The One Sport That Most Of The Top Trainers In The World Have In Common
Have you ever noticed how professional speakers seem to have an abundance of energy? When they are presenting they never seem out of breath even though they are speaking for several hours at a time. Have you ever wondered how they achieve this level of physical endurance? Tony Robbins states that he walks 27 miles a day when he is doing a multi-day event. In 2018, I attended Andy Harrington’s “Power To Achieve” event in London and noticed that he also had this abundance of energy and was effortlessly presenting on stage for several hours at a time with the audience fully engaged.
In the Christmas vacation of 2016 I was updating my wheel of life for the next quarter and was reviewing the segment of my wheel of life on physical fitness. To me, one of my core values is that “my body is my temple” and I wanted to set myself a challenge for 2017 that fulfilled one of my six human needs – the one of growth. And as a teacher, I wanted the energy that Tony Robbins has when he is presenting so that in my daily teaching I was energised throughout the day from the first lesson until the last lesson of the day.
It was at this point that I did some research and found out that the one sport that most of the top trainers in the world do is run. They run in order to build up cardiovascular endurance and optimise their metabolic rate so when they are presenting on stage they have this seemingly endless supply of energy. And I decided that although I had never run in my life prior to this, that I was going to take up the sport of running and model the top trainers in the world and have an abundance of energy that I could use in my own teaching practice.
Modelling Excellence: UltraMarathon Runner Stu Mittleman
Once I had updated this segment of my life plan using the RPM (Rapid Planning Method) and MAP (Massive Action Plan) strategies, both taught by Tony Robbins, I was ready to achieve my objective and start training in the sport of running. I had a clear Result: to have an abundance of energy to teach my students and complete stage work; a clear Purpose: to run a 5K in the top 25% of my age group in a Park Run sanctioned event and a clear MAP: model how Tony Robbins completed this objective back in the 1990’s. In my mind, there is nothing better than modelling someone who has already completed your objective in order to achieve it more efficiently.
I completed some more research and found out that Tony Robbins modelled the work of Stu Mittleman in order to learn how to run. For those of you who don’t know about the work of Mittleman, he is an ultra distance marathon runner who ran 1000 miles in just less than 12 days in 1986. I downloaded Mittleman’s book from Amazon and read it every spare moment I had over the course of several weeks.
Modelling Excellence: Running In The Footsteps of Stu Mittleman
Mittleman suggests that in order to effectively run long distances, which for me was anything longer than dashing for public transportation in London, you needed to chunk the process down into three separate areas: psychology (beliefs), physiology (movement) and fuel for your body. I updated my MAP in the segment of my wheel of life pertaining to my physical body and began to plan how to implement what I had learned from reading his book with a goal of running 5K. Although I had never run long distances before, I thought that if Tony Robbins and countless other people that Mittleman had coached had transformed themselves into successful runners then it would work for me as well. And, I would have the abundance of energy that I wanted when teaching my students.
The Psychology Of A Runner
As part of my morning visualisation practice, I would visualise myself effortlessly running a 5K in the local park. During the day I would refer to myself as an runner and visualise the body shape and muscularity I would have as an athlete who effortlessly ran 5K each week. I visualised myself having an abundance of energy of how it affected the teaching of my students. I visualised myself breaking through any limiting beliefs I had regarding running a 5K and instead instilled in my psychology the belief that I was an athlete that could run 5K with ease.
I learned to stay in the zone when I was running and to enjoy the moment. I learned how not to think about how far I had run or how much further I had to run in order to achieve my target distance for the day. Rather, I learned to stay in the moment by following Mittleman’s strategy: focus on your breathing, assess your relationship with the ground, observe your surrounding and take mental inventory of your body. By following his strategy, I noticed how I actually enjoyed running and seemed to step into my own mental world which when the app on my iPhone announced I had run the target distance for the session, made me wonder how both the time and the distance had gone by so quickly.
I also learned how to set process oriented goals regarding my running program. I knew that if I ran 5K in the first week, I would not be running again the second week since I would probably injure myself or be drained of energy and need time to recuperate before I ran again. I downloaded an app from the iTunes store and programmed it to train me to run a 5K in approximately six weeks. I followed the program which involved walking a certain distance and running a certain distance two or three times a week. Each week, the distance I walked decreased and the distance I ran increased until by the end of six weeks I was running 5K and had joined the local Park run club.
The Physiology Of A Runner
One key aspect of successfully running any distance is to listen to your body and adjust the frequency of your weekly running sessions and the speed at which you run. When I began training to run a 5K there were times when I was too tired to run that day. Rather than feel that I had not achieved the goal for the day, I listened to my body, rescheduled the session for another day and took my dogs for a long walk instead. By reframing the event and labelling the outcome as listening to my body, I strengthened my belief that I was a runner who was wise enough to listen to his body and avoided injuries during the six week training period it took to to condition myself to run a 5K.
