- Humans are not resilient in nature;
- Most people would choose to stay in the ‘comfort’ zone; that’s nature;
- When grit is needed, your best chance of success is to seek support;
- With support, you will be mentally resilient and gritty so to achieve your goals.
It was a stormy morning yesterday. My Ironman training mate and I were supposed to ride 150km according to our training plan for the up-coming Australian Ironman in this May. I woke up at 5.30am as planned and realised how stormy the weather was. Not safe to ride. After exchanging some text messages with my friend, we agreed to wait until mid-day and see how the weather may turn out. According to the forecast, the storm will finish by 11am, so we could possibly do our cycle training in the afternoon. Nice! Got a training-free Saturday morning to sleep in. Hooray!
Later yesterday morning, we managed to meet up around 11.30 and did our cycle training. Although the rain was gone, it became windy; so windy that we struggled to finish our training. If you are a cyclist, then you will know your worst enemy in cycling, wind!
As planned, we did our long swim training today for 3.2km while kids enjoyed they casual swim and fish spotting. In our routine ‘celebration breakfast’ after swim, my friend was grateful and told me that he wouldn’t have done the cycle training yesterday, if I was not there.
I told him: “I felt the same!”
Endurance sports training is hard; in fact, very hard. The reason why it is hard is both physical and psychological. Physically, your brain will keep ‘telling’ you to give up because it keeps receiving those pain signals from your muscles. The famous super tough American Navy Seal boot camp would tell rookies that when they feel that they could physically, absolutely no longer to keep doing a training (such as a long-course survival swim), then it means they still have ‘room’ to keep going for at least another 30% (although they didn’t think they physically could)!
Psychologically, your brain will divert your mind and keep sending your ‘negative’ thoughts so you will give up. By this, your brain protects you from physical harm so you can survive. This psychological “defect” of human mind gives us a default option in our lives: stay in a comfort zone. So, people become lazy by nature. You can have your own definition of ‘laziness’ and I think you know what I meant here.
This psychological “defect” kills one thing that we need the most for achieving many goals in our lives: resilience and grit. Without being gritty, I won’t be able to finish training for my Ironman race in this May. I certainly won’t be able to finish 3.8km swim, then cycle 180km and run a full marathon, 42.2km on the race day.
Grit does not come when you want it. You need to train to retain it.
The grit for my Ironman training comes from knowing the fact that my friend is doing the same training and he will be there no matter I want it or not. This peer support provides the key driver for being gritty. We always joked that we were not there for training; we were there to enjoy the after-training breakfast! That thought itself has the single most powerful driver for our grit in Ironman training.
In my coaching career, I have come across a few different types of people. The first type seeks support from a coach because they know their weakness: they can’t win over their the human brain “defect” without help. The second type knows they need support but don’t want to pay for that; they want a free lunch (but tell me, where is the free lunch?). They turned to YouTube for a free solution. The third type knows that they need support but believe they can do it themselves. The fourth type don’t want to admit that they need help because they don’t believe in coaching. Some of them even think that getting career or life coaching is ‘shameful’! You need someone to teach you how to live a life? (must be joking…) The fifth type of people belongs to the group that I never met because they can really do well without coaching support.
I have clients who belong to type one and type three who returned to me some time later because they realised that they actually couldn’t do it themselves. No matter which type of person you belong to, the only thing that matters is to achieve your goals with coaching or without; either will do. Seek support and you will enjoy a better life.
To my Ironman training mate P, thanks for driving me out of my bed on weekend mornings and going through those tough and sometimes lonely training. Without you, I can’t do my Ironman training and I admitted that honestly. Let’s finish this training plan. On the first Sunday in May, we will have the longest training day and I will welcome you at the finish line before midnight (assuming that I finish before you do).
Life is better with a coach, trust me. ^_<
Dr. C. Richard Wu @ REEAConsulting.com
(NB: Do I have a coach? Yes, I do; I have two. One for my career development and one for my life quality. ^_<)