So I managed to be slow enough to win a handful of races so far in my life. I figured most of them had something quite interesting in common. The idea of participating appeared between 1 and 48 hours before the actual race took place, often with the approach ”I’m not ready for this kind of race yet, but let’s give it a shot!”. In other words, spontanity seems to be a key to success, at least for me. I struggled a little bit with the dilemma ”Planning or Being spontaneous?” Until I realized – what if they could go hand-in-hand? Maybe we just have to Prepare ourselves for Spontanity?
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Spontanity = Focus ?
In the game called life and particularly when it comes to sports and performances, there’ll be small challenges in every step we take. Knowing a race track by heart is of course one of the greatest advantages you can get. But how could we combine those careful preparations with the playful game of spontanity? The answer sounds quite simple, now that I found it. But I will still struggle to perform it in reality. Over and over again. My answer is ”Focus on each playful step – keep your goals as guidelines”. This is suitable for long term preparations aswell as each training or race itself. If you keep your mind on a summer race already during winter training, you will forget to enjoy the present moment, and there’s a huge risk that life will disappoint you along the spring. If you’re thinking of crossing the finish line already at the start of a race, the road will seem endless and painful. If you keep your mind on each step, the surroundings and your own body signals, maybe the cute girl or boy in front of you, the probability of joy/success is much bigger. Compare it to work – if you focus on your salary and at which time you will get home today, the day will seem very long. Focus on your tasks instead and you won’t notice the hours passing.
So where does the spontanity occur? In each step. Even if you might have to plan your life meticulously, try to catch each opportunity to play. Run a different trail, leave the trail, try a race you never thought of, eat I dish you never tried, speak to strangers. Do like your children would do. Do tvärtom.
A healthy approach to big goals (guidelines)
We can’t stop ourselves from big dreams, and we shouldn’t. If your dream is to participate in a huge race on the other side of the world, having to enter a year before – just do it! Enter, book the trip, prepare yourself. But remember to enjoy the preparations, and keep your road open for detours. Make the road an adventure, and the keep the actual goal as a guideline. I used the word guideline earlier in this post, without further explanation. Guideline has, since a long time, been my word for plans (and goals). They give me a direction and a motivation but they are not making my life completely dependent on their outcomes. Get it? Keep on dreaming, make your plans and set up your goals. But see them as guidelines. Another cliché: Don’t dream your life – Live your dream.
The timing of this article – an example from my reality
I write this post from the race center of this weekend’s Skimo Worldcup. Since I started to try some races in Ski Mountaineering two years ago, I always carried this idea of trying the highest level of races. It doesn’t really make sense for a guy who spent his first 20 years by the sea, 7 meters above sea level. But maybe it’s the impossibility that drives me?
The last few months gave me the worst conditions for preparing – I couldn’t afford to go to the mountains early enough, which left me stuck in the south of Sweden working my ass off trying to make it south before the first race. I tried to find the best hills for uphill roller skiing / running and collect as many vertical meters as possible when I had some time off. Just to arrive in the real mountains and realize I’ve been trying to create a mountain. At sea level. With my tallest peak at about 150 meters…
I did the first WC races in Andorra, which also happened to be my first speed trainings this year. DNF at the first Individual and 26% behind the winner at the Sunday’s Vertical. But the results aren’t as important as the question: Did I enjoy it? No. Did I enjoy the preparations? Not really, except for a few moments. This week, I went back to my heart (and my wallet…) and asked: where do you want to go? I ended up running 4 hours on tricky trails in Montserrat close to Barcelona, and spent 24 hours in the center of the city. Getting around on my longboard…
Meanwhile, most of my colleagues/concurrents spent an entire week exploring the area of the upcoming races. I’m sure they’ll have a huge advantage, physically and mentally, in terms of doing good results. I wish them good luck and I admire their ability to focus. But as much as that, I’m happy to be back on MY own path, ready to enjoy the World Cup and the mountains from MY perspective.