On my run today I thought about information and how we acquire it. How it takes years of learning to master a particular subject or school of thought. Not just through mote repetition and memorization of facts but by exposure to this data from multiple perspectives. At first like shining a dim light in the dark we recognize outlines and familiar shapes. An edge here a corner there. The next time we are exposed each line becomes more clear and familiar. Some of the shapes join together to form an image. Then we may overhear someone speaking about the topic or read an article about something different that somehow relates. This begins to add color to the image like painting over a sketch. The new information gives the image form and dimension. We continue like this gaining knowledge and linking it as the picture evolves. Some might say that in this analogy it naturally follows that eventually the image would become an indistinguishable mess of color and shapes like a modern work of art. But in truth at this point the real mastery has occurred. To the uninitiated eye it may seem like a meaningless blur but to the artist who created it the layers of information from the very first details are all recognizable still. It is effectively without thought that the mind now reflects. It is more of a feeling that contains the subtleties of that particular topic within it. This frees the mind to work more efficiently and solve other deeper more complex questions.
Extreme endurance training is about forming a relationship with yourself. It sounds a little strange. What does it mean to trust yourself? When the body is tested to exhaustion and experiencing pain beyond anything it has previously encountered, the way you 'interact' with yourself is paramount to the reactions you make and the ability to calmly push forward in such situations. The purpose then of training is to build confidence in your own abilities. When you get back from a run, or more aptly after a couple days to weeks of training, you should look back at the more difficult moments that you got through as moments of truth. These tangible 'tests' allow you to gauge wether you have it in yourself to get through the difficult race or adventure you are preparing for. Not only does it help build confidence in knowing how strong you are, but on the easy days when you allow your body to recover you begin to have confidence in the goals you have set out. As you begin to trust the decisions you are making, there is a calm manner of respect about you. If you make rash decisions like never going easy how can you trust yourself to train properly and arrive on game day prepared? Your development both mental and physical will reflect this and you will be defeated long before the starting line. It takes confidence to both push when you need to push and to back off when it is appropriate. Knowing when to do this is just another aspect of trust that must be fostered within yourself.
The body is extremely adaptable, but there are some us that want to know what it can do under prime conditions. Dare to take yourself seriously, so that you can capitalize on the advantage you already have. Celebrate good choices. Only you have the control over your own decisions.
When you look at places in your life that you could improve. Be it more sleep, more exercise, less stress, etc. It's important to know why you want to change. It will help to frame this change from the correct perspective. And this begins with what you call it. My brother talks about getting up earlier in the morning with regret. He wishes he could get in the habit of running before work, eating healthier meals throughout the day, and incorporating cross training into his race prep. Year after year he doesn't accomplish these things. He repeatedly tells me he thinks he should 'be more disciplined about it'. That he should be 'more disciplined' like I am. But the thing is, I don't see my focus on doing these things as a discipline. A discipline in my view is something you do regardless of why it's done but purely out of, well, discipline. To create a habit or make your existence more efficient. The closest I get to a discipline is that everyday when I wake up the first thing I do is put on running shorts. Even if I don't plan to go running. Why? Because it puts my mind in the right place so that every decision I make throughout the day is structured around improving my running experience. Once I'm in this mindset eating healthy, running early, sleeping a ton and everything else I do to benefit my training comes as naturally as waking up. The mind functions well on repetition and habit after all. If I were to call it anything it would be diligence rather than discipline. Diligence means you are taking care and being intentional about your decisions because you know the outcome will be affected.