators that we have a pulse, and are on a powerful trajectory.  Arch-nemeses assure us that we are interacting in the world, and help to alleviate the fear of offending people or making enemies, because they already fulfill that role. They keep us honest.