How Bad Do You Want It?
It is the title of a very good book written by Matt Fitzgerald on Endurance & Performance, and the impact your mind or perception has on the results.
Not planning to make a full review of the book here, just noting a few things and telling a personal story that could be helpful.
I'm a big supporter of Mind-Over-Matter, and as the book (& research) suggests, the impact the mind has over your athletic performance is tremendous.
I like to run (a lot!) and I remember when I just started several years ago, after being able to run 10km (6.21 miles) without walking or stopping, the game changed forever! In my mind, there was now this belief that running 10k was very much possible, (at some point 5km seemed impossible).
I noticed how my average running distance went up immediately after being able to run 10k, I was now constantly passing that mark without much effort, my body was the same, I didn't gain more muscle, or lost tons of fat, the only difference was in my mind, now I believed it was something I could easily do, it was now part of my identity. (and that is very powerful, not only in sports).
One day I tried half a marathon, I was unprepared, but I just felt like my body was ready, and I did it, ran 13.1 miles without stopping, but as I said I was unprepared, arrived home and felt good because of my achievement but soon after cooling down, started to feel cramps all over my legs, and electricity-like spikes all over my body, I drank as much water as I could but it wouldn't stop.
To make a long story short, I spent the next few days in severe pain, barely being able to walk, muscles, even my back muscles ache like hell.
I couldn't understand it, I was used to running 7-8 miles a few times per week, why 13 miles did this to me.
Now after several years and many books read, I understand it, the subconscious brain will literally impair your body to prevent you from killing yourself by releasing massive amounts of lactic acid into your bloodstream.
That causes Muscle ache, burning, rapid breathing, nausea, stomach pain, among other "cool things".
Then the intense soreness I experienced for a few days, were my muscles recovering from the intense exercise. (I wish I had a massage gun or a foam roller back then!) or at least had properly stretched before and after the run.
Anyway, now guess what, after that negative experience that happened almost 10 years ago, half a marathon is my mental wall, I just don't like to get close to it, I've done it like 10 times in all those years, but I just don't like it, and I've never wanted to run a marathon, even though I'm pretty sure I'm physically capable of doing it in a great time.
I am obviously no professional athlete here, but if there's a take away from this experience I would say:
- Your mind sets the limits based on previous experiences (or the lack of them) when it comes to endurance performance (and in many other disciplines as well).
- It's not easy to "fool" your subconscious mind, after all, it's your body protecting itself.
- With the right preparation (nutrition, sleep, play a big role) and technology, you can mitigate lactic acid effects and muscle soreness. Check our product line to find the right solution for you.