Archive for and Life Balance

Should You Take A Break?

 

Shortly after the 2012 London Olympics, there was an article in the Wall Street Journal outlining how some elite marathoners were planning to take an extended complete break from any kind of training after the race. (A complete break...really?). In that article, one of the world's fastest runners, Bernard Lagat, was quoted as believing that "inactivity was one of the reasons for his success." He said he always "takes the time to be lazy."

That doesn't sound like the kind of relentless intensity and focus we would expect from a world class runner, does it?

Does Bernard know something we don't, or is the fact that he is an elite the reason he feels a break is justified?

What is the right approach for the average age-group athlete who has a job and many other demanding responsibilities on top of training?

It depends...

My initial response when an athlete asks me if they should take a break is usually the same: It depends.

Yes, I know that sounds like the classic "side-step," but honestly, there are a lot of factors that each of us need to consider as we decide how to approach this time of year.  We really are all an experiment of one, and the consequences of our choices will have a huge impact on what's to come.

 

Be honest: did you drill yourself into exhaustion or are you truly feeling good?

Recovery and rejuvenation come in many forms and is different for each of us. Stress comes in many forms, too, and depending on our lifestyle, work, and training goals, it can take a huge toll. Some of that stress is good, and some of it isn't so good.

The serious consequences of week-in, week-out, 3 (or 4) sport training for months on end, combined with busy, high stress lifestyles (and too little sleep) is a deep level of fatigue that for many borders on exhaustion, and in some cases, can paradoxically become addictive.

 

Consistency matters...

Even though Bernard Lagat preferred a complete break, I've traditionally believed that for the majority, a simple change from the normal training routine can be a good approach.  At the same time, as I've gotten older I'm reminded that there are few things as important as training consistency, especially as we age.  Like many things training related, there's always many viewpoints.

  • Is a "complete" break from training the best approach for short and long term mental and physical rejuvenation? If so, how "complete" is complete?
  • Could a simpler primarily unstructured approach be best, where we just go "how we feel?"
  • Is it better to turn to other activities that aren't typical for us in order to maintain some "fitness" while getting away from the sports we most often train in?
  • If we take a break, do we risk losing hard-earned fitness gains that will be difficult to regain?

Deciding in which direction to go and discussing these aspects can often generate as many questions as answers! Here are some additional things to consider as you ponder whether a break is the right choice for you...

  1. If all else fails, trust your intuition. If your gut feeling is you "need" that break, you probably do!
  2. If you have been nursing an injury, STOP now and do what is needed to determine the root cause. NOW is the ideal time to resolve injuries once and for all.
  3. The harder and longer your races, the greater the likelihood you'll benefit from some extended recovery and rejuvenation.
  4. The older you are, the smaller the margin of error you may have for taking complete time off.  To put it another way, as we age, we need more than ever to keep moving. Don't "stop" and rest just for the sake of it.
  5. The best "break" may simply be a change in training routine. For example, if you are usually on your tri-bike, put that away and get on your mountain bike or cruiser instead. If you're usually running on the roads, get off road and onto a trail. Ease off on the pace and re-establish your aerobic base at a conversational training intensity. If in doubt, try a relaxing hike, ski, roller-blade, or simply sleep in!
  6. If you're like many and could use to improve skills in some areas, now might be the perfect time. Lower intensity, and technique focused!

Whether YOU need a complete break from structured training or not depends upon you - how healthy and durable you are, what you've done over the recent past, and what your upcoming goals are.

 

Plan for recovery year round...

Planning regular periods for recovery throughout the year is arguably more important, especially as one training phase builds to the next.

Whether you're an elite (like Bernard), a weekend warrior, or a competitive age-grouper, if you've recently established some training consistency and feel mentally energized and motivated, AND you aren't carrying deep fatigue from a long season of racing and training, there is absolutely no reason to stop now simply because of the calender.

Happy trails!
~Coach Al

PS: In a series of future posts, I'm going to lay out my philosophy for how to build fitness progressively in the off season. Stay tuned.

