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When To Schedule Your Workouts + Calm Your Nerves By Waiting

February 7, 2018


Interesting Thought: When To Schedule Your Workout

You’ve probably heard the expression that timing is everything. Sometimes broader context and other events—often those that are outside your control—can exert a significant influence on a desired outcome. Like when it storms with gale-force winds on the morning of your marathon, or when you finish your massive business proposal only to find out a colleague in another department just presented her exactly-the-same version. While there’s no doubt that unfortunate circumstances of coincidence can affect your life, emerging science is beginning to show that the inverse is equally true. If you consciously pay attention to timing, you can dramatically improve your performance, and you can dramatically improve yourself.


“I used to believe that timing was everything,” says Daniel Pink, author of the New York Times bestseller When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. “Now,” he says, “I believe that everything is timing.”


While we give tons of thought to questions about how to do certain activities or why we should do them, we hardly give any thought to when. Pink believes this oversight is costing us greatly; if we paid more attention to timing, we’d be a lot better off. 


Evidence shows that performance on tasks that rely on physical and psychological capacity varies drastically based on the time of day. For example, a 2011 review article published in the journal Sports Medicine found that “the majority of components of sports performance—for example: flexibility, muscle strength, and short-term high power output—vary with time of day in a [predictable] manner.” Meanwhile, a 2013 paper published in Catholic Education: A Journal of Inquiry and Practice concluded that time-of-day effects can explain up to 20 percent of the variance in performance on cognitive tasks.


As for when you should do what you do? The answer depends on the type of activity you’re doing and, in some cases, the type of person you are.

To read on and learn the specifics of timing for both physical and mental performance, click through to Brad's original article with Outside


Coaching Corner: Calm Your Nerves By Waiting


“Are you nervous?” Brad asked.

“Yep, the nerves never go way,” I replied.

“Same here. Even after all this [our work], I'm still a bit nervous," agreed Brad
As we sat in the Uber, on our way to give a large keynote talk, the topic of pre-performance anxiety was, ironically, what we used to deal with our own pre-performance anxiety.

No matter how well prepared we are or how many times we’ve done it, sometimes the nerves are still there. And even though we wrote a book about how to navigate these situations - by turning anxiety into excitement, for example - there are times during which you feel anxious no matter what. For us, this was one of those times.

And then it hit us: When everything else fails, there's still one last trick up our sleeves.

“Wait until the gun goes off,” we both said, nearly at the same time. 


The minutes leading up to running a race can be pure torture. You try to fill time, distracting yourself from the impending pain and suffering upon which you are about to embark. You are well aware of the inevitable challenge you’re going to face, which is difficult enough, but then there’s also the uncertainty: “Are my legs feeling good? Is my stomach settled or in knots? Did I eat too much or too little leading into the race? Will my competitors go out too quick or will it be slow? What if I fail?”
These thoughts and many more infiltrate your mind. What can help you get through it is an important piece of knowledge: When the gun goes off, it all goes away. As you dart off the starting line, within a few moments, the fog clears and you find yourself trying to lock into a rhythm or pace. The nerves disappear and the focus on the task at hand is all that matters. As I tell my athletes, just make it to the gun going off, and you will be fine.
The same holds true for almost all other endeavors. If you are well-prepared, making it to the moment where you transition from waiting to perform to actually performing the task (for which you are conditioned) is the key.

As we readied ourselves for our keynote, our nerves rose as our impending talk approached. There’s pressure in being invited to speak as “experts on performance” to a room of full of several hundred smart, inquisitive people. As we stood off to the side of the stage, awaiting our introduction, we traded nervous smiles, probably intending to convince the other one that we were all right and ready to go. But we were both pretty nervous! 
“Welcome Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness…”
As we strode up onto the stage and launched into our talk on performance, the moment took hold. The gun had gone off. The nerves were gone. We were dashing off the line…completely in the moment...doing what we were well-prepared to do. 


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