I have a problem … and it’s all in my head.
I’ve been an athlete my entire life and with that comes a level of competitiveness that goes far beyond what most people consider “normal”. Let’s just say I hate to lose. I mean I REALLY HATE TO LOSE. Everything I do, on some dark personal level, becomes a race, a competition with the clock or whomever I’ve chosen as my unfortunate adversary. They usually have no idea that I’m racing against them.
The poor schmo on the rail-trail that I’ve been tracking down for the past mile and a half is going down! That load of laundry is going to be folded PERFECTLY and faster than I’ve ever done it in the past. I’m going to workout everyday for a month and get super fit and strong! Nothing is going to get in my way! NOTHING!
Even from an early age I’d be trying to catch up to my older brother. My mom was a national champion swimmer and our mantra was, “It’s OK to want to win”. I believe that entirely. We should be OK with wanting to win every time out. If I got beat, it was OK as long as I tried my best.
Just wait until next time though… I’ll be ready. I’m going to work out twice as hard, run twice as fast, swim faster than a fish…. you get the picture. I’m a pretty competitive guy.
It’s all grit and determination, right?
While it’s perfectly fine to compete against yourself and imaginary opponents as we chase our fitness and health goals we all too often let our competitiveness invade and supersede our bodies need for rest and recovery. This is a huge problem. Recovery from high intensity training is an absolute necessity as part of your training plan, not an add-on afterthought to it.
A few simple, mindful reminders:
- Listen to your body: The human body is a marvelous machine with a built-in early warning system to prevent systemwide failures and breakdowns. Pain, muscle soreness, fatigue, sleepiness are all signs your body is giving you.
- No one else is watching: As much as we may think that everyone else (social media much?) is paying attention to whether we just ran 2.5 miles today or 2.7 miles the reality is that no one cares but you. You will be your own worst critic and also the only one who will keep you accountable to you goals.
- Time heals all wounds: If you are still sore a day and a half after a long run or heavy hill-sprint day they you need time to recover. The best thing you can do to improve your performance is to rest. You body is in the process of repairing and adapting to the stress you just put it through. Let it do it’s job.
- Foam core rollers are your friends. Seriously. I need to listen to my own advice.
- Stretching is also your friend…. I really need to start listening to my own advice.
We all want to live a long and fit life. Doing the little things like practicing mindful rest and recovery are integral parts of that journey. One that is far too often ignored, to our own detriment.