I believe that the psychology of the athlete is the greatest frontier in training.
I’ve personally worked with loads of coaches, trainers, therapists, mentors and spiritual healers of all stripes. There is one thing that sits at the heart of everything. Our behavior. Human beings behave the same everywhere and in everything. It doesn’t matter your sport, it doesn’t matter your lifestyle, we all act and behave in very similar ways.
Consider the notion, “More is better.” From a physiological perspective, we’d all want to be capable of doing more work. We’ll train like mad to make the progress. The programming is driven towards fine tuning the performance machine and maximizing the horsepower, the force, the power and endurance. But is that at all healthy? Is it even necessary a necessary thing?
No, probably not.
The driving force behind progress is the ability to say, “I was wrong.” So, I think it’s true. We’ve stuck with those tired old methods for far too long. There is a better way to train. I believe that humility must remain at the forefront of what we do. It’s nothing new, just check Einstein’s old quote, “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.” We’ve have to keep questioning and learning. If we’re not improving, there’s little point in keeping at it.
The vast majority of the people who participate in a given sport don’t last very long. Statistics say >75% deal with a significant injury every year. I’ve been to several powerlifting meets, one of which my old man participated in just recently. I can say, he’s 65 years of age and was in a class all to himself. Tell me, how many older men and women do we see still playing the sports they loved so much when they were younger? No, not nearly enough. We have to change that.
Brian’s new book, “Unbreakable runner”
The scariest possible outcome is that these athletes, or by the looks of it our entire species, could stop moving, deteriorate, and disappear altogether. I occasionally fall into some blame game here, thinking that the baby-boomer generation is largely at fault for the vast majority of the health issues we see plaguing us today. Like it or not, this is a generation that has ground its bones more than any other to get what it’s after. “More is better” seems to be written right in its fabric.
We take things too far. Many bought into a faulty health care system, a bubble economy. For crisssakes, the cumulative stress and risk is all a little too dumb to believe. We even helped develop an educational system driven more by profit and exploitation that inspiration. The chickens are coming home to roost it seems, and it’s frustrating to witness. But I look at it like this – We are here regardless, so it’s up to us to solve this. It’s up to us to do better.
There is good news and bad news I guess. First, the good news. It is never too late to change. This is your life, not anyone else’s. No matter where you live, who you are, or what you do, you can live so well that you can affect an entire population. You can work and train with great humility, and zero fear. You matter.
No matter where you live, who you are, or what you do, you can live so well that you can affect an entire population. You can work and train with great humility, and zero fear. You matter.
The bad news, maybe, is that 10/10 people will die. The clock is ticking much faster than you realize. I know, it’s as triply as ever. No one knows the answer to that particular problem. What happens after this life is unknown, but none of that seems as important as just making the most out of our limited time here. We have to live sustainable lives so that we can perform a maximum amount of good, and we got to enjoy every last drop of what life has to offer. The PR’s will sort themselves out.
The healthiest and happiest athletes that I know are all active and pain free in their later years. You will not find them chained to their health care plans. You will not see them asking the world to resolve their frailty. No, the happy and functional will teach us just how to live and die, not how to have someone take care of us for the next 20 years because we’ve decided that eating pound cake every night with our assess embedded in the couch watching faux-news real-life docudrama’s is where it’s at.
The most helpful people are those that have managed to live long, healthy, happy and fulfilling lives. They sometimes push way too hard, but they learn from those mistakes and get far better because of it. Just like in music, the mistakes give you a learning experience that can be heard and felt for a very long time. You can wrap it up and carry it around with you. But strike the wrong chord and you will also know it quickly. As they say, “Pain is the penalty for violating the principles of Mother Nature.” You cannot push wildly forever.
“Pain is the penalty for violating the principles of Mother Nature.”
I am as guilty as anyone with this, but you have to know that more is not better, and the answer is not as simple as just doing less. It’s something you have to learn through some trial and error, always honing and sharpening that open mind. Regardless of what you do, just learn to treat it like a symphony that is going to last a lifetime, not a thrashing rock concert that might only last for a wild few years at best.
- Check out Brian’s new book, Unbreakable Runner. You can also find more from Brian at his blog Thoughts, theories and evolution.
- Make sure to watch Brian’s last appearance on Barbell Shrugged – Episode 107.
Humility is the #1 I look for in a life partner. It is a paramount trait for maturity and, as you said, longevity