Sunday, 29 November 2009

Why Do You Do What You Do?

Theory to Practice got me thinking about why we train. For most of us it is probably to get back some 'hustle' having fallen in to poor physical state having followed:

1) a path of diet and exercise as prescribed by modern life (ie refined carbohydrate foods and minimal exercise), or,

2) from having followed a path of diet and exercise as prescribed by modern ideas of diet and exercise (ie low fat/complex carb eating along with chronic exercise of high volume)

We see a picture of some well-honed dude or some lean woman and we think "I want to look like that". Maybe we are going on holiday and the shame of what we might look like on the beach spurs us on similarly.

This is actually quite a limited case when it comes to those 'drivers' which push us to train and is suggestive of quite a poor state of health - much poorer than simply physical degradation would suggest. Let's be honest, if you are driven to train as a result of simple disgust at your appearance then, bloody hell, you MUST be in bad shape.

Early Drivers
The reason for my thinking can be illustrated thus. Look at infants. They are two weak to do much - but over time, instinctively, they reach a little further, roll over, learn to hold their head up, stand, walk and then run. The train 'each day', pushing themselves - and if tired, do less/rest more. Other days they play longer and harder.

This progress requires an increase in strength. No one comes up with a training program or meso- cycle for these little dudes. It is all instinctive. We are wired to move.

Now maybe this is the predator factor ("If you are being chased by a lion, you don't have to be faster than the lion, only faster than your mate!"). Maybe it is something to do with hunting - the freshest and richest food is big, strong and dangerous.

Whatever it is, for me, here is the lesson. Once again it is about listening to your body. Ignoring peer pressure or slavishly following some training plan. Sure you have to have some kind of handle on what you are doing and where you are going, but we have all become damn strong and skilled simply by responding to innate cues.

When you see an infant learning to walk, what is compelling it to keep pushing on? There is some innate desire. The TTP article illustrated a similar compulsion to do more than what was prescribed by a particular training protocol.

Those cues always seem to exist in some form. We are drawn towards physical pursuits as spectator if not participants. Think about the draw of a major football match, the Olympic 100m final, the Rumble in the Jungle. Team sports may have a tribal element that attracts, but watching Usain Bolt?

When you think of training like this, you realise how one dimensional 'shame' is as a driver for fitness. The corollary is that if you want to flip like Damien Walters, sprint like Usain Bold or hit a tennis ball like Roger Federer then make some space for this in your life. Don't be chained to some schedule or program, respond to these cues.

Remember to keep listening - if you remain healthy, injury free and motivated, then keep it up. Forcing yourself to train should be an extraordinary thing.

If you are still subject to these forces, if you still have an energy that makes you want to squeeze a bit more from life, then you are in a good place!

1 comment:

Asclepius said...

I am still not totally happy with the expression of these thoughts - save to say that true health MUST be liberation from ill health, injury and a slavish program of exercise!

Through play, our instincts prepare us to do become fast, strong and agile.

I see no reason NOT to respond to such instincts whether they tell me to 'do more' or 'rest more'.