I had to ask myself, Is this as fast as you can possibly run right now? and when the answer was No, making myself try harder for no other reason than that trying hard matters.
“They see me workout. They see me train. They see the effort I put in. But I’m always Dad to them. If I try to show them how to make a move, they are like, ‘Dad, seriously?’ [Like] I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m just Dad. It’s awesome.”
“You’re about to get an exclusive here,” Bonner said. “I hate to make excuses, I was raised to never make excuses, but I went through a two-and-a-half month stretch where I had really bad tennis elbow, and during that stretch it made it so painful for me to shoot I’d almost be cringing before I even caught the ball like, ‘Oh, this is going to kill.’ ” […] “Everybody is going to find this hilarious, but here’s my theory on how I got it,” he said. “When the new iPhone came out it was way bigger than the last one, and I think because I got that new phone it was a strain to use it, you have to stretch further to hit the buttons, and I honestly think that’s how I ended up developing it.”
See also: Matt Bonner’s sandwich metric.
“I asked him, how does it feel when people say [Phil Jackson] won only because he had Jordan, Pippen, O’Neal and Bryant? He brightened. “Feels great!” he said. “I’m so glad I had those players. Made all the difference.””
Who knows what goes on in any athlete’s head, but he comes across as someone who has genuinely found a way to solve the three brutal overlapping problems that come for any really great athlete late in his or her career. Namely, how to a) keep up the phenomenal and borderline terrifying level of motivation required to commit to nonstop training and preparation after you’ve already realized all your goals, while b) making peace with the fact that you not only aren’t as good as you once were but in fact are doomed to get worse, while c) maintaining a realistic, evolving sense of what you can do so that you know how to plan and when to feel proud, frustrated, optimistic, etc.
I read Timothy Gallwey’s The Inner Game of Tennis, and really enjoyed it. It’s one of those “hub” books you come across every so often, where you realize there are spokes sticking out into a bunch of other stuff that’s been on your mind lately.
Gallwey’s working theory here is about the internal dichotomy between “Self 1” and “Self 2” in performance. Self 1 is that voice inside, that part of you that “knows” how to do things, that instructs, urges, reprimands, exhorts. Self 2 is the one that does things. Given that Self 1 is so eager to “try hard” and correct and evaluate, successful practice and performance is about building trust for Self 2 and learning through practice and simple observation.
Letting go of judgments does not mean ignoring errors. It simply means seeing events as they are and not adding anything to them.
Mindfulness! There’s a flip side of that, too – Self 1 can be too pleased with itself when things are going well. Self-congratulations also takes you out of the moment. I really like this section, about avoiding criticism as we learn:
When plant a rose seed in the earth, we notice that it is small, but we do not criticize it as “rootless and stemless”. We treat it as a seed, giving it the water and nourishment required of a seed. When it first shoots up out of the earth, we don’t condemn it as immature and underdeveloped; nor do we criticize the buds for not being open when they appear. We stand in wonder at the process taking place and give the plant the care it needs at each stage of its development. The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies. Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential.
Another interesting bit:
If you think you are controlled by a habit, then you will feel you have to try to break it. […] There is no need to fight old habits. Start new ones.
And I thought this was nicely phrased…
Natural focus occurs when the mind is interested.
Focus isn’t something we do, it’s something that results.
I also like one final section on the games that people play aside from the actual game itself. We each tend to embrace different goals within the game: to be perfect, to be better than the other guy, to appear to be great, to bond, to learn, to be challenged, etc. Each of these motivations influence and contaminate and distract us from performance to some degree.
Very highly recommended!
Some other related posts around here: Never try to look cool and learn something at the same time. Nervous is good. Performance vs. editing. In order to have your best performance you have to be relaxed. That eye-on-the-object look. Reality not maybe is zen. Festina lente. Willing to be shit at things. Forever the 5-year-old of something. A good coach made you suffer in a way that suited you.
I love this so much:
[Point guard Jeff Teague] reported to training camp in September 2013 and couldn’t find his chair. “You’re over there now,” said reserve big man Gustavo Ayon, motioning to the spot between center Al Horford and forward Mike Scott. [Head coach] Budenholzer wanted players sitting next to one teammate they could influence and another who could influence them.
Do you ever think that the qualities that make you great are actually problems?
Oh, yeah. But the things that make a person average are also problems. The things that make someone not good at anything at all are a problem. If you want to be the greatest of all-time at something, there’s going to be a negative side to that.
Rusty ain’t playing.
Whatever makes it go in…
“I have to take my share of responsibility for promoting skepticism about things that I didn’t understand as well as I might have,” he says. “What I would say NOW is that skepticism should be directed at things that are actually untrue rather than things that are difficult to measure.”
So a man who runs a 59-min half marathon will not be able to sustain two back-to-back 60 min half marathons. It’s just not possible. And so therefore, before we can even consider the sub-2 hour marathon, we need to look at the ability over the half marathon. Until humans can run a half-marathon in under 58-minutes (and here, I’m talking low-57), it will not be possible to produce 59:59 twice in a marathon.
And that can be taken one step further, to 10km. If you are going to see a 57:x half marathon, then you should also be seeing a 10km that is substantially faster than the current 26:x. The 10km performance required to run a 57 is probably in the high 25s.
I’d never considered that. We may get there, but sounds further away than I thought it would be.