Perception…is not always reality. Every thought we have, throughout the course of the day, is a culmination of millions upon millions of pieces of data. Our brains take in all that data, and make a judgement, a determination, of what we are experiencing. The object is red. The texture is firm. The taste is sour. The smell is fruity.
We are experiencing an apple.
But are we? Or is it really something else?
Our minds input the correct data. It runs through the database of past experiences. Processing. Processing. Processing (it takes a while, I’m still using a mid 2000’s Dell Laptop. It does what I need it to do. Don’t judge me). Processing. And then, after processing the initial data, along with any other additional data that has came in, spits out a decision as to what is going on.
Sometimes, what we think is an Apple, is really a Tomato. Or a Pear. Hey. We were close right?
And sometimes. It’s something completely different. What, I’m not sure. There’s probably a good item to insert here, but I can’t think of one right now, and spending too much time working on a poorly designed analogy really isn’t on the agenda tonight. All I know is that I’ve been wrong about a lot of things during my orbits around the sun.
Partaking in athletic activities of any type is no different. Except here, our perceptions can significantly hinder performance. Running is painful. Deep water paddling is where strong teams thrive. There’s too much weight on that bar to squat to full depth. All of these are perceptions that athletes carry. Little mental widgets, derived from past experiences. Things we’ve been told, read, or “experienced” ourselves.
Part of success, in anything, is overcoming those perceptions, be they real, or simply a figment of our imagination. In my line of work, at times, that means finding ways to change perceptions about the situation that others have planted. Finding a way to explain that what people think they know is only part of the truth. In solo sports, it’s often the same. We have a perception that things are difficult. Once we overcome that mental barrier, we realize what we are doing is actually not that bad. Blood pressure and heart rates drop, and the body transcends to an even higher level of efficiency.
For the majority of us, that’s one of the biggest difference makers. Efficiency. Our fate already pre-determined to a certain extent by genetic factors along with our events of our youth that locked us in to a bracket or group. Within that group, the difference makers vary. Experience. Training. Technique. These items culminating to determine how well we do something. Sure we are bound by the restrictions of that bracket. Not all of us can be Bjorn Daehlie with his legendary 90+ vo2 max output.
But we can change our perceptions of “hard” and “easy”.
And when we do, our body responds, making things even easier.
Is this the zone? That fabled mythical land that is talked about in hushed tones throughout the athletic spectrum?
Is the zone really nothing more than changing our mental perceptions?