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Patience is Gentle Persistence & When Hard Becomes Normal

April 11, 2018



Interesting Thought: Patience is Gentle Persistence



PATIENCE is letting things happen instead of making them happen. Not to be confused with passivity, patience is about persistence. Gentle persistence. About partially surrendering to a process and being present as it unfolds. Lasting progress in any endeavor requires patience.


We're often impatient merely because we get bored, or want something desired to happen more quickly or with less discomfort. Sometimes, taking action makes sense. But there are many instances during which the best thing we can do is stick to the process and let progress unfold on its own time.


This principle is true across the board—from gaining fitness, to recovering from an injury, to learning a new skill, to sustaining a relationship.


Again: this isn't to say that there aren't times when we should make change happen. But before we the pull trigger, we'd be wise to consider the alternative: a bit more patience.


More on this topic in my latest column with Outside, where I explored patience in diet and fitness, and how the best program could be the one you're on, if only you stick with it long enough. Read here.


Coaching Corner: When Hard Becomes Normal



In the late 1950's, word on the street was that a new coach, Arthur Lydiard, was killing his athletes. No, not literally, although it might have felt that way. Lydiard was pushing athletes past the expected training norms of the day. One-hundred miles per week during the offseason with 21 mile long runs on the famed hilly Waiatarura course. Only once you completed this volume onslaught were you allowed to transition to the hill and interval phases.History reminds us that the training norm of the day was closer to Roger Bannister's 400-meter repeats during his lunch break.

A young New Zealand runner named Murray Halberg had heard the concerns. Coaches, athletes, and friends had apparently told Halberg to watch that he was putting his health at risk for attempting the training regime. After hearing all of the negativity, Halberg came up with a solution:


"I would like to remove that doubt from my psyche...I would start running as fast as I could and sustain that for as long as I could, and keep going, and keep going. Absolutely hammering myself. I finished up on my hands and knees, absolutely removing that doubt. No matter how hard I tried...I would survive. I could not kill myself."

A few years ago, Amby Burfoot, the former Boston Marathon champion, gave me a piece of advice that has stuck with me. "The best workout you can give someone is simple. Take them through their normal workout, say completing six 800-meter repeats. Then, once they finish their final rep and they are gasping for air and sure that they have completed the workout, tell them: "One more." They'll complain, but they will get it done. And they'll realize that they had more left in the tank when moments before they were convinced they were completely exhausted."

What Burfoot and Halberg were both getting at is the need to change your perspective. As Alex Hutchinson's new book Endure rightly points out, our limits are a strange combination of physiological and psychological. By occasionally pushing ourselves beyond our perceived limits, our limits subtly readjust. Our perspective shifts. What was once hard, becomes normal, or at the very least, achievable.



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