Training Update: IN the ThiCk of iT

Aus Four Top of Mountain near Laveno
**note: Josh has asked I send on my scribbles before posting, but alas on this occasion I have rambled again and with out editing I post. Excuse any confusion, spelling and grammatical mistake.

Its been a while and I would love to be able to explain all that has happened but that would take way. Being that this is my day off I feel I should keep it short and get back to what I was doing, resting.

Since last I wrote we returned from the Munich World Cup and embarked on a bold plan to put ourselves further into the thick of things. We have been in Italy and more specifically Gavirate where we train from. My family has been here for a good part of the trip and have now travel down to the Italian coast to hang out and wait to travel to Paris then London. The contrasting experience in all this is the training we have put ourselves through and what that feels like and the moments with my wife and kids and how different and extreme these are.

As for training my goal has been to ensure that personally I operate at the highest level I can. At times I have been so tired, at times I have felt empty and drained. There have been times when my muscles have ached and twitched for hours after sessions and the only thing which has stop this has been the next session when I have asked for more from my body. My mind has wandered a times too. Some times distracted and others times I have explored thought processes. The up coming peak in London is looming and with it comes other thoughts too. My motivation has been high but not always just from internal drivers. Some times I have felt so driven from within it has surprised me and other times when I have struggled to tap into my internal energies and capacities I have been triggered by the thought of external factors. I have pushed for my team, to keep working to lead certain aspects of training on and off the water. Some times I have found my self thinking how do I do the next session and then I am reminded of what we are preparing for in 3 weeks time. The external pressure and expectation to be ready is a great driver but some times its difficult to see if its coming from within or from outside. No issue here as I have felt like any and all energy which helps needs to be tapped into and utilised.

As a group we have had some great themes playing out. As a team its still clear the individual aspect is complex and involves a huge range of emotions. Each of us has hit the wall at some stage and each of us has had to work through what this means. We have all tried to support each other where we can but some times the darkness of the cave has one feeling isolated and alone. Fatigue, frustration, pain, angry and being overwhelmed is all part of a preparation like this. In time we will all look back and forget much of the darkness as the various stories get rolled out from the memory banks.

What happens when you think there is no more? (Watch out this gets a bit weird)

This has been a reoccurring thing in the last three weeks. When there is no more, you are left with still something. At the heart of all the distortions from training, loading, residual and accumulated fatigue and effort, one things still and always remains. Self, when all else can be lost or seem so distant and dark, self still remains. Sure this is obvious but its easily forgotten. Personally I have lost my way a few times in the last weeks. I have lost my self. The physical resources required has appear to have departed. Leaving a shadow of what I thought was I. I have even found a vast distance between felt surroundings and surreal spaciousness where I have not felt like I was even there. Its like I have not been in the boat any more or on the water, or on the bike, road, ergo, the lab, the people, the surroundings have become so peripheral its scary. We have discussed disassociation and this verges on that so my response has been to first notice when this happens and then to work my way back. Back to realising and feeling all that is happening. The information is always there its just the filtering process going on to protect ones self. Unfortunately the protective nature of this leaves one exposed to making poor decisions, to not adapting, to not changing, to not learning. All this can lead to just copping rather than thriving. So when I have thought 'No More' I have simply asked, why? With this I have also opened my eyes wider, opened my mind, and opened my body up to experience what needs to happen to improve. Protecting or fighting have been the very last resorts which I have worked to notice and then responded by going deeper into the think of it all.  We as a group have discussed not using will power but rather clear intent. We have followed a path of immediate output as a driver of performance. We have been fuelled by talks of higher performance and by learning to be intentionally responsive athletes. This does not mean we have not faultier, dropped the ball, fallen, stuffed up, given in, been lost for an answer or just stuck. We have but while we have been all these things we have also come back to a number of touch points which by the way have been influenced by one of our guides, Dr Jeff Simons who has assisted us off the water in providing a common language and connection.

The final twist with all this is the idea of having 'no more' is real. Its perceived and I am sure at some point is so physical that we do have to accept the reality of immediate limitations. With 'no more' comes 'knowing more' and its only through getting stuck that we can appreciate getting un-stuck. We must hit a wall to know whats its like to pass or over come one. We must be without an answer or solution to realise what its like when we can find a way. Being in the thick of it is critical to success as its in the times of stress, loss, thickness and heaviness that we can learning, realise and appreciate another state, way or experience.

During this time I have learnt to row better and worse. I have learnt to find new ways of performing and yet failed to perform. I have learnt to push further into my capacities and at times given up. All this has happened and continues too. Soon though things will change and yes they always do. But a shift will happen when we finish or training here and head to London. Its a physical move obviously as we travel but the shift is more significant than that. The shadow of the event gets closer every day and once in London we will be on the side of a mountain which is the Games. Here we have created our own mountains but there it is created for us. We will be back in the mode of competing athletes and each day will be a step closer to the summit. Each day we will step out of our training fatigue and into freshness. We will step from the shadows into the light. More eyes will be watching our every move and with each step the air becomes thinner.

To stand on top of the peak come the Games we will have to be the best at dealing with all this while bring all of ourselves to a moment of performance bliss. To be onto will require comfort to live and breath rarified air. Its Olympic air that only last for two week ever four years. All the training and preparations are designed to ready us for a moment and by that time all that we have been through here will be a distant memory. A distant but vivid reminder and support for the performance we will produce. For now I rest because tomorrow there is more for now I have the brief respite until another thick and heavy week. Oh the joy, got to love it.


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