Yesterday we explored the yin and yang of being fit. The takeaways are vexing. No matter how fit you are, there are always ways to be fitter. That’s the yin and yang effect. We’re always going round in circles.
Or, when you have all the time in the world to train, it’s easy to take things for granted. That’s a genuine risk in living in places where the weather is seldom bad. there’s almost never a reason not to go outside. Training can eventually get boring and stale.
Yet the opposite occurs when you don’t have enough time to train because the weather is always crappy. Frustration creeps in. That can lead to a persecution complex.
The really nasty thing is when karma swings round to bite you in the butt. People who take great weather for granted go lax in their training or overdo it and wind up injured. Then they’re forced to sit inside on beautiful days, pinned in place by issues such as shin splints, plantar problems, stress fractures or IT band issues. That’s training karma for you.
By contrast, those of us who struggle to get outside from December 15 through February 15 because the weather’s freezing or the roads are slick and dangerous can spend so much time on the indoor trainer or treadmill we forget what it’s like to feel the actual freedom of the road under our feet. Or some folks get so taken with the digital feedback they get from tightly controlled indoor training sessions the outdoor world just feels loosey-goosey to them. Like…what’s the use in training if I can’t measure every watt of my effort?
Karma can be tough to overcome in these cases because you’re actually engaged in a fight with your own mind. Then it becomes: “The more you try the more you die.” Karma is the tarsnake of your existence.
But I’ve learned a few lessons over time about the difference between tensing up and fighting yourself in the present and learning to relax and allow the mind and body to release from its physical bonds or ruminative state.
When bike wobble hit me during a hilly ride in 2012, I crashed off the road and broke a collar bone. Later, someone told me the secret to recovery from bike wobble was actually to loosen my hands––which I can assure you is your last instinct when the handlebars and frame are swinging back and forth by six inches––and calmly pinching the top bar of the bike between your knees to effectively stabilize the reverberations.
The same holds true when running under tough conditions such as darkness or distracting precipitation. It can be hard to relax yet that’s one of the most important aspects of balance and response. The stiff and reactionary runner is more liable to trip, slip or go down to the ground.
And we all know how important it is to relax while swimming. Our breathing becomes easier and good swim form comes from learning how to be most efficient in the water.
Karma has a much harder time dragging us down physically and mentally when we aren’t our worst enemy. Fighting yourself is the biggest drag of all. And zen you’re sunk.
So you should practice relaxation techniques during training. That can mean big picture (yet simple) stuff such as relaxing about your expectations toward the weather or other conditions that impact your plans.
It can also mean learning techniques to relax in the actual events for which you’re training.
Concentrate on spinning rather than mashing on the bike pedals.
Learn to shift your stride form forefoot to midfoot to heel and alternate muscle use and pushoff.
Use drills to simplify elements of swim stroke rather than trying to manage them all at once.
All sports have their challenges and all athletes have their own form of karma that makes them even harder.
Be zen. Let karma fall away. Leave it behind. The road and water ahead awaits.