Archive for the ‘Reflecting about’ Category

Motivation: Chapter 1

Motivation is one of the most powerful tools we have in sports, and for that matter, in our lives too. Without motivation even the best athlete won’t reach half his or her potential, and similarly, a mediocre athlete with high motivation may well beat much stronger athletes. I’ve seen runners of all levels, from world-class champions to beginners, lose motivation and abandon races or even sports itself with no physical reason whatsoever. Motivation is essential for achieving goals and for living a full life.

When one starts to run, or to practice most similar sports, it’s easy to motivate oneself; in general we like new things and experiences. Everything’s an adventure: the feelings and sensations, the people we meet, first races, new goals, the ability to break one’s own records or to win races. At the beginning it’s easy in the same way that the beginning of a new relationship is easy – the first months or even years are exciting and new, full of the motivation and adventure necessary to continue. Later though, when the experiences are no longer new, and the excitement begins to lessen, is when you can lose the motivation totally if you don’t work at it.

As I said earlier, time itself and experiences already lived can cause loss of motivation, especially considering that in the times we live in, most people’s values are very tied in with the culture of consumerism, where new is best, and where rapid turnover is almost necessary. All too often I here people saying “Been there, done that.” or “That’s nothing new, it doesn’t interest me…” For those who live like this, those whose values are based on searching out what’s new, who are always in search of adrenaline, running or any other sport will therefore be no different. Once they have tried it all they risk demotivation. This is only one of the causes of loss of motivation – there are many more.

The runner who starts to run with his or her best friend, or always trains with the same person, can easily lose the necessary drive to continue when said partner gets injured or decides to stop training.

Many people don’t know how to balance their sports, and over train or push too hard on speed before they are ready. Over training of any sort can lead to injury and certainly to exhaustion, both of which are also cause loss of motivation.

Another major cause is lack of strategy, and failure to set realistic goals. If you’ve set yourself goals far beyond your capabilities, it’s possible that the disappointment of failing to achieve these goals will leave you totally disheartened. Those who know me know that I’m a woman who thrives by setting tough challenges – for me, if it’s easy and if the outcome is guaranteed, then it’s not a challenge. Obviously I like uncertain goals, but this said, when I set one of these gruelling challenges I prepare myself exceedingly well, both physically and psychologically, and I always ensure that there is a logical progression to my challenges. Failure to do so can lead us to failure, after which will no doubt follow a certain degree of demotivation.

Loss of motivation due to avoidable reasons often leads to abandoning the sport completely, and at times may even lead to abandoning sports in general. This same lack of motivation may also lead you to not prepare fully for a race or challenge, leading in turn not only to failure but also to injury. Less obvious, but by no means less serious is the fact that demotivation can also feed depression.

So what can we do about all this then? There are many things we can do, many tools we can use, and to do so we need to go deeper into the topic and need a lot of time, but for a start, we can look at how to try to prevent it…

Enough for today – tomorrow you can return to read Chapter 2…

Be Excellent!

Second Wind

With the mercury rising along with the humidity, one would think that I’d be suffering during my training runs and not enjoying a moment of them. The reality though is very different. I’m enjoying my running more than ever. Last week I thought that this newfound zest for kilometres was all due to the splendid company I have been keeping recently while training – Siscu, Oz, Quim and Fede – but although they are marvellous running companions, I have realised that I’m also thoroughly enjoying my solo training runs. What fun! What joy!

Lately I’ve been thriving running in the heat, the hills, in the early morning, along the National road (this is the one I really can’t understand!), and this morning running a 12 km run with the first 7 km a non-stop long, brutal uphill – I had a brilliant time! 80s music playing on my iPod, suffocating humidity, sweating like a beast, and full of joy for running…

Recently I’ve made a few changes to my plans, have taken some new decisions, and I believe that this has given me a second wind. This simply confirms what I already know, and what I always talk about in my motivational speaking – sometimes you need a change of direction in your life.