 

 

I Don’t Care How “Talented” You Are…

 

We know that each of us is born with our own natural talent and physiological gifts. When it comes to the sports we love like swimming, biking, and running, some are more naturally gifted, having either that huge aerobic "engine" or that powerful and graceful athleticism, or both.

If you're one of those with that big "motor," winning races or your age-group relatively easily, or you're an "adapter," (someone who seems to get faster and faster despite doing relatively little training), I say...good for you.

But honestly, what really excites me as a coach is seeing the athlete who might not necessarily possess those natural gifts, but who combines a long term view and a willingness to work hard, with a relentless pursuit of the smartest training path, often achieving far more than they ever believed was possible.

While winning is great, "achieving" can mean something different and even more profound. Want two examples?

  • How about an athlete who through hard fought experience and humility, finally learns to embrace the process of evolving into the enlightened person and athlete they never knew existed within?
  • Or the person who is able to train gracefully into their 60s, 70s and beyond in their sports of choice (not just the sports they were forced into because of chronic injury)?

I believe that these smart and fortunate few are happier people, experiencing a deeper fullfillment and satisfaction, exploding whatever self-limiting beliefs exist into smithereens!

You know, none of us really ever knows just how good we can become...yet so many of us jump at the first opportunity to place limits upon ourselves. I think it's a sort of "safety net," designed to "make sure" we never disappoint ourselves.

These self-limiting beliefs are not exclusive to the average among us, either. The "adapters" suffer from them too.

For example, earlier this year I had the opportunity to meet an elite ultra-runner. After carefully examining his training routine, despite the fact that he's won some big races, I am convinced he hasn't come anywhere close to his ultimate potential. (Time will tell whether he sees it the same way).

The point is, whatever your level of participation in your chosen sport (novice, elite or somewhere in between), regardless of how much natural talent you might have, it's possible you're achieving far LESS than you are truly capable of.  From my point of view as a coach, that really sucks.

So let me ask you point blank: could it be that your self-limiting beliefs (or a confirmation bias), and not the level of talent you might have, is what's really holding you back?

Happy trails!

~Coach Al

From Olivia: Why Self-Shaming May Be Hurting Your Performance

Pursuit Functional Well-being coach, Olivia Syptak

Now that we’re more than half way through the racing season in North America, I’m seeing tons lots of updates via Facebook, email and the Team Pursuit forums highlighting early and mid-season race experiences. There are the thrills of testing fitness built over the long cold winter and spring, the excitement of crossing the first finish lines of 2015, and more often than not, a personal, self-inflicted public shaming.

That’s right. Shaming. You know what I’m talking about. It tends to show up as something like this:

“It wasn’t the time that I was looking for….” or

“I really blew my run…” or “For all the training I did I should be faster on the bike.”

Every time I read or hear statements like this in someone’s race recap I wonder, what constructive and positive purpose is this serving? I also wonder how much more joy and even how much better we might perform if we could be more supportive of ourselves.

For all that we do as athletes, the long training days, time away from family and friends, the strength training, the soreness, the mental and physical fatigue we carry from week to week, not to mention the sheer logistical puzzle of juggling our athletic lives with our work and family commitments, we need to be supportive and acknowledging of ourselves. Disparaging and judgmental comments detract from that.

Think what statements like the above could be cultivating within your mind and body. What you might be hearing yourself say, over and over, could actually be “I’m not good enough,” “I don’t have what it takes,” or worse, “people are going to judge me anyway, so I better put the judgement on myself first.” Yikes! It would be hard to get up in the morning with that going on, much less rock your best race!

You know that saying that if you want to be loved by others you have to love yourself first? What would your training and racing experience be like if you could apply that idea here?

Try making some simple changes in how you think and talk about the work you put in and your performances. Consider replacing thoughts like “I’m not ready for this race,” or “that run is going to suck” with “I deserve to have a great time out there on course and to enjoy testing my fitness.” Look at opportunities to replace insecurities with confidence in your abilities and will. Rather than thinking things like, “I’m nowhere near as fast as I want to be” opt for something like “I’ve trained thoroughly and with focus to the best of my abilities and I will race to my fullest potential today.”

