Further Thoughts On Not Thinking Whilst Swimming, Biking And Running


Hi folks,

FitOldDog's advice is to turn off thinking when you perform, like Nick

I live with a couple of talented kids, one of which is Nick Young, 14 years old, and here he is doing the high jump.

The other day I was listening to one of my favorite programs on National Public Radio, This American Life, when I heard for the first time about Steve Blass Disease. In fact, Steve Blass talked about his story during the program, attributing his late career problems as a baseball player to thinking too much. He also said that he wished that people would focus more on his previous great record, but that’s people I’m afraid. This program got me thinking about the problems I have with thinking too much, or over thinking an issue, such as my running technique. So, how do we stop doing that? If you think about what you are thinking I think that you will find that much of it is mental chatter about the challenges of life, such as money, the opposite sex, health, aging, aches and pains, problems with your car, and so forth.

FitOldDog's advice is to turn of thinking when you perform

I sure wish that I could run like Nick Young, 14, here completing the last leg of the 4x200 meter relay at his sports school event - totally relaxed, with great stride and turnover.

If you watch kids working out they seem to be completely with the program, and they do not appear to be worrying about their mortgage payments. They’re playing, period! I guess the trick to becoming the best athlete you can be is to think more like a kid, but I know of no easy way to do this except for focusing on what you are doing, and not how you are doing it. This is a critical distinction. I tried it in the pool the other day and found that my swim was much more fun. Whilst running it is more difficult, but I’ll keep trying. On the bike I am so busy looking around for interesting stuff that I’m just looking, and not really thinking (except about the next truck that is going to cream my ass – so I use a mirror!).

FitOldDog's advice is to enjoy nature as you do your easy bike rides

Small beaver dam spotted by FitOldDog during a recent bike ride in the rain.

I have had some fascinating experiences whilst riding my bike on long training rides. For instance, the other day I saw a great little beaver dam by the side of the road, one that you would never notice from your car, and too far away from the nearest town to consider walking. I stopped for a few minutes (I know my coach wouldn’t approve, so I didn’t tell him!) to watch and wait for the occupants, but no sign. They had dammed a small stream to create a healthy little pond about three feet deep. Then, come to think of it, I’ve also seen great stuff whilst swimming, such as the dolphins in Hawaii, and what can beat a training run across the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset. These events left no room for thinking, just experiencing.

That’s the beauty of Ironman training.

-k @FitOldDog



  1. Children in training

    So to quote Christ:

    “Saving you become as one of these you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven”

    I cannot comment on the theology but the basic idea seems to have a ancient provenence

    Like the beaver dam!

    Yes is does help if you can turn down the volume on all that mental hubub so you can focus more on doing and less on thinking whilst trying to do.

  2. Ancient roots indeed, that go back to the great forgetting, and beyond: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Story_of_B

  3. Hi Gail, if you are Gail. Why are you linked to ‘Angela’s Facebook page,’ which is in my spam blocker? Suspicious! -k

  4. Very glad you stopped to enjoy the ‘beaver’ moment. That’s important time. Timely posting also as yesterday I swam 20 mins with the families which was fun, moving around all the kid energy and activity! Then I did 4 laps in the lap pool before hanging off the edge gasping! Yay, progress of 1 kind or another.

  5. Well done, Marsha. People get out of breath in the pool for one main reason, poor breathing technique, and less commonly inadequate conditioning for the effort level. Wonder which one is yours? Thoughts? HAPPY NEW YEAR, yet again. Kind Regards, Kevin

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.