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Train Smarter not Harder

kettlebell motivation running strength training Feb 15, 2021

I had this goal to run a half marathon in under an hour and forty-five minutes. I also want to be able to perform a perfect kettlebell 24kg press. Then there are these 3 courses I want to take. Wait. I haven’t read a book for fun in months, am I ever going to call my best friend back? There’s a recipe I haven’t nailed down yet…. Parker, you need to be let out AGAIN? 


How am I ever going to have enough time to do all of this?! Will it take months, years, moments? What If I devote an hour a day to strength an hour to running and then another hour to reading…? Should I cut my sleep short and just skip it once a week to play with my kettlebell? Why can’t this just be as easy as brushing my teeth twice a day?!

Oh boy. Now that I have stressed you out, let’s take a step back. 

Being focused on the Present


You’re a time traveler. 


We all are. 


Skeptical? Sit down. Close your eyes. Bring to mind your last meal. Perhaps a bowl of pasta? Maybe a toaster strudel or was it stir fry? 


See?? You just traveled to the past. Now think about your day tomorrow. Can you see yourself completing a task? Are you brushing your teeth, pressing snooze on your alarm or maybe there’s a grocery store trip in your future? Boom. You’re time traveling.


Here’s the trick for faster strength, speed, and athletic gains. 




Have you ever read a paragraph and when you got to the end you had no idea what you read? Were you time traveling? Pondering your shopping list or ruminating about that jerk who cut you off on the freeway? 


When we really focus our attention on the task at hand, we learn that task better, faster, more efficiently and effectively. And when we already understand that skill when we continue bringing our focus and attention, we can find the smaller nooks and crannies of that skill that merit additional attention. 


Go ahead, try this.




Great. Welcome back. Now, did you get rock bottom, did you feel anything wonky? Were your feet challenged?


Stand back up and think about this next one, consider the angle of your ankles as you sit deeper into your glutes, are your knees tracking over your toes? Do your hips feel mobile?


When you think back to this skill, is there something that could be better?  Would it make sense to squat 1000 more times with heavier weight, or perhaps introduce a bit of ankle mobility into your training sessions?

Clarifying our Present Focus


Now let’s go back to that giant list of goals. Can you name a few things you’ve had on your to do list for a while? A very smart and intelligent woman by the name of Annie once told me that you only have 100% to give at any one time. If you have 4 goals you want to tackle, does it make sense to give 25% of your effort to each task? 


When I was a senior at UW Madison, I had already completed a few years of Greek and Latin. (Yeah yeah…you try explaining to a naïve 20-year old the chances of making a living off a Classics Major…) I had a great idea that I would be a master of languages, so I decided to add not one but two new languages to my course load. After 2 weeks I was asked for a chat by the professor in one of those classes and very politely informed that my progress was…abysmal…and perhaps I should reconsider my spot in the course. 


Are you overextending yourself? Are you allowing yourself to clarify your focus and refine your attention on one goal?


Be Nitpicky. Perfecting your Skill. 


Go back to your goal. Now think about that skill. Let’s say it’s baking a cake. You can’t just put all the ingredients in one bowl and pop it in the oven at 500 and hope for the best. Each step must be performed in a certain order. If each ingredient is so-so, do you expect that cake to be divine? Movement is the same.


Now let’s bring this same awareness to something you do every day. Brushing your teeth. Imagine your fingers are glued together.


Amusing to think about, and if you did it, send me a video. You likely were able to still brush your teeth but with a sharp decline in efficiency. 


Now what if you weren’t allowed your vision? You’d have to use your hands to slide around your countertop and search out the drawer or cabinet for your toothpaste. Maybe you’d have to pat around for the faucet. Could you spit out after rinsing directly into the basin?


Pick apart your goal to the smallest components and get so good at the parts that when you bring everything together it’s as easy and mindless as brushing your teeth. 


This leads us to what you can do right now to bring those athletic goals to fruition faster without nearly as much effort. 


Step 1. Stop Time Traveling. Bring your focus, attention, awareness, and presence to the task at hand as you practice it.


Step 2. Re-define and focus your goals. Spotlight that goal. That doesn’t mean you have to lose sight of your other dreams, just consider them a supporting character as you define, develop, and flesh out that main role. 


Step 3. Focus and develop further! If your goal is to run a marathon, know that you must run a mile first. If you want to squat with a 32kg kettlebell, you must mobilize your ankles. Pick the goal apart and master the pieces that make up the whole. 

Still need a little support getting on the path to realizing your movement dreams? Join me Saturday for our Monthly Workshop where you’ll learn and practice more skills to train Smarter, not Harder. 

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