In the world of sport we are bombarded with advertising at every juncture. Television adverts, famous sportsmen and women covered in branded sportswear, title sponsors of major events, product endorsed races...
Most often along with their cool logos, sports companies have a catchy little slogan, usually this ends up being just a vague statement or rhetorical question and almost always ends up involving an abuse of grammar or punctuation.
Is it in you?
Just Do It.
Impossible is nothing.
Greatness Is Built Into Our DNA.
...you all know what I'm talking about.
The most commonly recognised slogan, in my opinion, has to be that of Nike - "Just Do It.". This was conjured up for an ad campaign way back in 1988 so it has definitely stood the test of time, though until this week to me was just another random catchphrase.
In fact I had always thought of it as a slogan meant to inspire people to get off their butts and not be so lazy. From some of their adverts I know this is what they often try and get across, though the actual words "Just do it" drifted into my head this week during training without any forethought to Nike at all.
In the past few years as a triathlete I would say one of the toughest issues I've had to overcome is the feeling of foreignness in both the sports of cycling and running. As a lifelong swimmer I can almost always jump into a pool and feel pretty good, and if not good then at least "at home", but this has been a definite stumbling block in both bike and run portions of my training.
To be honest with you all however, the same issue I encounter in running especially I also encounter on a regular basis around this time of year in the pool.
I find myself swimming along and analysing every stroke I take, on each arm...every entry, every underwater phase, every exit, every stroke recovery...is all being analysed, or over analysed, by me on a regular basis.
At this time of year when everyone is "getting back into" the swing of things it does take me a while to get the feel back in the water and until then I often over stress and over think the aspects of my stroke that I should just let happen.
Now apply this to the much more foreign nature of running, a sport I have only been training in now for 3 years and the concept becomes a lot more difficult to grasp and as an athlete can feel a lot more concerning.
If you take the previous example I made of swimming, how at the beginning of each season it is important to get back into the water and regain the feel and comfort you had the season before. Well for me as a runner still learning the ropes, it is as if this process is happening for the first time. There is no "previous season" to judge how I should feel, it is the long process of learning for the first time and there is no base marker of how I should really be doing it. Each year feels different as I improve whereas in the pool I have been at (he said hopefully) a steady state for about the past 6 years.
Anyway, training this week I found myself running along the railway line 45 minutes or so into a 60 minute run in the snow and the thoughts in my head suddenly became overwhelming. I had managed to get through most of the run without stressing over positioning and technique but at that moment the thoughts which had first been about foot position had ballooned and were now covering everything from shoulder tension to breathing.
Then ... as if by magic three words popped into my head. I had heard them a thousand times before but suddenly they made sense. Made sense in that particular moment in the particular way I was choosing to interpret them.
"Just Do It."
Just shut up and run Mike.
So that's what I did. I let myself softly relax into the remaining 15 minutes I had left and began to enjoy the process of putting one foot in front of the other. I know there are a million different ways to run and there are things we all feel we need to work on, but in that moment, trying to navigate my way through 3 inches of snow in trail running shoes in the middle of a 30 hour training week probably the best thing I could do is just relax and get through it.
This applies to all 3 disciplines I train in. I often find myself becoming very fidgety on the bike, continually thinking about my position and where I "should" be. Again probably the best thing to do is just accept the fact I have 2 more hours to ride, it is NOT going to be comfortable...no matter how much I try and shift around, and just get on with it.
"Just Do It Mike."
That's what I'm trying to keep in my head these days.