In the Moment

Recently, I gave a talk at Run and Become on the topic of ‘pushing the limits’ I was with two other athletes. Abichal Watkins 5 times completed the 3,100 mile race. Tarit Stott former GB ultra distance runner and former 24 hour national champion. (I previously blogged about this at: Pushing the Limits)

So it was a curious mix of athletes, from a thin cyclists who specialises in sprinting up steep hills, to a guy who ran 3,100 miles (it takes him about 50 days, averaging 60 miles a day)

Some Observations from the Talk.

  • Every athlete is trying in some way to push their limits, – whether it is breaking the hour in a 25 mile time trial or someone completing a century ride for the first time.
  • We were asked to give tips for being able to ‘push the limit’. Independently, we all came back to the principle of being in the moment during a race. You can only reach your potential when you are fully focused on the race at hand. Thinking about what limits you only reduces your capacity.
  • Whether it is 50 day ultra distance race or 2 minute hill climb, the best way forward is to be fully in the moment. Don’t be thinking about anything else apart from the task in hand.
  • There does come a point where physical performance relies on your inner strength. Why do we sometimes hold back? why at other  times can we get in touch with a source of inspiration?
  • For optimal performance, I suggested trying to have a completely clear mind. This gives tremendous focus. You can feel there is nothing to hold you back.  A simple technique of being aware of your breathing can help in this regard.

Dealing with Difficulties

  • If you are struggling, in a race, don’t feel bad or start judging yourself. Forget about the result or finish and go back to basics. Concentrate on your breathing or the action of pedalling. This enables you to detach from the pressing problems on your mind. Also, remember a ‘bad result’ is not necessarily bad. Self-transcendence is never a straight line.  Every experience can help in a way.
  • Visualisation can help create a strong momentum within yourself.. If you keep concentrating on stretching your limits and doing a good performance, it helps make it a reality. It is not visualising beating other people, but visualising an effort where you are getting the most out of yourself.

What is Pushing the Limits?

  • Pushing the limits isn’t just about doing a faster time / going further. Every session / race can be an opportunity to transcend our self in someway. If, after a race, you cans be happy whatever the result, that is a great achievement in itself. If we can remain calm despite a poor performance, we will have more enthusiasm and motivation to try and overcome it next time. This detachment doesn’t mean an acceptance of mediocrity. It is a striving to be the best, but also a philosophical attitude whatever the outcome.
  • There is a line between determination and obsession. Don’t lose sight of why you are trying to push your limits – which is to feel satisfaction and happiness.
  • Pushing your limits may be quite painful when doing the race. But, after there is a great feeling of satisfaction you can’t get from other elements of life. An interesting observation, Abichal made was after two months of being absorbed in an ultra race, your mind becomes cleared. You can only focus on the race, all the usual issues of life get overthrown. He said he felt great peace after his first multi-day race – but he definitely felt he earned it after going through so much during the race itself.


One Response to In the Moment

  1. Doug January 21, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

    This is another fascinating blog post, thanks Tejvan. As you say, a curious mix.

    Since I’m in London from time to time, I would very much have liked to have heard the talk; both you and the others. Perhaps some other time.

    Nice to settle down and follow your blog again; I missed it over the Christmas break.


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