Is There More? Out of the comfort zone.
In the weeks of December 2018, the EC Coaching Crew started designing one-off, key sessions for athletes to perform over the holidays (Christmas Eve/Day, NY Eve/ Day).The brief was simple: teach our athletes that there is more to their ability (mental and physical) than they really believe. The method, therefore, was simple – sessions that required higher than normal outputs, for longer than normal times. Getting them out of the comfort zone with key attributes in mind (stride rate, stroke rate, FTP tolerances etc).
These were not easy sessions, and they were designed with the knowledge that most would fail. In fact, we expected it; that was part of the objective. Why would we do that? Why train out of the comfort zone? Why give an athlete something so seemingly impossible, that they most likely would not complete the session?
To allow themselves the insight that there is more. There always is.
And mostly that more comes from the mind, rather than pure physical output, as the mind ultimately governs that environment. We wanted to see how athletes would, at first, react to the “ludicrous” sessions – some immediately went into shutdown mode, highlighting the impossibility of it all. Some – even with some hesitancy – accepted the challenge for what it was – a challenge; one with no real consequence if you didn’t “make it”.
We asked simply that each athlete turn up, put down their very best effort, and when the time came for the voices of doubt to creep in, shut them down and push on. Even if only for one more rep, one more minute.
We did this because we understand what drives the body – yes you have physiological limitations – but you also have a highly complex computer between your ears, connected to a neural network supplying the vessel that you inhabit. And that computer – in all its vastness – is still largely untapped. By that I mean, we can forge new neural pathways, by-passing old ones (the ones that lead to self-doubt, lack of self-belief) and creating a new inner-strength (for want of a better phrase).
That usually only happens when we are faced with a situation that removes us from comfort, and into a place of duress. We are hardwired to thrive under harsh conditions – it is in our DNA, regardless of where you are in athletic ability.
It’s about showing yourself that you can do more than you first thought.
Not in that wishy-washy, blindly hopeful kind of way; lacking real substance and understanding. But in a calculated, measured, deliberate way. And, it worked. Not everyone completed every session. Some fell just short, some had to adjust. Everyone found that they had more to give than they initially thought.
Sometimes, you need to show yourself these things. Not every session, every week – there is still a structure that needs to be followed. But intermittently (and especially at a time when most of the world slips into the void of complacency), you should look for snippets; moments where you are truly testing your mental ability to rise above the situation and give more.
And of course, the question, has to be asked: what’s the relevance? Why do I need to explore that?
Because it teaches you new things about yourself. And once taught, you begin to have a better understanding of who you are as an athlete and where your true potential might lay. You are learning about yourself. And that knowledge is highly valuable, come race day.
Truth: if you are not learning (or even willing to) then you are not growing. So, maybe it’s time you started searching for more?