I don’t know about you — but most of the time, I feel like I’m running on two cylinders.
Performing pretty well but dropping the ball occasionally, getting easily distracted, hitting the wall in the afternoon, struggling to fall to sleep and sometimes letting my stress and thoughts get the better of me.
But as this week’s guest said:
“[Peak performance is} really about being on top of your game and feeling like your thriving. Which sounds easy but, most people when they are on top of their game may not feel like they are thriving. And some people feel like they are thriving but not on top of their game. So it’s quite hard to marry the two.”
Brad Stulberg is on a mission to help each of us perform at our best, in all aspects of our life.
He is a researcher, writer, speaker and coach (and runner) and in 2017 co-authored (with Steve Magness) Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout and Thrive With the New Science of Success which was one of my favourite books of the year.
The premise of the book is built on the concept of periodisation which underlies every training program ever written (or should!): stress + rest = growth.
One of the biggest misconceptions and mistakes many athletes make is to assume stress - i.e., the training sessions we do - make us fitter, stronger and faster.
But in reality, rest is an equally important part of the equation and one that most age group athletes (myself included) neglect which results in injury, illness and overtraining.
As Brad and Steve mention in the book: it is the period between training sessions when we grow.
This formula doesn’t just apply to our training but every facet of our lives; whether at work, in our personal life and even our hobbies.
We explore this formula - and how you can apply it more evenly - in your life.
* that after researching the book, he doesn’t like to distinguish or separate between the brain and body (“The mind/body connection; it’s not really a connection. It’s all just all one”)
* how the concept of stress is much broader than most people think; “Stress is anything that is a stimulus that challenges the brain or the body”
* the effect that life and work stress can have on your risk of injury,
* why you should schedule key training sessions for mornings or on days or periods in your life when you don’t have much other (life, work, personal) stress,
* the concept of “just manageable challenges” and how the little voice inside your head saying you can’t do it sometimes is a sign you’re on the right track,
* the power in reframing or labelling your pre-race nerves and anxiety as “excitement” (listen out for our discussion on competitive state anxiety),
* how to use calm conversations in a race or training session when you start to feel uncomfortable,
* how smartphones can add to your stress levels, and perhaps most importantly, how the mere presence of your smartphone can impair your ability to train,
* how much sleep you really need (and trust me, it’s more than you think)
* the power of meditation and how Brad has recommitted to his practice after a panic attack last year.
I highly recommend Brad and Steve’s book.
I love it; it’s well written and easy to read. It’s also packed full of strategies you can immediately implement in your life. Everything is backed by research. Plus I love the fact that when writing the book, Brad and Steve both tested every strategy so they could write about it having personally experienced it.
I hope you enjoy this conversation - and the book - as much as I did.
Notes and resources:
Listen to Brad and his co-author Steve Magness on the Rich Roll podcast here.