If I’ve learned anything about sports, it is this: Competition is easier when it’s easier.
When I started running a few years ago, it was like climbing mountains, but running doesn’t have to be that hard. Neither does swimming or cycling. The hard part is remembering to think it’s easy.
Now, I don’t mean it’s not hard to bike 100 miles or run a marathon, but there are thousands of times within each experience that we make it harder than we should.
I am constantly reminding myself to relax when I swim, bike, and run. Relaxed muscles are more effective.
The problem is we think too much.
When I was a kid I ran around the neighborhood all day without thinking twice. But when I thought about running, just to run, it seemed hopeless. It was fight or flight mode. I had to PUSH myself. Dig in and push off the ground. Throw my arms hard. Every step was another large dose of effort.
Now, I think of it much differently.
I remember the first time when I realized I wasn’t breathing hard during a long run. I was about 9 miles in and felt like I could go forever. It was almost like I forgot I was running.
Eventually a similar thing happened to me in the water. I call it jogging in the pool. It’s a relaxed state that seems like floating on a raft.
Which brings me to cycling.
A long time ago I was an aspiring mountain biker and bit off a 40-mile-race I wasn’t sure I could pull off. One of my friends said something really simple that sticks with me until this day, “Just keep spinning.”
Just keep spinning.
He didn’t say “just keep hammering” or “dig deep or thrash your pedals,” he basically said, just keep your legs moving in the most resistance-less circle as possible. Sometimes the simplest things are the most powerful.
All of this stuff is relative to your strength level, of course, but swimming, biking, and running are all much easier when you remember to use (and trust) momentum of your body and purpose. This works in life, too.