I guess this is officially my first newsletter of 2021, so welcome back and let’s get at it!
What I’ve been thinking about this week is about habits and behaviours. SO much has been written about these recently, but as it’s a new year and we’re taking a good look at ourselves and what we want to do, be, accomplish, I figure it’s a good time to examine it.
One of the most interesting ideas I’ve heard recently is that we can’t wait for a mood, feeling, emotion or thought to compel us to do something. These things are not well understood and are even harder to control. What we have to do is to act first, and the moods, thoughts, emotions will follow. Many of us wait until we are motivated, or feel like doing something, but that is not how learning or neuroplasticity work. In order to create a new neuropathway, we need to act first. But here is the important part: we need to act with focus, and with some adrenaline in order to set the learning into motion. That is just how our brains are wired, and not by accident. If you were wandering happily through the woods and stumbled upon a stream and took a drink of cool water, you’d get a little dopamine hit, but you probably wouldn’t remember much about how you found the stream. If you were lost in the woods and dying of thirst and stumbled upon the stream, you would remember every single detail about how you got there. We are wired for survival. But, since we know what we know, is it the worst thing to hack our brains to make us better athletes, musicians, writers, leaders, … ?
Stress leads to action, leads to dopamine release, leads to learning (or behaviour change). Interestingly, our brains’ initial response at focusing on something new is to release chemicals that make us feel stressed, anxious and confused. You know the feeling – when you are reading a dense, difficult passage, or trying to learn a new chord, or starting in a new role at work. Knowing that this initial response to learning or behaviour change is going to feel uncomfortable is important. This is simply the gateway we have to walk through. Resist the urge to move away from it, but rather embrace it as the sign that you’re on the right path. It’s like the feeling in the middle a 5K when you think “oh no – this is way too intense – I have to slow down or stop” and then you remember – wait; it’s supposed to feel like that. So you don’t panic and you keep going. The stress, anxiety and confusion of focusing on something new and difficult are a good sign that you have started on the path. Don’t get turned off.
(I also think this is why racing is a great way to fast-track us to becoming better athletes. The direct focus mixed with adrenaline causes deeper learning than anything we can mimic in training.)
Eventually our internal reward system of dopamine kicks in, and we actually learn to like the new behaviour. And it becomes easier to do as we repeat it and the pathways become stronger. But just remember that starting is not easy, nor should it feel easy. I’m not sure why I find that comforting, but I do. So don’t wait until you’re motivated or in the right mood – ACT FIRST! The rest will follow.
On that note, Monica has come up with a team event which can kick off our spur to action. Don’t think too much about this – just sign up 😉 Here are the detes:
What is the LES Power Hour?
- Teams of 4, teams will be selected at random
- Simple: Run as hard as you can for 15 minutes…like, 15 minutes exactly.
- Goal is to cover as much distance as you can in those 15 minutes – so quick legs and burning lungs 😊
- Each runner will submit the distance that they ran (so I’m guessing the distances will range from 3km-6km)
- The distances of all your team members will be added together to get your team’s total distance
- The winning team will be the team that covers the most distance
- 4 people x 15 minutes = 60 minutes of running = THE LES POWER HOUR
- All legs to be completed between January 18-24
- Runners must follow provincial regulations and social distancing guidelines
- Record your run via Garmin or Strava (honour system will also be accepted)
- And remember … wear your LES gear, post to social media, encourage your teammates!!
- People who are interested please email before Sat Jan 9
- Once all names are received, teams will be selected at random. Each team will consist of 4 people
- You will have to run your leg between January 18-24
- Once teams have been created, a Google Doc will be shared with races so you can enter your finishing distance
- Winning team will be announced shortly thereafter Jan 24th
Runner 1: 15:00 for 3.00km
Runner 2: 15:00 for 4.00km
Runner 3: 15:00 for 3.50km
Runner 4: 15:00 for 5.25km
TOTAL TEAM DISTANCE: 15.75km
As for workouts for this week, I think we should go back to just getting together in groups of 2-3. I’m so sorry about this. I just want to err on the side of caution – and I don’t think this will last long.
Option 1: 4-5 x 1200 w 2 min rest (20 sec per k faster than tempo pace)
Option 2: 6 x 600 w 1:15 rest, 4 min rest, then 6 x 1 min Hard, 1 min Easy
Fartlek: 4 x 4 min Hard, 2 min easy, 4 min easy, 6 x 1 min Hard, 1 min Easy
Tempo: 3 x 8 min tempo w 3 min easy
Enjoy and hope to cross paths with some of you on the roads!