It is now clear to us that distancing, safety measures and changing ways of working are staying for longer than we expected. It is also clear that Economies will take a long time to rebound. In short, we are looking at a world very different from what we have known.
In the following few months, these, and many more changes need to be encountered and endured.
Endurance is the result of practice & patience
Endurance is something you can develop over a period of time. If you are or you know a long distance runner or a triathlete then you know that these people actually pay money for misery. Or as one of my friends once called me ‘sucker for punishment’.
A Marathon needs you to continuously run for 3-4 hours. There are many motivations for choosing to participate in this sufferfest – but one primary motivation definitely is the sense of achievement and accomplishment we get ‘after’ the ordeal is over. You don’t just need Endurance… you need Resilience – not just for those few racing hours but much more importantly during the training – many months ‘before’ the race and during the recovery – some weeks ‘after’ the race.
As an endurance athlete, the learnings I have had during multiple cycles of this train-race-recover process seem valuable in most things I do – most definitely in times of crises.
I will share one learning once a week for 4 weeks –
When All plans seem to have failed
All endurance athletes have that one race that did not go as they planned and trained for. When the training began, you signed up for a structured plan, stuck to it in the best way – working on the nutrition, hydration and race prep. You had to continuously grind during training -if you are in India, mostly waking up at unearthly hours to access low traffic roads and slightly clearer air. That meant compromising on late nights with family and friends and basically being an outcast for a given period of time.
And then after months of disciplined effort and regular practice, something happened during the race – something unexpected and outside your control happened- you bonked, cramped or just slowed down and didn’t make the timings or worse still… didn’t even finish the race. What was that feeling? Disappointment… Frustration…Anger…
Most endurance athletes I know have encountered this. Also, most endurance athletes I know have NOT stopped running or racing because of this. They generally sweat over the disappointment for the next 2-3 days and then they are back on the road/track to do what they do best – get out there and train.
They spend very little time on the feelings/emotions and then get back to the daily grind of the practice. Mostly for two reasons – because they enjoy the process and/or because they enjoy the sense of accomplishment they anticipate in the next race.
And that is really what it takes – know that these times are exceptional – like that one unexpected race. When the Covid crisis hit, it left everyone with some of these feelings….anger, frustration, sadness, disappointment. This crisis is that unexpected race that leaves you feeling disappointed. But then as an endurance athlete you pick yourself up and “Rebound with Grace”.
Allow yourself to be challenged
In these times, keep your eye on the ‘long term’ while you deal with the ‘Here & Now’. Know that this is training and prep time for the next race – for that time when the crisis has passed and opportunities present themselves to you. Understand that disappointments are just that – disappointments. They are neither a judgement on you, nor a general trend. They happen as an exception and are outside of your control. They do leave you temporarily frustrated but Rebound is always hard. Rebound is that quiet thing which tests your strength everyday. Because you have to rebound on difficult days. And when you aggregate so many difficult days, you are quietly getting stronger.
In order to reap the benefits of this implicit strength building, you have to allow these times to challenge you physically and emotionally. Just know that these are adaptations which you are encountering in a crunched timeline. But it is these adaptations that will lead to high performance!