After races, consider how you might document and share your experience in ways that don’t contain a judgement about yourself. Even if you had a not so great race, simply affirming “I can learn a lot from how the day went” rather than, “it wasn’t the time I wanted” stays focused on your continued development as an athlete instead of creating a judgement about yourself

How you think and talk about your training and racing for yourself and in conversation with others can shape what you experience in the future. This is not dissimilar from how you would deliver praise to a child, student, or employee. Focusing on the behavior and the way you have prepared and on your experience of the event could be much more supportive toward your improvement and continued love of sport.

Adopting a mindset and shifting how you evaluate, think about and talk about yourself as an athlete that is honest, non-judgmental, is not minimizing of the effort you put in could be could just be your performance (and enjoyment!) advantage.

~Olivia

Don’t Forsake Long Term Improvement for Short Term Gain

Coach Al sharing his positive vibe!

Coach Al sharing his positive vibe!

Happy Friday!

One of the benefits of having been a coach for so many years, is recognizing certain trends that are typical for developing triathletes, whether they are the first-timer, or the seasoned weekend warrior, or even the experienced age grouper trying to get onto the podium.

One of the most common trends I see in many developing triathletes (and I think it’s probably human nature to some degree) is the tendency to self-sabotage their ultimate chance for potential massive long term improvements in order to reach some short term gains.  

The best example of this is giving up on perfecting stroke technique in the water too early, by logging yards and yards (in the pool or open water) in order to build swimming “fitness.”

One thing I’ve said repeatedly to novices who asked (so many times it has made my head spin): Once you KNOW you can finish a swim (especially with the aid of your wetsuit), why not put all of your energy and focus into setting up your long term gain in swimming ability by working on skills relentlessly.

While many nod their heads in agreement, when push comes to shove, most forsake that advice and that approach and just go swim, mile upon mile, grooving poor skills and trashing their shoulders in the process. When they finally decide in the years to come, that their abilities are subpar and they want to go faster, they’ll be faced with the fact that they’ve now hard-wired that poor form to the point where change is nearly impossible to achieve.

What are some other examples?

  • Building running mileage with the primary goal being to make that running log look impressive (from a mileage point of view, because that’s how you get better, right?), without first identifying imbalances and weaknesses in the body and addressing them head-on.
  • Signing up for long course races (70.3 or 140.6) without first developing a solid foundation of fundamental skills and experience at the shorter distances.
  • Spending $5,000 or more on a state-of-the-art triathlon bike before even owning a road or mountain bike. And getting that “cool bike” without even possessing basic bike handling skills or experience.

There's a lot of reasons why so many athletes tend to approach things this way. Some feel they need more confidence to just "complete" the distance, and others, fired up by their newfound enthusiasm for the sport, think they can jump on the "fast track" to improvements in durability and speed. I am willing to bet that many folks just plain downplay their own potential for improvement, or sell themselves very short when it comes to how good they can actually be!

Do you REALLY know how good you can be? NO, you don't.

Truly GREAT performances (YOUR best possible potential, no one elses) are built upon a solid foundation and mastery of the basics and fundamentals.  

It takes a long time to truly get good.  And that's one reason why I encourage folks to really embrace the process and enjoy the journey.

Of course, I’m often reminded that I don’t think the way that most people think.

I guess that is true.

The thing is, most people who achieve LONG TERM success and absolutely explode their potential, going much further and getting much better and faster than they ever dreamed was possible, do it because they think like I think.

So who do you want to be?

Do you want easily achieved short term “confidence” building, or true, long term, massive gains in performance potential?

It’s up to you.

Have a great weekend everyone!
~Coach Al

 

From Olivia: Stop. Rebuild. Reclaim.

