For a personal goal, I've been following a fun and challenging training program, authored by the Hanson Brother's, of Michigan. Over the past decade, these guys have trained some of the nation's top long-distance runners.
The training is hard. It's designed that way. If it was up to me, I'd be doing less. It reminds me of some training I've done before, where the question often was, "Why me, and when does this end?" There is a degree of fatigue that I'm not used to, yet I'm getting better, stronger and I'm having fun! Plus, I get to do an experiment-of-one and put myself through a new experience. As a coach, this is one of my best ways to learn and grow.
So, in order to do the work, I've been tapping into mental energies to stay focused, especially during the challenging tempo and interval sessions. This past few weeks I was thinking about the Serenity Prayer, which goes;
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference".
As simple as this prayer is, my brain gets confused, especially when I'm under pressure! During my training runs, I wonder to myself, "What is wise; to keep working at this killer pace, or to back off and take care of my poor body?" I think of the prayer, but it's too complicated - so I have my own version:
"If you can handle it - do it.
If you can't - screw it!"
Truth is, there isn't much that we can't handle - if we put our minds to it. Sometimes the right thing is the hard thing and most times for me, the truth is, that I need to find inner strength. I need that strength to resist fear, to free my mind - and to get on with what's in front of me.
Sure we can break ourselves and we absolutely need to focus on care, rest and recovery because they are prerequisites to success. However, next time you train hard, ask yourself - "Can I handle this?", take a moment to listen to that still small voice inside you. Learn to differentiate between a sharp pain or injury and what is simply discomfort/sensation. Take care of your body and at the same time - find out what it's capable of.
Don't immediately yield to discomfort - and don't let your monkey-brain get the better of you. Fight forward, fight hard and find your strength. It's in you!