Tomorrow I’ll continue discussing all this, but now I need to stop and have my secnd shower of the day, get dressed, and then catch the train in to Barcelona for an interview on Onda Cero Radio – it will be broadcast on SatSunday.

Be excellent!

A Society of Sheep…

Use it or lose it – here I’m referring to the mind – reason, argument and the faculty of being able to distinguish between right and wrong.

We may think that our bodies are our most powerful tools, but this isn’t the case. Being an athlete, I am absolutely certain that my body isn’t what has led me to achieve all of my challenges to date. No, my mind has.  Without the mental strength that I have, without the passion I have developed, without the dedication and the determination, I wouldn’t have achieved even half of what I have. My body is simply one more tool; it’s my brain that guides it.

Our mental capacity is a luxury, a gem, and it’s what distinguishes us from the animals. That said, I do believe that we could certainly gain valuable lessons from the animals, but that’s for another article. Today I want to dedicate a few minutes focusing on the importance of our minds.

Mental power is like physical power, we can’t reach our maximum capacity without work and without exercise – we need to use it to be able to take full advantage of everything that it offers us. We weren’t born with reason, with argument, or with our minds fully prepared to analyse – we were born with the potential to do so. It’s something we have to work on. We have to learn to use this tool, to recognise the different paths of thought and logic, and later, to sharpen these, just as we do a knife. With our brains and our intellect, we must learn to question everything – society, our place in life, the laws which govern us.  We have to be able to analyse our very existence. The study of all this is called philosophy.

Another mental path is the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, to analyse the principles that govern our mental conduct. This capacity is important, and once again, we weren’t born with it. We weren’t born with the knowledge of moral principles; we have to be taught it. At least we have to be shown the path, just as in the case of philosophy – the rest is up to us.

Once we know that the possibility exists, then we can continue working our minds ourselves – it’s not too difficult once we know which direction to take. And in the times we are living in, we certainly have an infinite choice of material to study, to analyse, to contemplate, and for those who are brave enough, to try to improve.

If we can’t use this capacity, one which is inherently human, if we aren’t shown how, then we are little more than sheep. And what better for the governments of today than a society of sheep? Such a society is obedient, blindly obeys laws, doesn’t know how to question if said laws are just – and while we’re on the subject, such a society won’t dream of questioning if those who are creating those laws are at a moral and philosophical level to do so.  Sheep will vote obediently and unquestioningly, and will be content to munch on whichever grass their shepherd leads them to – they aren’t capable of questioning the shepherd as to whether there are other shepherds, or if there happen to be different pastures in this life…

Last Friday Frank informed me of a little piece of distressing news which very conveniently slipped out right when the whole world is focussed not on politics, but instead on the Olympics. The government, with encouragement from the church, has decided to remove philosophy and the study of ethics almost completely from the school curriculum.

According to El Pais “Thus, eliminating, amongst others, references to social conflicts, to gender inequality and the fight against homophobia, the main requirement of the bishops, considering them “controversial issues, and likely to fall into ideological indoctrination” says the Government’s note. The new syllabus will have much more emphasis on respect for constitutional and legal limits, and in many cases, will be replaced by much more generic content.” In other words, lets get rid of thinkers, of people capable of questioning, reasoning, of fighting for human rights and for change – lets make sure we breed a society of sheep instead.

Well that’s how our society is headed – backwards. And I’m not just referring just to Spain here, as there are few counties that actually encourage us to develop our minds. No. The best society is one made up of sheep.

We are the ones who chose our paths. Despite what is taught in schools, we are the ones that chose what we teach our children, and whether we encourage them to think and to reason.  And certainly we are the ones who chose who leads us.

Our minds are tools powerful enough to create wonders and to change lives. Use yours to better yourself and the world.

Be Excellent!

Alex Living Excellence
Alex Living Excellence
Alex Living Excellence
Alex Living Excellence
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