Pursuit Functional Well-being coach, Olivia Syptak

Pursuit Athletic Performance Functional Well-Being coach, Olivia Syptak

It has been quite a long while since I’ve posted here. A few months of significant overscheduling of work, the holidays, more overscheduling, on-going rehab from surgery a year ago, work related research, and hours of business development work. It completely took me away. It not only took me away from this inspired Team Pursuit world, in reality, it took me away from my “baseline standard” of living.

All that busy-ness, could have been observed (by me or by others) as discipline, dedication, or drive. It could have been labeled as sacrifice for building my dream. What I came to realize was that, in addition to making me really tired, this pattern of living was actually depleting me. It became obvious that by making the choices I was making I was draining myself of perspective and creativity. It was actually life and energy denying rather than life affirming. I was closing myself off from possibility, isolating myself from community, limiting my opportunity to recharge and maintain not only my strength by feeding my needs for connection, support, and collaboration, but also the needs of others. Bottom line:  I was diminishing my potential for fulfillment and success.

In Team Pursuit parlance, I was moving poorly and piling more and more on top of an unstable foundation. More “miles” was not going to make me perform better. Something had to stop.

So, just like what Team Pursuit athletes do when they commit to rebuilding from the ground up, I looked honestly and critically at what needed to change. I looked squarely at that compulsion from outside forces that said, “if you slow down people are going to think you’re not committed.” It was clear that a period of getting back to the fundamentals of effective and efficient “movement” in my life was essential to rebuilding my strength and stability, and to restoring my potential for optimal performance and happiness.

I cut back on the areas of my work that were sapping huge chunks of my time and energy. I reconnected with my friends and family. I recommitted to overcoming the post-hip surgery complications. I got back into my creative energy building space in the kitchen. I got outside. I spent time re-connecting with my vision for success in business, sport, and live at large. All of this was analogous to a break from running piles of miles on a broken body, and a time to rebuild foundational patterns of movement.

So now I’ve emerged! I like to think of this as my figurative “return to running.” In addition to feeling energized, and strong of heart, mind and spirit, I am “moving” so well now that even though I’m again fully busy I am doing so with a new level of consciousness and connection with how easily things can get out of whack if I don’t remain vigilant and committed to my “core.” I can now add “miles” or load knowing that I’m better able to absorb what I throw in. Work is rocking again, my body is running again, my connections are reforming. I am what might be described as “getting’ my groove back!”

We are all susceptible to this kind of thing. The allure of working harder, doing more, and driving ourselves further can get the best of any of us in any aspect of our lives, especially triathlon. But if we’re aware and notice when added stress—physical, mental, emotional—becomes counterproductive, even detrimental to our goals we have the option to stop. We can stop that trajectory, renew our strength and stability, and reclaim our future success.

Who’s with me?!

~Olivia

Can You Be Better Than Your Best?

Coach Al sharing his positive vibe!

Coach Al sharing his positive vibe!

Happy Friday! I thought I'd share a tidbit with all of you this morning, that has drawn some interest on Facebook...

An ironman triathlete I coach, in her unending quest to be a better athlete and achieve her (for now) ultimate goal of qualifying for Hawaii, asked a question on her Facebook wall, hoping that all of her friends might chime in with a "golden nugget" or two of wisdom, that would help her answer THE question.  And what was it that she posted?

"I am looking for a way to be better than my best."

Ironically, we had discussed this topic in an email exchange prior to her posting this, but she was looking for more!  Yes, she is determined!  And I love that!

So, to get to the point, I read through a litany of responses from her friends, and was amused to read all of the things that had been posted, such as "try P90x," or "dig deeper," and even "let me know when you find the answer."  At the end of a long string of responses, I posted a single word: "interesting"....

Of course, this athlete posted something which in hindsight, I should have expected: "Give me your thoughts, Coach!"

Since she had reached out and asked for more thoughts, I chimed in. Here's what I posted on her wall; I hope you all find what I had to say valuable AND interesting, and I hope you find something which applies, as you ALL embark on your own hero's journey....
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I found all of the comments your friends left, as quite interesting, that's all. You work very hard, certainly as hard or harder than many athletes out there whom you're competing with for a coveted Hawaii slot. "Digging deeper," or trying some fad training program that is sold to the gullible masses, not as a way to "train" smarter as an athlete, but as some kind of magical "workout," designed to carve a "six pack" and make you like yourself more when you look in the mirror, is NOT the answer. In my humble opinion, what you are looking for is a way to short circuit the "grind." The process. And in my experience, that rarely - ever - works.

