Working Out Vs. Working In.
Athletes have no issue usually when it comes to working out, but so many struggle when it comes to working in. What do I mean by that? The traditional athlete understands what it means to work out in a traditional setting, using that training session as an opportunity to improve physically while also maybe releasing some built up emotion/tension in the process. But not many athletes understand how to work in, let alone the value in doing so.
Working in is the process, often times can be through a physical workout, where an athlete uses that time to help with self discovery and understanding emotion. While working out is the release of built up emotion, working in allows the athlete to better understand why they feel that way in the first place. This requires the athlete to really sit with the emotion, something we rarely have time to do in high speed, fast paced workouts. Working in lends itself very well to longer, slower paced typically aerobic styled training like a long run. This is because the body is undergoing a repetitive process for long enough that it frees up the mind to sit with these deeper questions/feelings. Much like meditation allows us to be still with our thoughts since we have little else going on in that present moment.
Don’t believe me? March 2020 was a perfect universal highlight of this in our lives. Many of us, including myself, were living everyday of our life at the rapid pace, often working out feelings that would come up yet not solving the actual cause of them. Neglecting the value in working in brings to our life is like putting a bandaid on a bullet wound. Pointless. If we don’t address the root of our problems, how do you ever expect anything to change?
Working in isn’t popular because it is often frustrating at first. It’s a necessary step towards making worthwhile change and growth in our life. Even though most athletes know progress lies on the other side of discomfort, few are willing to take the step into the uncomfortable journey of understanding why they feel and think the way that they do. Plus, ignorance is bliss, so why pursue something you know little about the benefit of? That’s what we are about to break down here.
The benefits of working in:
-Increased ability to cope in high stress environments
-Increased ability to keep a cool head under pressure
-Increased physiological adaptations such as VO2 max as a result of more consistent training sessions
-Increased ability to focus on the task at hand
-Decreased emotional responses when play doesn’t go your way
-Decreased recovery time between training sessions and competition
All of these lend themselves to us getting into flow state (the zone) with more consistency. Flow is our peak operating state, cognitively and physically. When we are in it, hard work becomes easy and we rise above our typical abilities, often times performing out of this world.
How can we introduce working in then to increase our ability to get into flow?
Let’s explore three different ways:
- Introducing one to two distraction-less longer aerobic activities per week. This could be a long run, swim, or something as simple as a walk with no music. The key ingredient is the physical task is repetitive enough to really get into the mind body connection. This allows us to really feel what we might be struggling with in that moment.
- Intentionally placing ourselves into high stress environments and working on how we respond to it. The ice bath is my personal favorite here. The body and mind wants to go into overdrive as the systems are shocked by the temperature change. If we can minimize the shock through working inward via the breath, we can change both our psychological and physiological response to stress. This allows us to keep cool under pressure, especially when it’s unexpected.
- Bring a more mindful approach to something simple in your life. My favorite way to do this is when I make a drip coffee in the morning. This allows me to really be present in the process and appreciate the environment I’m in. Both are integral parts of flow and if we can find appreciation in the journey of a cup of coffee, we can find it in the long process of achieving our lofty goals. This allows us to also better shake off when things don’t go our way along the journey, enjoying each piece of it.
These are great places to start the journey of working in and ultimately better understanding your self in the process. The better you understand your sense of self, and how you operate, the less you let things affect you. This is integral in not letting your emotions control you.
Ultimately, working in is a limitlessly beneficial journey to better performance, growth, and quality of life as a whole. If you want to grow, you have to prioritize working in.
How will you work in this week and moving forward?
Your’s in flow,