On Inspiration and the Performance Mindset

The other weekend I was spending my usual time scouring the interwebs for laughs, inane cat pictures, Claven knowledge (remember Cheers?), and the occasional gem of discourse or perspective. During my regular Facebook digression I saw that my friend from Texas was updating his status with his Oklahoma City marathon split times as he tried to break 4 hours. Admittedly I was looking to go for a run: Saturday or Sunday morning is my tradition long distance day, but those updates gave me extra motivation.

Flash back to four days earlier and I found myself at the first Santa Barbara Triathlon Club track workout of the 2013 season. This was my first time attending and although I had been doing weekly track workouts with my coach Zack Bertges for a couple of months I still had some apprehension. My coach and 2 of his Ironman athletes (training for Ironman Nice in June) showed up as well, all having ridden a massive hill climb earlier in the day. Their willingness to push through the fatigue and dead legs showed me a strong and immediate example of the dedication it takes to improve and succeed. I used their example during the workout, lap after lap logging mile times faster than I had run in years. I truly ran outside of my normal stride and comfort zone.

Half marathon for fun, road, beach, trails

Return to Sunday morning and I’m packing my food and hydration for my long run. I’m thinking 10 miles since my last long run was 8.5 and I’m trying to build up, but there’s a voice in my head saying half marathon: my friend Cris is out there killing 26.2. Mile after mile that example keeps coming up and when I get to the decision of whether to run home and do 10 or start another lap of the trails, I do another lap. I cruise back to the house and go a little past to make sure I get 13.1, a half marathon. I am sore and happy!

As with the track workout earlier in the week, inspiration carried the day. Sure, I’m much fitter than I was even a month ago but that’s clearly not the reason I went faster or longer. Simply put I performed at a higher level because of the physical inspiration provided by the people around me. I can hear the experienced athletes and life coaches that surround me shouting ‘No shit, Sherlock!’, but for me it’s a profound experiential lesson. It’s amazing to see myself perform 10-15% better with ease just through the presence of an inspirational example.

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