Time. Truth. Heart.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Rainshowers bring spring flowers. Great. Also mud, and lightning. I don’t have any particular reason yet to go out in down pouring thunderstorms. I may be a little crazy, but I haven’t gotten to that point yet. So no ride today. We’ve postponed our ride to Saturday because it appears to have little chance of rain and be beautiful.

I did however take the day to get things checked off my list so that I CAN ride guilt-free over the weekend and I got into the gym (schedule has been difficult for gym time recently). Even though this post has no direct horse training stories, I was inspired by a TED radio hour podcast to write today.

IMG_9099I hope that green to 100 is about more than training a horse. I hope it’s also about dreaming big and stretching your limits past what you could do right now. Also, it’s pouring down rain right now so I can’t go outside and work on my yard. The TED show was called “Champions” and it hit a chord with me.

For now, I’m going to highlight my favorite quotes from some of the speakers they interviewed. (You can click the link below to listen)

http://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/331331360/champions

The first story is an interview with Dianne Nyad who swam the channel from Cuba to Florida- an epic journey. She attempted the swim 5 times and failed more than she succeeded. She swam for over 50 hours without a break -without touching the support boat. When asked about her motivation to keep going she said:

“I think that my motivation in feeling that tremendous pressure, that our time here is so precious and so limited- that’s what drives me. That’s what drives me to dream big and not give into fears”

I feel like that almost every day I wake up. Today is the day. Every day. Make the most of it.

Next story I enjoyed was with Pam Reed- an ultra marathoner. David Epstein interviewed her for his book The Sports Gene. He said about her “Pam has an incessant drive to be active. The day I interviewed her, she’d just finished the national champion, ironman triathlon in New York the day before (she got second place). Her flight out of LaGuardia was delayed and she’d stashed her bags and was running laps around the parking structure while being interviewed.

She says, “It’s so boring just sitting there.” [I can relate to this!]

After interviewing and researching for his book David learned this about people driven to do “epic” things- he said this about their goals:

It’s not like ‘I’m going to win the Olympic Marathon’ it’s more like ‘Today in my workout from mile 3 -4 I’m going to push hard’ … They are actionable goals. They have a  Dianna Nyad sized feat off in the distance, but they are really good at setting these sort of more proximate goals that tell you what to do today.

Working on ground driving for some steering before trying to ride, Summer 2014
Working on ground driving for some steering before trying to ride, Summer 2014

I love that! I get so excited when each day I go out we get one small step closer to our big goal with something as simple as riding without Faygo, or getting on the trailer (even though we didn’t GO anywhere). I love the idea of one small step every chance you get. These add up over time to huge things anyone can accomplish. I am about the most average person in the universe. I believe ANYONE can do epic things if they want to. But you have to start with very “un-epic” steps on a very regular basis.

This brings me to the other point David found that I learned in Bikram Yoga and marathon training:

Normally your brain is designed to limit what you can do with your body. At a certain point when you’re pushing beyond your limits your brain tells your body to shut down so you don’t die. Part of pushing yourself farther is convincing yourself either ‘you are not going to die’ or ‘this is really important‘”

This is such a fascinating thing to me- I think it’s one reason why people often work with a trainer because your brain tells you “You are going to die” but your trainer will likely telly you “No way- you have one more minute, or two more reps… in you- I know it” or whatever you need to push the limit.

Something Bikram Yoga taught me was that your brain will often panic and tell you “you’re going to pass out… you’re going to throw up…” I learned in Bikram was that your mind lies to you. I have never died, never thrown up, and never passed out- but I’ve often thought I would.

Bikram practice helped me in my marathon to understand what the difference between my muscles feeling like they were working hard and feeling like I was injured. It also helped me through a hard time in my life when I felt like I might die and that would be easier than getting up in the morning. But even though it didn’t feel possible- I told myself that I would not die and eventually things would get better. And then you have to just decide that you WILL keep going. If you’re not injured, if you don’t actually throw up, you just keep going. Yes I’m tired. Yes it is uncomfortable. It’s supposed to be that way. It’s the only way to come out on the other side- and that is the reward.

First time in the saddle, Fall 2014
First time in the saddle, Fall 2014

I hope I’ll be able to reach into that mental toughness when I’m cold… or hot… and tired… and it’s dark and unfamiliar… or raining… or whatever challenges I’ll eventually face after 12, 15, 18 hours on a horse trying to do something I think would be an epic feat. A 100 mile horse race.

The last guest was Sarah Lewis, author of The Rise, who talked about Success VS Mastery. I connected to the idea that fame and winning wasn’t necessarily the goal when people wanted to do epic things. The goal is more often to be better than you were before- to improve yourself each time.

I am not the best horse trainer, not the best rider, in fact- I’m pretty green myself if you compare me to all the people who have spent most of their lives with horses. The thing that gives me such encouragement and excitement is that I believe each week I am better than I was. I may never even finish a race in the top 10- but I know I am capable of doing a little better and learning a little more about myself and my horse.

Masters are not experts because they take their subjects to a conceptual end, they are masters because they realize there isn’t one. We build out of the unfinished idea- even if that idea is our former self. This is the dynamic of mastery: coming close to what you thought you wanted can help you attain more than you ever dreamed you could…. completion is a goal, but we hope it is never the end” Sarah Lewis.

And I also hope I have a horse who will be with me every step. Not everyone wants to run a marathon. Not everyone wants to push their limits. — And that’s ok. I think horses are pre-disposed in many cases to do amazing things. I don’t know yet if Khaleesi is a 100 mile horse, but I believe that anyone can do epic things with small steps each day- and hopefully that means so can any horse.

Everyone is capable of epic things- I hope you take a small step toward your epic goal this weekend. It just takes some time, truth and heart….