Sir Roger Bannister, the first man recorded to have run a mile in less than four minutes passed away yesterday in England. Up until the year that he broke through the four minute barrier in 1954, the athletic and scientific world hotly debated whether a four minute mile could ever be broken. Most people concurred that it couldn’t be done.
But when Sir Roger succeeded in shaving less than a second off of the four minute mile in 1954, additional athletes immediately followed his example in achieving the same feat. Their training had not changed so much from earlier in the year, however their personal dream immediately became more tangible.
I am starting to think that we stare at our own four minute miles every day.
Most of my limits and weaknesses in strength training are mental. My mind cannot really fathom all the potential of where I can go with my body. I almost lack the experience to imagine it. In fact, it is fair to say at this point that my trainer, Bertina often knows my capabilities and my potential far better than I do.
This week, I told her I couldn’t hold a lowered squat and do arm curls at the same time. I tried sitting in the hold and I remember at the moment feeling pain and severely panicked as if something was going to happen to me.
Uncharacteristically, I tried to get out of the exercise pleading, “I can’t do it, Bertina!”
Bertina reflected for a moment and said plainly, “Yes, you can. Your legs are strong enough.”
Are they? I wondered. Well, maybe. We do wall sits for a minute hold, why can’t I sink into a squat for a couple of arm curls?
I changed my thinking to move past my assumption of what I couldn’t do to an assumption of what I could do. I tried again, trusting for the moment that I was totally capable of hanging out in a squat for as long as I wanted.
It was an entirely different experience. There was no pain and I could have done practically whatever she asked me to do while I was there. There was less than a minute between my attempt to abandon the squat and coming back to own it. But it was the time that I needed to reevaluate my thinking and break down all the inhibiting mental barriers about what my body could do.
Fantasies strength trained into reality
I was wisely advised by a friend today to fantasize about everything. I was counseled to reach into my mind to connect with the part of my subconscious self that is the source of my hopes and dreams and engage it regularly like a muscle.
What he said made really good sense to me. Daydreaming is a kind of training exercise. When I think about it, it is just as essential to my strengthening progress as the physical training that I do every morning.
In fact, I should actually daydream about my body and its physical training because there are four minute miles to be broken all over my body and dreaming of breaking them is a smart first step towards actually doing it.
The good news: more mental barriers that have been blown away this week:
My two minute plank!
My doubts about my ability to hold a two minute plank were smashed on Wednesday with Ronn, encouragingly repeated on Thursday with Bertina, and confidently confirmed today, again with Ronn.
Physically I am the same as I was a week ago, I am not significantly stronger. But mentally, I can now better envision the end goal. From the beginning of the exercise, I can direct my thoughts to latch on to where I want to go and commit myself to holding out until I get there. I am definitely ready to shoot for two and a half minutes.
Reaching my goal weight for my body!
Yesterday, I finally achieved gaining the seven pounds that I felt would bring me back up to a healthy body weight. With all the obstacles in my head about how I feel about food and my habit of holding my stress in my stomach, I thought that I would not be able to gain the weight. I’m not actually sure how I did it.
Whatever it was, I need to keep doing what I am doing. It feels amazing to fill out again, to be more solid and healthy. I don’t know if you could call it curves exactly yet, but there is strength there enough to celebrate this achievement as a victory over my own mental resistance.
(So set and reset). I have in mind a new goal weight which might take me another six months to achieve, but now I trust in the process and feel more confident setting out to do so.
So, finally! I promised you some pictures of my awesome week training with Bertina.
We did skull crushers to work at the triceps on the exercise ball. Think of your elbows like hinges that can only work a 90 degree angle. I am positioned in an inverted table top plank with the ball supporting my neck and shoulders- squeeze those glutes and abs!
And Bertina had me dipping on the bench (at first innocently with no weight and then adding in the extra challenge with a barbell when I was feeling like it was easy! (She’d never let that fly!)
Yesterday, was fun but oooh, I am feeling all those lateral ab exercises today. Bertina had me up in a side plank reaching out over my head for a great stretch, then staying with the hold, she had me dip my hip down for a counter movement (10 reps, 2 sets each side).
B got out the kettle bell weights and she had me moving high and low in squats and lunges focusing on balance.
And side by side she coached me in kettle bell swings. This is going to take me awhile to get my form right. Swing your weight to eye level and back through your legs. It’s not a squat but your knees do bend. Keep your shoulders squared and your back straight!
And there was so much more! And inshallah more to come!
By the way, thank you to everyone who reads my articles and sends me comments. A few of you have told me to put more pictures in the articles, so I will aim to top up each post with more imagery.
I appreciate your feedback!