Mittleman discusses how to breathe from the diaphragm when you are running. He explains how to do this by visualising a triangle with the corners at each of your hips and your belly button. In this triangle exists a soccer ball, which you inflate when you breathe in and deflate when your breathe out. And as you run, imagine inflating and deflating the soccer ball. I thought that this was an interesting use of visualisation but I was open to trying new ideas since Mittleman had run a 1000 miles in just under 12 days. I tried Mittleman’s visualisation technique and noticed that although my speed had decreased slightly the distance I was running had increased. After a couple of more weeks of using the technique, I noticed that my speed had increased back to what it was prior to using the technique and the distance I was running had increased even more.
Another key aspect of running is to have correct form and technique when you are running which Mittleman explains through the use of metaphors. The metaphors he uses are: breathe to the ball (correct breathing); stand on top of the world (foot position); dinosaur arm position (upper body position); rose petals in the mouth (head position); soft eyes (eye position); roller coaster (state maintenance) and captain of the ship (making adjustments). When I read these metaphors in his book, again I was surprised, since I had read about the use of metaphors in teaching but hadn’t seen it applied in the context of running. I incorporated the metaphors into my running sessions and imagined that my feet were running on top of the world, my arms were dinosaur arms, I had rose petals in my mouth and I was breathing into a soccer ball while I was gazing off into the distance. The distance I ran increased, my speed increased and I was not winded at the end of my run.
The intention behind these strategies is to condition your body so that when you run you are running in the fat burning zone rather than the sugar burning zone. As Mittleman explains, our body has two types of energy systems: the fat burning and the sugar burning system. The fat burning system is good for slow sustained energy release and the sugar burning system is good for quick energy release. The fat burning system involves burning the energy that is stored in our body fat and the sugar burning system involves burning the calories that you ingest as food. When you run, you want to burn the energy stored in your body fat since it allow you to run for a longer period of time and decreases the amount of fat stored in your fat cells.
How do we switch between the two different energy systems? By training in a lower heart rate zone you automatically switch from the sugar burning to the fat burning energy system. I read this section of his book very carefully and understood that there were three heart rate zones in his system: MAP (Mostly Aerobic Pace) which utilises the fat burning system; above this in terms of heart rate is the MEP (Most Efficient Pace) which uses both the fat burning and sugar burning systems and above this in terms of heart rate is the SAP (Speedy Anerobic Pace) which utilises the sugar burning system.
Although it seems complicated at first with a little practice I could tell which zone I was in by using visual, auditory and kinaesthetic anchors when I was running. For example, in the MAP zone, Mittleman suggests that you notice the world around you in detail using both your fovial and peripheral vision. There is a crystalline quality to the sounds that you hear around you and that you notice all of the sounds even your own quiet breathing. And you feel relaxed and one with the world around you as you run. I was pleased that I noticed all of these distinctions when I was running which indicated that I was in the MAP zone. This was confirmed when I checked the data on my running app after I had completed the run and noticed that I was indeed in the appropriate heart rate zone as calculated using the formula taught by Mittleman in his book.
Fuel For Your Body
The food that you eat is the fuel that you use when you are running so this aspect of Mittleman’s strategy was of particular interest to me. This is because if I wanted the energy that Tony Robbins has I needed to be on a healthy eating plan. But, with so many theories on the correct diet being discussed in the latest self help books which diet do you follow? I decided to follow the healthy eating plan discussed in Mittleman’s book and the one followed by Tony Robbins, since if it worked for Tony Robbins and the students that Mittleman coaches, then if I followed his healthy eating plan, I should get similar results.
The healthy eating plan proposed by Mittleman is a blend of a low glycemic Pescatarian and Mediterranean diet. On the diet you eat only fish and seafood in addition to vegetarian foods such as beans, vegetables, fruits, dairy and grains, and the occasional steak. I have always been interested in healthy eating plans and this one sounded tasty to me. Over the course of the next several weeks of training, I blended in the foods on the healthy eating plan as I used up the food inside the fridge and the kitchen cupboard into my daily meals, carefully monitoring what I was eating on my Fitbit app each day.
After a few weeks on this healthy eating plan and continuing with my training sessions
my body shape started to change. I noticed that my body fat decreased rather quickly into a healthy body fat range. The distance I ran each training session increased and I was easily running 5K and quickly accomplished running a 10K each week.
How To Go From Running Zero To 10K A Week In Ten Weeks
- Have a clear result, purpose and MAP before you start your training program.
- Visualise yourself as having accomplished the objective – in this case running 10K.
- Eliminate any limiting beliefs and replace them with empowering beliefs regarding your ability to run this distance.
- Stay in the zone when you are running and enjoy the moment.
- Set yourself process oriented goals that you can accomplish each week.
- Visualise breathing through a soccer ball to make sure you breathe using your diaphragm.
- Run in the aerobic fat burning zone.
- Practice correct form and technique when you are running.
- Use visual, auditory and kinaesthetic cues to provide feedback.
- Eat a blend of a Pescatarian and Mediterranean eating plan.
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To purchase the book “Slowburn” by Stu Mittleman, click on the affiliate link: Slow Burn: Burn Fat Faster By Exercising Slower