What it DOES often do, however, is cause us to be impatient, and look for an easier, or in your case, "better" way.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending upon how you look at it) it takes a long time to get good in this sport, and we ALL have our own unique adaptive abilities, which we aren't in control of, as hard as that is to accept sometimes. Rather than look for ways to press on the gas pedal HARDER, why don't you step back, and with respect to your LIFE, take your foot off the brake.

In other words, try to see if there is a way to enjoy the process, the grind, more, by not looking beyond the task at hand.

Look for more ways to balance your life away from the sport, and then what might be the hardest thing of all - accept that IF YOU continue to train smart, work hard, recover harder, and stay the course, that you will get where you want to go......because you will.

The "problem," is that you don't get to hand pick when that will be. Life isn't like that.

Mental toughness isn't just about gritting your teeth and hammering more.....it's also about being focused on the task at hand, and not looking for any specific result from the process, EXCEPT for the process itself.

Smell the roses. Enjoy the grind. Be present. Learn every day, about yourself and about the sport. Accept that you CAN'T control much of the results of what you do, despite your desire to. And while you are working very hard, and recovering as hard as you work, just let everything else take care of itself..."
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Have a great weekend everyone!
~Coach Al

 

Team Pursuit Athletic Performance: It’s Been A Banner Year!

TEAM Pursuit Athletes at the 2013 Timberman Half Ironman triathlon!

TEAM Pursuit triathletes at the Timberman Half Ironman triathlon!

2014 was a banner year for Team Pursuit Athletic Performance.

It isn't just that we have expanded into a new training space on the top of Inspiration lane in Chester, Connecticut (with a completely new offering of classes and clinics for kids and adults in many different sports) OR that our team has grown at an unprecendented rate of speed. No, it's a lot more than just about a new training center or the numbers.

So what has made 2014 such a banner year?

Simply put, it has been the heart and soul of our team and our company, it is the people.

From novice to elite (and regardless of the sport), the person who finds a home as a member of Team Pursuit is friendly, supportive, humble, smart, compassionate, fun-loving and hard working. Our trainers and coaches are the same!

The start of the new year is a great time to reflect on why we are so proud of the work we do AND the athletes who make up our team.

So why should you choose Team Pursuit Athletic Performance?  Here are five reasons why....

  1. Fun, comraderie, sharing, hard work and achievement - together. Some teams or groups exist solely for the betterment of its leaders or to help someone else profit. Team Pursuit exists primarily to help make a real difference and empower ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things, amidst a genuine spirit of sharing, humility, fun, and comraderie.  
  2. Training for the betterment of the body, not to its detriment. Team Pursuit athletes believe that the ultimate 'goal' is to be in the game for the long term. They don't believe that any short term goal is worth sacrificing their body and damaging it for the long term. Some see training through injury as a sign of toughness, but not Team Pursuit. Many of our present day team members were once consistently injured and grew tired of it. You can read about their stories of redemption to a new better way to live and train. There really IS a better way. You CAN go faster than ever and be truly healthy too!
  3. Balance in all things. Family, sport, work, friends, community...they ALL matter and all are important for any person to lead a satisfying, rewarding, happy life. Balance might be the most over used cliche' word ever written, yet Team Pursuit athletes don't just give lip service to it. We preach it when it comes to our body and we LIVE it when it comes to how we reach higher and seek to explode our potential, on AND off the race course. Our own first-of-its-kind "Functional Well-Being" coaching program is just one example.
  4. Learning. Team Pursuit athletes might be defined most by this single concept: they love to learn! Life long learners achieve more, enjoy the training process more, and ultimately go faster too.
  5. Our staff of coaches, trainers, and sports medicine professionals is the very best available, anywhere. Rarely will you ever find the very best sports medicine advice AND professional coaching and racing expertise all under one roof. Combine those with a staff of dedicated professional coaches and trainers, and a team full of people who cherish the opportunity to reach out to each other and help, and you truly have a winning combination that is hard to beat.

