Throughout the years, I have worked with many athletes, marathoners, golfers, basketball players and professional dancers. The magic bullet in training consciously is a synergy of fluid biomechanics, coupled with a mind and spirit that are all on the same page. In other words, it is very difficult to fuel your passion for athletics if one of these elements is holding you back — be it pain from an injury, a lack of belief in yourself, or using your sport as a form of punishment.
Ten years ago, I met a chunky mustached student, Max, and his wife Sofia in my Yoga Tune Up® class in Culver City. I was their first exposure to yoga, and they were ready to introduce conscious fitness into their lives. Max is the last person I ever expected to one day say to me, “I’m going to race the Ironman.”
There are some students who find their way to you, and it feels like they are long lost relatives. In Max’s case, he was the brother I never had; in fact, we even share the same surname. Max and I were both chubby kids who banked on our smarts and not our athleticism throughout our childhoods (which left us both with the titles of ”geek” and “nerd”). We also both suffered from eating disorders in our teen years — I from bulimia, and he from binge eating.
As the years passed and our friendship deepened, we began exchanging sessions — he is a gifted writer, computer geek and Mac specialist. He and Sofia built my first Web site. He formatted my teacher training manuals and took care of any Mac related issues I had. In exchange, I gave them Yoga Tune Up® sessions.
Prep for training — consciously
When Max’s father nearly died because of obesity-related complications, it lit a fire in Max. He recognized he had a genetic pre-disposition to hanging onto his baby fat.
He began running and training for marathons. He completely changed his relationship to food, eating for nourishment rather than to self-soothe. He threw away his self-described “crapetite” and learned about nutritionally sound building blocks.
As a specialist in the human body, I am keenly aware of healthy biomechanics and wear-and-tear patterns. Marathons are exhilarating, but they also come with a host of tissue damaging stress.
Over these past few years, I have seen Max’s body alter in profound ways due to his training regimen and the drive to live life in a new way. However, this does come at a price: His pliable connective tissues, loosened by our lessons, began to tighten and become more rigid.
So in addition to our sessions, I added homework for him to stay pliant by using the Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls and increasing his dynamic and static stretching repertoire. The particular stresses of preparing for endurance athletics inspired me to create the detailed sequences in my brand new Post Athletic Stretch Routines DVD.
This past year, Max had one goal in mind: Ironman, November 2009, in Tempe, Ariz. Every Tuesday, he would walk into my studio ragged with the prior weekend’s intense training. Each week, we would tackle some new type of pain he acquired: ankle sprain, knee popping, groin pulls, numbness in the hands, neck spasm or elbow strain.
I even remember conducting a Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Ball session with him over the phone, as he had a blinding migraine headache and couldn’t move. We always worked together to bring him back to balance so that he could keep up his training for the Ironman. I was determined to help him progress healthfully to the finish line no matter what.
Well, last weekend, Max dove into the waters to test conscious training and find out what he was truly made of. The 2.4-mile swim that day was his personal best. His time for the 112-mile bike ride was precisely where he expected it to be. It was all looking good until he discovered the 26.2 miles of marathon loomed ahead of him with no foot lubricant. Undeterred, Max tackled the foot race with gusto:
“This is the dark place where you have no choice but to face yourself and your own thoughts. I found out that I am the person that never quits. That there is always further I can dig. That I have resources and energy beyond my imagination. That I am made better by my friends and family supporting me to reach my goals, and that I race for myself and for them. Somewhere, somehow I found the energy. It wasn’t in my legs. It came from somewhere else — my heart.”
“I went through the finish line like a freight train, unstoppable. My eyes were seared blind by the lights, and in that moment, I knew pure, unadulterated ecstasy. I left every bit of myself on the course. I held nothing back. It was 140 miles of grueling effort and 0.6 miles of the most incredible feeling I have ever experienced in my life. It was like having molten steel poured into my body and my circulatory system pumping fire into every capillary.”
He was turned into an Ironman.
I am overjoyed for Max. It takes a village to build a happy, well-oiled, consciously-trained Ironman. When he crossed that finish line, we all crossed over with him: the geeks, nerds and chubby kids who at last found their courage within.
While his YTU self-care and the Active Recovery™ and Conscious Conditioning™ Programs we worked on together helped him cross the finish line injury-free with no lingering issues to unwind, it is Max’s willingness to stay in tune with his heart, mind and spirit that makes him a champion.
Stay tuned for future blogs where I will share the secrets to tuning up consciously and staying injury-free. For more information on Max’s race training regimen and his Take the Next Step approach, visit www.tnstraining.com