I have always been a thinker. I overanalyze literally everything like it’s my job.
In many respects, this is a trait that has served me well, especially academically and professionally. But athletically? Not always.
During my four years at Wheaton I obsessed over details on the track. I thought out each individual move I was asked to make. I went beyond simple directions and critiques, often seeking out nuances and indiscriminate variances that were; I’m pretty sure, irrelevant to the actual task at hand.
Nothing was ever an easy fix. I would get so hung up on trying to execute something perfectly, that 9 times out of 10, I stood in my own way and prevented myself from doing the very things I was attempting.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told to ‘stop thinking’. To be fair, I did try- at least I thought I tried. The truth is, in college I had the luxury of still being able to get by successfully without making all of the changes that I really needed to.
Flash forward to my first blocks session (ever) with my coach, Stu McMillan. If you’ve ever met him, or are fortunate enough to get the opportunity to work with him, you’ll quickly learn that there is no such thing as ‘getting by’.
So imagine me under Stu’s careful eye trying to remember which pedal I put in front (I got it wrong the first time).
This was my first real blocks practice. What was I going to do? Get stuck in my head, talk myself out of it, cry (for everyone who knows me- yes, this used to be an option), try to sift through and pick apart each instruction given to me in regards to hand placement, head positioning, lifting my hips, not sinking, pushing out etc. etc.
Or just do it?
Hands closer together. Closer. Got it. No questions. Shoulders forward. Done. Inhale. Create space between your chest and the ground- release the tension in your shoulders. Easy. Let your head follow your spine. Lift your hips from right there- rise up. When you come out, imagine head-butting me in the stomach with the top of your head. Definitely got it.
That’s the difference about training professionally. At any time, I can go home.
What I don’t do, someone else will.
You have to make a conscious decision to commit wholeheartedly to this sport- and not just physically.
My biggest challenge has been stepping outside of my comfort zone and allowing myself to ‘stop thinking’…and I’ve realized that the more I trust my body to ‘just do’ the better my sessions are.
It almost sounds too simplistic- but in reality, track & field does not have to be as complicated as we make it.