2015 is going to be one amazing year!  We invite you to consider joining us on the journey!

Happy New Year to all!

 

From Olivia: How Will You Commit Yourself This Year?

Pursuit Functional Well-being coach, Olivia Syptak

Pursuit Athletic Performance Functional Well-Being coach, Olivia Syptak

As the start of the new year draws ever closer bringing with it the promise of achieving the goals we’ve set and for living according to the vision we’ve created, it becomes more important that we commit fully to those goals and that vision.

What I’m talking about here, is the agreement you make with yourself to make everything that you think, feel, do, or say, support not undermine your vision and your goals.

During Team Pursuit Reset camp in early November we talked about how committing fully to your goals is really about being completely engaged in the endeavor of reaching your goals. It’s being “all in” even in ways that you might not have previously considered to be important.

So if you’ve completed your visioning and goal setting for the coming year, the turn of the calendar year is a great time to set those intentions for what you will do, who you will be, and how you will think and feel as you navigate through your year in pursuit of those goals.

 You may know of an athlete who has a particular time goal in a race who consistently cuts all of her planned training rides short. Or you may know that athlete who plans an “A” race for the year and then decides to jump into all manner of other races leading up to the “A” race, diverting his or her focus and wearing out their body for what the race he or she says is really important. There might also be that athlete in your life who has said they want to dial back training and racing for the year so they can be more available for family, yet they continue to prioritize evening runs with training partners over helping the kids with homework and who at family and social gatherings still only talks about training and racing.

These examples may or may not resonate with anything that you’ve seen or experienced in your life, but they do show where actions, thought processes, and the way the athlete “shows up” can be incongruent with our defined goals. These examples are great illustrations of where disconnects exist between a defined goal and where some degree of commitment to those goals is lacking. As long as the dissimilar actions, decisions, and conversation persist the likelihood of athletes like these achieving their goals will be compromised.

Now let me clarify one thing. The commitment I’m talking about here is not meant to suggest that there is no place for making plans and consciously deciding to diverge from them in a manner that is responsive to your vision. Corrections and adjustments on the path are often necessary to keep us appropriately focused on and moving toward the goals we set and to ensuring that we’re reinforcing our vision. Frankly, as circumstances change as we learn and grow along the way refinement of our vision often makes adjustments to the plan and how we’re approaching the achievement necessary. The commitment in this case is to being open to course corrections and being able to assess them according to those values, what you most want and where you want to be ultimately.

So while it is important to have a clear vision of what you want as aligned with what you most value and to set goals that are truly aligned with that vision, committing to thinking, doing, talking, and feeling in ways that reinforce those values and vision is essential.

What will you commit to this year? How will you be “all in?” What does commitment and full engagement look, sound, and feel like for you? How will you keep track of how you’re doing and recommit when needed?

Happy New Year to one and all!

~Olivia

From Olivia: What Is Your Vision?

Is Visioning a Part of your 2015 Season Planning? It Should Be!

Pursuit Athletic Performance Functional Wellbeing Coach, Olivia Syptak

Pursuit Athletic Performance Functional Wellbeing Coach, Olivia Syptak

I hope everyone here in the US had a great Thanksgiving holiday last week, and that all of you in other lands nearer and farther had a good weekend!

Now that December is upon us and 2015 is drawing ever closer, we should all be getting really clear on what it is that is most important to us and that will drive our training and racing in the year ahead. At Reset camp last month we explored the importance of doing up-front visioning that would get us particularly focused on what it is that we want—in general and specifically from our athletic endeavors.

This visioning should be rooted in “the why” that drives us. This is that inner purpose behind what you do; that which is deeply important to you and which influences your decisions and choices daily, weekly, and monthly. It’s all in the name of living the way you want to, and achieving what you set out to achieve.

