Resilience, grace under pressure

Training, running, racing and living under pressure

We often hear that resilience is the ability to effectively respond to a setback. But it’s more than that.

Resilience is the ability to adopt a preventative and proactive approach to managing stress.

Done well, this provides an ability to withstand and function under pressure. Per example training with stronger partners, simply competing, recovering from an injury, racing with a strong field, setting a high performance goal.

Resilience is not a special quality you have or lack-
It can be trained

Here are key lessons learnt from athletes that demonstrate incredible levels of resilience

  • high levels of healthy confidence, self-assurance and not arrogance
  • maintaining focus and blocking out irrelevant noise
  • balancing intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to drive training and performance
  • a positive, forward thinking mentality, allowing to learn lessons from the past and continuously develop one’s skills

We have a tendency to think that these qualities are rare and only found in extraordinary athletes-individuals. That’s not true. Each of these can be taught, trained, and developed. Many of the world’s best athletes have once suffered from low self-confidence, a tendency to get distracted, low motivation, or negativity bias.

Each of these can be overcome and turned into resilience.
Those emotions can obviously come back but knowing how to deal with it is key and a new beginning towards resilience.

A starting point how to develop these qualities begins with a simple rewire.
It’s not about mental strength but mental flexibility.
(big accent in my book)

We face obstacles, our authority is challenged, delays happen, race canceled, injuries arise, people disappoint us, we revise our plan, we scrap it and we just start over. We can’t change the past but we can take control of the situation.

Pressure can be seen as a privilege

Pressure is feeling nervous before a race, aiming for a PB, telling everyone you will be competing at a race and ready for it, setting very high expectation, and your are posting all this on social media.

It comes down to how you use your energy or deal with your nerves, it can work for you or against you.

It’s all about how you deal with your pressure

Staying in your bubble before a race, quiet, solo in your hotel room versus socializing at the expo discussing the bad weather, paying attention to others pre race plan… can have a severe impact on your performance.

It’s negative stress, it’s added pressure.
It’s disturbance
Instead of focusing on your plan, your food, going through your equipment list, you get diverted, it creates doubt, negative emotions that are not even real.

Resilience is focusing on your own plan- no external influencer.

When I work with athletes and they start sharing the way others train for the same race or rehab for the same injury- I always stop them and say :

Don’t waste energy paying attention to what others do.
How do you know they are doing the right thing ?
Do you trust our plan ? YES, okay lets stay focus on it :))

This is where the challenge mindset steps in. An athlete with a challenge mindset does not get impacted as much by the inevitable highs and lows of sports. An athlete with a challenge mindset considers the realities of their world, they acknowledge and accept that what they’ll face will be difficult, uneasy, and emotional.

Adopting a challenge mindset is a form of priming.
It gives you a head start to focus on your process, routines, and what you can control. Pressure can be even seen as a privilege because you feel equipped to deal with it.

I see this day in and day out working for the space program at ESA. Astronautes are trained for every possible emergency situation that may arise, and to react instantly without hesitation. But the same goes for each person involved in a space mission, on the ground and in space. Very high pressure jobs since serious situation arise if not controlled to the max.

That is head “space” resilience !

big goals = more pressure
I’ve worked with a few top elite athletes this year with their main goal being their best performance ever.
Something I always incorporate working with athletes, I have them write down their biggest fear.
Step two, we go through them together, discuss, and we make a plan to eliminate the fears.
Step three I incorporated solution in a practical format.

For example rowing across the Atlantic ocean, it can be legit to fear falling overboard and not being able to swim back to the boat and drown- (even if they have the best safety equipment anything can happen)
A good way to eliminate this fear is to add open water swim training sessions after a long row. Swimming pre fatigue, especially in open water is not easy both physically and mentally but the motivational factor is high, it has purpose-
Build swimming skills for the wild ocean and above all get much fitter mentally and physically.

Time for D day that negative pressure is gone and emotionally much calmer and focus on the event- that’s pure resilience. Not at the starting line wondering what if… instead using pressure in good favour- to give it all no matter what.

This is something I have always and still prioritize in my preparation for either expeditions, races and some of my work projects that comes with high pressure and responsibilities.

It never gets easier we just get stronger and calmer, we gain control
Resilience comes with hard work and giving all you have.
To be the best, you have to put-in a lot more than everyone else.

Resilience is grace under pressure.

zero excuses
zero drama
zero blaming
100 percent on | 100 percent off
we win and we loose and we move forward

There is something we can all learn about resilience

Like Lewis Hamilton once said, performance is all about how you deal with pressure

Be a stride forward, make your own list and find practical solution !
My book will be out in April 2022, Guérin


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