At 5:40am last Friday, I was attempting to explain the main set of a swim workout to the dedicated triathletes who join me every Monday and Friday morning. The operative word: attempting. I was explaining the set over and over in different ways trying to get my point across and to ensure that my fellow triathletes knew what to do but in doing so, I just made things more confusing. Some blank stares ensued, I’m pretty sure I was lost at that point, we were all getting cold, and I remember saying out loud “keep it simple, stupid”.
In graduate school, we were always told to rephrase weaknesses as “areas of growth”, but I know full well that keeping things as simple as possible is a weakness of mine. Let’s not beat around the bush! In life, in my clinical work, trying to explain some funny story from earlier in my day to someone, and in sports I will, at times, be more complex and detailed than I need to be. I have discovered that in the world of triathlons, I’m surprisingly no different. The tricky thing in this new world, however, is that everything seems so complex. There are a million different ways to train, a trillion different tech gadgets and accompanying software to choose from, and there’s countless opinions on what equipment is “absolutely necessary” to be successful. How do I keep it all straight when I lean towards being too complex to begin with?
When I started this journey towards becoming an Ironman, I planned to engage in trial and error with regard to applied sport psych work to find what works best for me. At this point, several months in, I think I’ve got a pretty good grasp on what skills work and what skills don’t (for me). Now it’s about continuing to foster the growth of these skills while noting the subsequent performance enhancing impact. To be clear, it was never my intention to inundate myself with 1000 different strategies, use them all, and come out on the other end a better athlete. That approach doesn’t work! Essentially, I wanted to whittle things down to a recipe that was simple and effective. However, my mind continues to ruminate on what else I could bring to the table and then all the other factors outside of the realm of sport psychology that could improve my performance. Careful, Alex! Keep it simple, stupid!
There’s a line though; a line between being too simple and not simple enough. Einstein once said “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”. I’ve got the complex and over-explained covered, so I don’t need to worry about being too simple. What I need to do is continue to strive towards what works for me, in the simplest terms, without sacrificing my performance. I need to be mindful of when I’m stepping into the too complex and reel myself back in.
The truth of it is, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone and I’m certain that we could all benefit from being a little more simple (check out the documentary called “The Minimalists” to learn more about the benefits of focusing on a “less in more” lifestyle). Thanks to the swimmers who joined me on that Friday for the reminder! 🙂
Until next time…