As you plan your next season, take the time to envision what you want, how you want to BE and how you want to FEEL as you make your way through the season. I mean really carve out some time to sit, thinking AND feeling about this. Write about it too!

Consider questions like:

  • How important is (are) the goal(s) that you want to achieve? Why?
  • What will it be like to achieve what you plan to achieve?
  • What will achieving your desired the result give you in your life?
  • Who will you be and/or what will you have when you reach your goal(s)?

Really and truly feel into these questions. Think about them, yes, but then sit with them. You know how they say that a picture is worth a thousand words? Well apply that to creating your vision. The stronger your emotional connection to what it is that you will pursue next year (and beyond) the more likely you are to get there.

So, what is the picture that you see yourself in? Bring that into sharp focus and use that as the basis for the tactical planning that you’ll do for both this off-season and next year’s training and racing season.

~Olivia

From Olivia: Do You Know How to Want?

Olivia Syptak leading the team on their journey to re-set mentally.

PAP Functional Well-Being coach Olivia Syptak, leading the team on their journey to "re-set" mentally.

We had a great Team Pursuit Reset Camp last week! What a great time to refocus and reconnect with the fundamentals of what makes us #pursuitstrong out there on the race course—physically and mentally!

We talked openly about our motivators and what drives us, and we honestly looked at what limitations we face externally or that we impose ourselves. And we considered why we do what we do.

Call it your “why,” call it motivation, or call it the fire that fuels you. Whatever you call it you should be able to identify a deeply personal reason for what you do and what you do should reflect and support what you want.

When was the last time you clarified for yourself what you want?

We are prone to spend a fairly significant portion of our lives in a state of what I call bounded wanting. By that I mean that we don’t freely let ourselves envision the life we want for ourselves. Often unconsciously, we apply limitations to ourselves when we think about what we want. And even that practice, the thinking about what we want versus feeling what we want is limiting us from really “knowing” what is most important to us—which is that force that will drive us.

Athletes who have worked with me on this have been stumped when we explore what they want. Sure they can state goals and some superficial desires, but when we try to dig deeper into what’s behind the goals they set it becomes clear that finding the really meaningful wants requires stepping into a whole new territory, one that they’re convinced is off limits! Maybe you’ve seen that place from afar too. It’s that place we all assume we’re either not allowed to enter at all, or that if we could it’s not practical, and even if we could  we won’t know exactly how we’re going to get around there so we’d better not even think about going in.

But holy cow! Once someone steps into that space, and walks around the wide open wild of unbounded wanting....amazing things happen!

It is in that openness and freedom that we get out of our heads, let go of expectations that come from others or ourselves, suspend tactical concerns, and let ourselves feel what is important. We let our hearts come out from the shadows of thinking and rationalizing and let them play. In the process our very personal “whys” come forward. We come to know what is really true for us but that we’ve held back or fully denied while we continue on a course based on the wants of some other compass.

Do you know how to want like that?

Do you know what it feels like when you do?

Do you know how confidently and deliberately you will make decisions and choices toward getting and achieving what you want when you’re clear on what that is?!

If you’re not sure, you don't.  There’s no “sort of,” or “maybe” on this. And if you don't, the foundation on which you’ll make commitments and choices may not be as firm as you think it is. That may impact your ability to get through the challenges that you’ll face in life, at work, in training, and in racing.

Team Pursuit members listen intently as Olivia Syptak guide them through the mental re-set process

Team Pursuit members listen intently as PAP Functional Well-Being coach, Olivia Syptak, guides them through the mental re-set process

Thanks to our time at camp last week, Team Pursuit athletes get the importance of being clear on their “why” as they plan next season, and as a guide for the choices they’ll make in the off season to set themselves up to achieve what they want next year. They entered that previously off limits territory.

So here I am, giving you explicit permission to enter that space, too. No matter how weird or uncomfortable it feels, stick with it. I promise you that as you get a feel for the place, you will become comfortable navigating and start to have fun with what you discover! Your intuition will guide you to where you need to be!

 

~Olivia