For new readers

To get an idea of what I'm trying to do and why I think it's possible, check out the following entries, they'll help get you up to speed.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Being a Bad Ass

Ok, first of all, I don't actually think I'm that much of a bad ass.  Not really.  I just think I've gotten lucky somehow and so now might appear as one.  I've certainly taken an unlikely path - from the world of serious climbing/mountaineering/adventure (where I was proficient but not at all a bad ass compared to many climbers/mountaineers/adventurers) to the world of endurance sports.  While success as a climber/mountaineer/adventurer does depend in some small part on physical abilities, it overwhelmingly depends on mental ones.  And so my formative years were spent, even unconsciously, 'training' these mental abilities.

Over the past 10 years my life has changed.  I live about as far from mountains as one can get in the USA.  I've got a family.  And as a result i've largely given up climbing and serious adventuring in favor of ultra endurance events which offer more security, require less of a time commitment, and are easier to manage logistically.

The journey has allowed me to realize a few things.  While ultra endurance events tend to be physically harder than most serious adventuring (in terms of pure physical output), the mental challenge they present is significantly less.  Additionally, i've learned that mental supervenes physical -  mental determination is required to access physical potential.  More of the former means more of the latter.  My success in completing and doing well in ultra endurance events on what is viewed as absurdly low training volume stems from my ability to access greater levels of my physical potential than most people (I wrote about this using my peanut butter analogy).

It is also interesting to note that although the physical potential i have to work with is diminished somewhat compared to what it might be with greater training volume, the gap between where I am and where I would be (or where others are) following a traditional higher volume training program (of say 10 hours a week) is not nearly as great as one would assume.  This is due to the fact that my now one hour a week of training is done almost exclusively at higher intensities and provides excellent 'return on investment' - the minutes in my training program provide, on average, greater physiological adaptations and thus a greater fitness gain (per minute) than average minutes in higher volume programs.

These two things - the fact that i can still develop my fitness potential to a reasonably high level through consistent application of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), and the fact that i can access more of that potential in race situations because of my mental abilities - continues to enable me to do really 'hard'  things that, based on my training schedule, many people would think were impossible.

And I guess maybe that is pretty bad ass.

1 comment:

  1. I find the same is true for my primary pursuit: yoga. HOW? you ask? Well, what I find is that from years of a personal yoga practice I have a mindset and an awareness that allows me a level of focused intensity with which I can stand on my head or jump through to sitting even though I do not regularly practice these movements. My practice of alignment, my knowledge about my Self and my ability to feel how I am gives me the mental stamina focus, breath by breath, on what I am doing now, without projecting into "later." Translated into an endurance event, one more step, one more revolution of the pedals, one more paddle stroke and one more breath.

    This mind set, practiced regularly in any pursuit, allows us to settle into what we are currently doing, without becoming frantic, panicked or frustrated about what is to come. It is the relentless focusing of the mind on NOW that gets us to later - almost seamlessly. It is when we try to distract ourselves from what we are presently doing that we lose focus and become frustrated, frantic or uncomfortable whether it is settling into a pose or a 32 mile run in the Sandhills. If you think about it, all of the mental games we play while trying to get through any endurance event is just a concentrated effort on what we are doing NOW. Now I am going to just take 100 more steps. NOW I am just going to keep going for one more block. NOW I am going to take one more breath.

    The mind is a terrible master, but an excellent servant" - David Wallace Foster