Overcome the Mind and Paddle Faster.
The heart rate rising. The person in front of me. Slowly pulls ahead. One board length. Then two. I feel my hands tensing around the paddle. My forearms tight. The paddle technique goes array. And my breath shortens. Then the voice. Begins to talk to me.
The message it delivers. Can do one of two things.
It can become my cheerleader encouraging me on. Or it can shut me down. Accepting the defeat.
Athletics has taught me a lot of life lessons.
But stand up paddling.
Has changed my mental game. On a whole new level. Especially over the past few years.
"Never lose to the person standing on your board."
This quote is one I live by. And repeat to myself when situations don't go as plan. As a coach it is the fundamental principal I share with all the athletes I work with. It started years ago wakeboarding. And has been instrumental in stand up paddling. Most specifically racing.
What does that mean and how does it apply to the scenario I described in the opening paragraph? Weeks before the event. We find ourselves checking the weather reports. Then the start list. Move to the Facebook page to digest the comments. And peruse the Instagram pages.
Our minds begins to build the story of the event. Then the night of. We do the same, now attaching to the variables that race day could bring. We wonder if we have the right board. Fin. Leash. Do we bring water? What about the electrolytes and food? Oh and that weather. Is it windy? Current?
As we lay our head down on the pillow our mind is so spun it is like we drank 3 cups of high octane coffee. Sleep is the least likely thing to occur. Then when we finally fade off. A gaze at the clock. We realize it is way too late. And when the alarm wakes us. We wish we could have rested more. Setting us back one step. The commute to the race causes us to run through the mental checklist of gear. Recheck the reports. Maybe call a few friends. Fully putting the mind on alert.
Arriving at the event the conditions look different. And then we see that person walk up to the event. With stickers on their board. Protein shaker. We begin to wonder who they are, can I beat them?
The irony to this banter and suffer fest we put ourselves through. It is way more intense than what the race itself is going to provide. The reason, we are prepared.
We put our time in on the water the weeks and months leading up to the event. Paddled in worse conditions. Paddled longer. And maybe even harder. But we let our mind lose grasp of that. And focus on whether we brought the right fin or if that girl is faster than me.
How do we prevent this from derailing us and effecting our day? Insert my quote. "Don't let lose to the person on your board."
When we train. Paddle in all the nasties conditions. And have a limit that you will not go out in. This will not change whether race day or training day. Now you have a boundary set and knowledge of what your ability can handle and what you are willing to put yourself out in.
Understand that what the mind is creating is fear based. And is not a reality. Let it build its story and talk. Stopping it is nearly impossible. But tune it out, like that person that talks your ear off on the plane. Smile. Let each sentence flow in the mind and then right out. No need to build a story based on it. It is only a thought. Nothing more.
Sit with the fear. If you are wondering what fear am I talking about. Then ask yourself why you checked the weather three hundred and eighty-seven times before the race. If you didn't then why did you change fins, boards and leashes? That is the fear I am speaking of. And the stuff you need to let that build. And make you uncomfortable. That is where you will begin to break through. As you will realize, you are trained. You are ready.
This one is the gold. Know that your mind will break before your body. You can push yourself way further than your mind will ever admit. When that person pulls away. Chase them down. Test this in training. Go a bit longer and harder on the days when the mind is saying stop. Or my favorite way. Take a 10 second cold shower. You can make it. I promise.
Over the years I have learned the power in pushing the mind. And ways to break it. Last year in Chattajack was the biggest testament. Paddling prone for my first race. Even though my mind and others said it was not going to happen. I tuned that out. And did it.
We all have this power in us. I want you to tap into it and find the benefits of mental strength. And rock that next race. Whether on the water, land or even in life itself.
It lives in all of us. Now