You Wouldn’t Run a Race Without Training, So Why Are You Running Through Life Without Conditioning Your Brain?

Every day you’re running. You’re hustling your butt, and for what?

You’re running because, well, that’s what we all do. That’s what a person with good work ethic does, and the person who has a dream, or a vision. The person who not only wants to make things happen, but must.

Must because it’s part of their internal make-up. Must because they’re fed up. Because change needs to happen.

This needs to happen.

It’s the running that gets you there.

When you hear interviews with the people who have made it, the ones you admire, the ones with the platforms and the audience and the product sales and the god damn clout, they talk about the running — the long nights, the weary mornings, the thin margins.

Running gets things done. But….

Say I asked you to run a marathon. And it’s tomorrow. And you haven’t trained. For, like, two years.

Crazy, right? You’d say no way. (I hope.)

You would know that your body needs to build up the capacity to run that kind of distance. You would know that your lungs had to build up their oxygen capacity, that your muscles had to get stronger, that your heart needed an improved ability to circulate blood.

That running without training could actually be detrimental to your health. It could, in fact, kill you.

So why are you running the daily rat race without any training? Without developing your capacity to absorb the regular and consistent shocks of a frenetic life without disrupting your inner physiology?

Because it isn’t done. No one talks about it.

We’re all just somehow supposed to have the internal capacity to handle ever-increasing amounts of daily frenzy without losing our shit.

Well, look around you. How’s that working out?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

A few days ago, I was watching a video about horse training, looking for tips to help me wrangle my mustang, who continues to be simultaneously my greatest joy, and my biggest frustration.

Something clicked.

The guy in the video started talking about horses and their nervous systems. Specifically, he referenced the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems.

And what he said coalesced disparate knowledge floating among various regions of my brain into one cohesive concept.

Horses get easily frightened. They’re prey animals; their survival relies on their ability to sense danger and run immediately, if not sooner. They’ll fight if they’re out of options, but they’re poorly equipped for battle.

For a rider, this instinct is a big problem. Because “danger” can be the guy on a neon-orange mountain bike who popped out of the bushes just a little too suddenly and frightened the horse.

Or a plastic bag blowing on the ground.

Or a loud, sudden noise.

Or…. (so many things).

You can’t possibly desensitize your horse to every damn thing. You don’t know the future and you don’t know what kind of stuff will come up.

And more to the point — as this horse trainer elucidated — once the stimulus occurs and your horse spooks, there’s really nothing you can do to fix the situation in that moment, aside from regaining control and hopefully not dying.

What you do instead is train them to move between activation and relaxation. You stimulate their nervous system, and then you soothe it. Take the horse up, bring him back down.

And what you’ll notice is the horse starts coming back to you. He startles when the neighboring horses gallop in their pasture, but he doesn’t run.

He tenses when you accidentally brush his body in an unexpected way, but he doesn’t move his feet.

Through this process, the trainer expands the horse’s window of tolerance — i.e. his capacity for frenzy.

Just like your lungs expand to take in and better utilize oxygen when you practice running.

And the horse also recovers faster.

Just like the heart rate of a fit person will drop more rapidly after an intense bout of exercise.

After some time — the amount of time will, of course, differ for every horse because, biodiversity — the horse can observe something scary without losing his shit (or his rider).

But at the moment of stimulus, it’s too late to engage the training. The training absolutely must occur before the frightening event, or the horse’s nervous system isn’t able to handle the stress and he loses it.

I’ve seen this happen with Shelby multiple times in the year that I’ve had him. Something is too much for him; it terrifies him and he checks out. His reaction is usually a blind bolt toward the nearest exit.

Imagine this same thing happening inside your head. Stress builds, your (untrained) nervous system gets activated, but it’s too much stimulus for your system to handle.

Your brain is a wild horse bolting for the horizon.

How the hell are you going to harness that?

Let’s ask a different question: what if you never got stressed beyond your ability to handle things?

Trust me, it’s far easier to catch a horse that isn’t bolting in the opposite direction.

In fact, I used to know a kung fu master who would run up mountains for conditioning. He wisely counseled me: if you never lose your breath, you don’t have to catch it.

Or, if your horse never bolts, you don’t have to chase him.

Put another way, if you expand your capacity for stress — your ability to handle unexpected change, overwhelming deadlines or sheer volume of creative demand — you won’t have to take weeks to recover.

You won’t have to run after your poor, wearied brain and coax it back to the barn because it’ll never leave in the first place.

This is exactly what Somato-Sensory Attention Training is about — it’s not just body awareness, it’s actually working to expand your resilience. To make you more able to handle life’s ins and outs without getting bent out of shape.

Check it out here >>

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