It is called “Road Kill” for a reason

During my last boxing session I boxed three rounds of two minutes each on the double end bag. It sounds like nothing, but two minutes can be a very long time… At the end I was so exhausted  my punches looked like I was drunk. I was simply trying to not quit before the time was over. At the end of the session my trainer commented: “Your hands and arms look better, but you have to work on your cardio…”

The next day I started running by an impulse that didn’t coming from my head, telling me I had to do this as a way to improve my endurance. It came straight from the body.  I said to my friends, “it is called ‘road kill’ for a reason!”, told them to pray for me and hit the dirt road.

It took only a few minutes until I noticed that my mind was producing thoughts like, “Oh my God, am I going to make it this long?” Fear immediately followed, hand in hand with tension. If I didn’t pay attention my stomach contracted. Not listening to my mind, I kept running and relaxing with every step, just like in boxing. When I have been able to bring my attention back to the very next step and relax into it hidden pockets of energy opened up.

I was running quiet nicely, even beginning to enjoy it and suddenly turned around the corner from where I could the see house. I was on the home stretch now and – isn’t it interesting? – immediately I could hardly breathe. So close to the end I allowed thoughts and emotions to come in again and take control. Staying vigilant to the end. There is no moment in time when I can lean back, just because I think I am on the home run and I have it made. Lack of attention and vigilance create road kill, not cars!

exhausted athletes

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Mental Toughness – and Relaxation

M Ali quote and picture

Boxing is my lifeline right now because it is the one thing that pushes me so completely beyond of what I think is possible, physically and mentally. And I am not even close to talking about a fight here, just the training aspect itself is kicking my butt.  I hate it because it throws me against the deepest fear and resistance in myself towards the super-effort that I have to make in every training again and again. And, I love it at the same time. For the same reason. Because it gives me the opportunity to step into a whole other domain of power and energy than the one I usually operate on.

The other day I had to do 100 punches as fast and hard as I could into the heavy bag. I couldn’t lift my arms after 60 because I stopped breathing altogether. Complete contraction in the face of survival. I realized that when I am being pushed beyond limits I automatically contract and start breathing like those were my last seconds to live. There is no power without relaxation. As my trainer commented: “You have to catch your breath faster”.

How powerful I am (and how I think I need to breathe) is a mental concept. And what is needed is a much faster recovery time. 8 seconds to completely calm down in order to move on to another drill that is even more challenging.

There is a moment of choice. I either panic – or relax, move through resistance and step into a new realm of energy that opened up for me in the training a few days ago. This is “mental toughness”, to not give my mind a chance, to just not go with it. Stay focused. “Suffer now”, as Muhammad Ali said.

I will not be the heavy weight champion of the world. (I hope not…)  I aim for being the champion of my mind, instead of the slave of my mind. And I am boxing my way there!