My excellent web designer recommended “The Art of Resilience: Strategies for an Unbreakable Mind and Body”. A tale of a man who swam around the whole of England. The lessons he learned. He calls it stoic sports science. Mindset, training, food. An extreme version of “Move, eat, sleep”. A sports philosophy forged in battle. Based on the Greeks and Romans. The healthy mind, healthy body approach where one cannot go without the other. Combined with stoicism. Which should be the operating system of every entrepreneur.
The brain will override your physical ability to run, swim, cycle or fundamentally continue any activity and ‘shut the body down’ before you’re able to do (what the brain believes is) serious damage to yourself. Basically, the brain quits before the body. In many ways, the brain is a hypochondriac that babysits the body.
You can train your brain to become a stoic. Understanding that we don’t control and cannot rely on external events, only ourselves and our responses. How our perception shapes how we see the world around us. How the source of our dissatisfaction lies in our impulsive dependency on our emotionally charged reflexive reactions rather than logic.
It’s not about learning a lesson; it is about practising the lesson. Don’t read it, live it. It is not survival of the fittest; it is survival of the toughest. If it is endurable, then endure it. Stop complaining. If it’s unendurable, then stop complaining. Your destruction will mean its end as well. Just remember: you can endure anything your mind can make endurable, by treating it as in your interest to do so. In your interest, or in your nature.
Your body only determines your (theoretical) physical potential: essentially your lung capacity, strength, biomechanics, ability to coordinate and activate muscle fibres, joints and ligaments and many other factors that will determine how fast you run, how far you swim or how much you lift.
Equally, the mind must continue to operate when confronted with fatigue and must work hard to logically override the body’s innate, inbuilt self-preservation mechanisms and desire to slow down or stop (to maintain safe homeostasis). It’s not the thing itself that troubles you, but only your judgement of it. And you can wipe this out at a moment’s notice. You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realise this, and you will find strength.
- Studies show that strength training is one of the most effective conditioning protocols for injury prevention,
- The ability to ‘train pain’ is one of the most effective (yet most often overlooked) aspects of most athlete’s conditioning.
- Strategic application of stress (in the form of heavier weights, longer runs or faster swims) brings about the desired adaptation (making them stronger, fitter or faster).
- Pacing strategies are considered crucial for endurance.
- Fatigue is a central brain perception.
- You can train to endure pain.
- Develop the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.
- You get really, really good at what you repeatedly practise.
- Keep the heart rate at sustainable levels.
- Your mood, emotions and mental well-being can have a profound impact on your pace and resistance (and perception) to fatigue.
- The more mentally stable and robust you are, the more resilient to sleep deprivation you may be.
- Eat well. Watch your nutrients.
The tips seem very straight forward, but this is in the context of a guy who swam around the whole of England, the is 1,780 miles, for 157 days, was stung a 100 times by jellyfish, suffered from ongoing chafing and broken skin. Swam in storms, freezing waters, currents and was not sick for one day. This guy knows how to train and to prepare. Ultimately the conclusion of the book that it is all in the preparation. Of the body and more importantly, the mind. Owning it. A version of extreme leadership.
Stoic sports science indeed.