Friday, April 24, 2009
Getting Out Of My Own Way
I was a quarter miler in high school. Did pretty well, won most of my races. There was this one race though, as I came around final turn, barely in the lead, over the last 100 meters, I noticed that as I pushed myself harder I was falling back and the 2nd place person (only a foot or two behind) would move up on me.
As I relaxed and just let my body work, I would pull ahead. As I strained and pushed, I started to fall back. I did this twice during the last 10 seconds of the race with exactly the same results. I was amazed at this. The harder I tried, the slower I went!
Struggling against a strong intuition to push harder, I forced myself to relax, and slowly pulled away to win the race.
I tried to fathom what had just happened. Maybe the strain of exertion actually tensed my muscles making me do more work. Whatever the reason, I learned a valuable lesson about pressing myself in other situations. By allowing my system to work I tended to raise its efficiency. The act of pushing and straining actually gets in the way.