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Reactiveness and Taking Training Outside of the Gym or Sport

Training is the pursuit of better.

But better what?

Most people will tell you they are training for size, or strength, or sporting performance.

But is this why we started training? Is this why we continued training?

Many people discover that their training improves their life in a wider manner.

And many people find that their training becomes the only place they feel happy.

In this case training isn’t working.

Your training should improve your whole life.

It should help you as much mentally as it does physically, psychology as much as physiology.

Here’s a personal example.

I took up martial arts as a kid and have been involved in martial arts my entire life.

A lot of people say martial arts makes you violent.

Yet, the martial arts are full of stories of the “Warrior Monk” type character. A character who is well rounded, peaceful but with the potential to do violence if justified. A character who has learner self control, discipline and to choose how they react to scenarios

It is these stories in the martial arts that we hear about how this character has spent time in very hard physical training, but also practiced meditation, they choose an ascetic way of living as opposed to an aesthetic way of living.

These stories had a huge affect on me and the direction I took my life.

How does this help you?

Hopefully this carries the message that your training is bigger than the hour or two you spend in the gym, on the matt or at the field.

You spend time and energy developing physical strength, mobility and endurance. But that should be balanced by building mental strength, mobility and endurance.

Its no use having big muscles, a huge deadlift if you’re still losing your shit at every slight against you.

In training we develop a level of self awareness.

We understand that if our legs are weak, we can adjust training to build that strength and power. If our accuracy is off, we spend more time on technique and eye tracking.

Can we bring this level of awareness be brought out into the rest of our lives.

Absolutely, it's been talked about a lot over the last few years under the term “Vulnerability”

We are encouraged to be vulnerable.

Every single person who has trained and competed has been vulnerable, but not every person has taken that outside of their sporting performance.

This may be the failure of your coaches, not all sports have the stories and legends that are so common in the Chinese and Japanese martial arts.

Which is somewhat of a shame, although I will admit, there are those who really believe the martial arts stories and legends, when really they are just stories, parables that aim to point us in a certain direction rather than literal truths.

But what all sports and training environments do have are inspirational people, people we aspire to be like.

We all respect the guy who is cool under pressure, who never cracks, who always keeps their nerve.

What do they do that we don’t?

How can we get that too?

Much of it is learning to manage our own arousal, how well we shift from Parasympathetic to Sympathetic central nervous system activity.

We can imagine the CNS like the rev counter in your car. We have control over the gears and the accelerator pedal to moderate that rev counter, keep it in the zone where the car is running as efficiently as possible, with the choice of dropping a gear and flooring the pedal for an immediate bursts of power, and then backing off again as appropriate. We’d never spend all day driving around with the needle over to the right in the high rev zone.

Yet so many folk live their lives doing just that.

Do you?

Do you lose the head in a heartbeat?

Do you struggle keeping your cool?

Has your training made you more reactive or less?

Take a step back and have a think, if you’ve never done this before, it may be difficult, but that’s ok. You’re an athlete, difficult is where you thrive.

And give me a shout when you’ve had a go. I’d be interested in your answers.


Dave Hedges

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