Hi running friends around the world!
For the past 10 years I’ve been running mostly at a low heart rate. Learning how to run at low HR was challenging and frustrating at first. After several months and years, it has become easy, comfortable and enjoyable to train this way!
Earlier this year I started swimming for the first time in my life (I used to only swim to survive in the water). Learning to swim has been a challenging and frustrating journey. My first time in a pool with 2 friends, I could swim ⅓ of the pool, before I choked on water, coughed up a lung and stopped. Now 6 months later I’m able to swim comfortably, controlled and I’m even enjoying it! (Here is a swim I did yesterday). I seriously never thought this was possible when I started swimming since I felt it was such a disaster.
Today I want to explore the concept from Zen Buddhism known as Shoshin, or “beginner’s mind”. This refers to the attitude of openness, eagerness and letting go of your preconceptions.
Why adopt a beginner’s mind?
Mastering the art of any endurance sport, often requires a level of fitness, physical strength and mental strength. When you take a beginner’s mind, you acknowledge that there is always more to learn and that each moment in training, racing and life can offer new insights. This way you can approach each moment with curiosity and anticipating, instead of complacency or dread.
Beginner’s mind in training
In training, a beginner’s mind can help leave your ego at the door. For example if you have to slow down your training pace to keep your heart rate low, a beginner’s mind can help make this process easier. Knowing you are putting in the time and effort now, to build a base, to gradually improve and set yourself up for success in the long term.
Instead of doing the same past routine or effort level, a beginner’s mind can help you explore new strategies, routines and techniques.
Beginner’s mind in racing
During a race, the beginner’s mind can be a great tool to stay present and focused. Instead of getting trapped in thoughts of past races, PR’s and future objectives, see each race as a unique experience. This allows you to tune into your body, mind and surroundings. Run a race against yourself, focus on each step, be present and enjoy the process.
Beginner’s mind in daily life.
When you are a beginner, like a child, your mind is empty and open. When you develop more knowledge and gain experience, your mind often becomes more closed to new information. This is a normal process, but it can be limiting as well. We can block info that is not in line with what we have learned previously and only pay attention to the info that confirms our current beliefs.
Our beliefs are our reality. Change your beliefs and you change your reality.
Having a beginner’s mind is about remaining open to new possibilities. So as you get ready for your next run, swim or ride, take it all in. Have a beginner’s mind to learn and grow from each moment. Instead of beating yourself up when things might not go according to plan, observe your body and mind, write down your learnings in a journal and keep showing up.
We often overestimate what we can achieve in the short term and underestimate what we can achieve in the long term.
Enjoy the process. Beginner’s mind.
Have fun out there on your run.
P.S. if you are stuck in training, you can have a beginner’s mind and join a local running club, or an online running coaching program such as our Personal Best Program 🙂 This can introduce you to new running strategies, specific workout schedules, and a community of like minded athletes, to learn from and grow.