Chris White from Go Run Australia lets us in on his inner thoughts from a solo distance adventure. Let us know if it resonates with you as much as it does with us. It is often the scariest most terrifying path that is the one that is going to allow us to grow the most.
Each week, one of our our coaches jots down a short thought piece giving insight into elements of coaching, training, racing or mindset. This week Coach Chris talks about the importance of seeking out rather than avoiding obstacles in our training.
A couple of weeks ago, I got back on my bike to ride 640 km over 7 days around the Sunshine Coast hinterland on gravel, roads and rail trails. I had a couple of water bottles, a bag on the back of my bike with a two changes of clothes and a small bag on the front with bike repair stuff and food. That was it. I had never done anything like this before and I loved it. But not at first…
On days 1 and 2, I was stressed out. More than even when I’ve run ultra marathons or competed in Ironman events. There were so many obstacles, I felt like I had so little control and it was only me who could make these decisions. Where do I get water? Should I rest here or push on to the next place? Will I be able to fix the bike if it goes wrong? Will my phone battery last until the end of the ride?
It was stressful, exhausting and things were going wrong. I got 3 punctures in one day, got swooped by 4 magpies, lost my shoes, ran out of water, my phone battery died, I got lost, I forgot to buy food for my evening meal, I got stuck 30km away from the hotel that I had booked and it was 35 degrees. I felt like I was in way over my head and was totally overwhelmed. I’m not going to lie, by the end of day one, I was panicking and wanted to just go home and call the whole thing off.
HOWEVER…. slowly but surely as I figured stuff out, overcame little obstacles and corrected my totally rookie mistakes, I gathered a bit of confidence and a little more momentum. Each day, I made it to the end of the ride, adapted or simplified a few things, relaxed a little more and carried on.
Over those 7 days, my confidence grew, I relaxed more and my enjoyment increased. I felt less rushed, more capable and actually started to seek out little extra obstacles. Ones that even 2 days prior would have made me panic.
The whole process reminded me of the training that we do and how we actually make progression in our sport. That progression comes from overcoming the lump in your throat, the tight chest, the self sabotaging thoughts, the feeling that you are totally inadequately prepared. Overcoming these obstacles enables you to take on the next hill, the next kilometre or challenge with a little more relaxation, confidence and momentum than the last time. And so we progress…
In our sport, there are a lot of obstacles, whether thats the hills we run, the times or distances we aim for or the mental battles we engage in. But these obstacles are where the gold is found. The people who avoid the hills won’t be as strong. The people who give up on day 1 won’t experience what they are actually capable of and the people who always chose the safe goal won’t progress as much.
My advice: Seek out the obstacles, because as the author Ryan Holiday says, “the obstacle is the way.”