I imagine that most who are drawn to Total Immersion are fairly motivated people. We see inspiring common threads in the kind of people who attend our training events.
But I am sure even greatly motivated people struggle to keep the momentum of training or exercise from time to time. Even I do… occasionally.
I’ve been training in swimming (and other individual sports) for 25 years or so. And there is one pattern I have learned to recognize and respect- I can make my lifestyle of exercise easy or hard by how I space that activity.
Exercise (or training) uses the momentum of habit like a body surfer uses a wave.
If we stay in front of the crest of the wave we can ride it’s force for a long time. In the case of training, we may find we can ride it indefinitely. (After this many years I notice that my long-time friends have polarized into the ‘consistently active’ and the ‘inactive’.)
But if we wait a bit too long, the crest moves past and then we’re stuck paddling our way forward against a back-current – quite hard work if you’ve ever tried surfing.
The simple application is this: even after 25 years if I let more than one day go between some sort of training or intentional exercise movement, I lose mental momentum for the training. But if I keep it up consistently I can enjoy a seemingly effortless habit of exercise.
My years of practice have instilled a deep habit of training which won’t be broken easily. Yet, if I skip a couple days I don’t quite feel so eager to get out there. Once I do, I love it and can feel the energy surge up again.
It has really never changed over all these years. If I exercise on Day 0, then I feel a lot of momentum to exercise on Day 1, my mind pumping with focus for the next session and body eager to get more energy. If I skip Day 1 (which often is the case because of how I need to divide my time) I still have an eagerness that I can count on and I can still keep momentum. But if I skip Day 2 as well then I often feel The Slump – my mind and body start feeling a pull towards being lazy. I know so well that this is totally false, and all I need is to get out there and the energy will flow again. But I still have to paddle against The Slump just about every time.
We cannot overlook the power of that habit also. After a year or so, let alone 25, it becomes more than a habit – this lifestyle of training becomes part of our identity and that makes it an even more powerful habit. As the momentum builds we have more resilience against falling into The Slump.
But still The Slump is waiting for us, even just a few days away.
If you are in front of the training crest, keep enjoying the ride, but keep in mind that you do need to keep yourself in front of it in order to enjoy the motivational energy it provides.
When you find yourself caught in The Slump I encourage you to dig in an paddle your way forward. Get up and out there. DO ANYTHING to get your energy pumping again and you’ll feel the wave start to build up behind you again.