Let’s embrace complexity—and work to understand it.

Some of the posts on this blog will be highly technical; others will be tailored for the beginner athlete and the layman in systems. One of my most deeply held beliefs is that for a western athlete, performance is achieved through knowledge.

Therefore, my mission for this blog is to acquaint the casual athlete with technical concepts in systems thinking, sports psychology, and biomechanics. As I alluded to in this post, the vast majority of us don’t have the necessary upbringing and the cultural surroundings to “simply run.” It must be learned. It is vital that we not only learn the knowledge of how to run, but that we internalize two ideas: firstly, that we must learn to run uninjured and free—that for many of us this freedom will not just “appear”—but also that learning, that is, developing ever greater and more complex knowledge of running, (and not just stronger muscles), is where true speed lies.

After all, the body has limits. There are limits to muscle power, and lung capacity—genetic ones, even. But limits to learning? Not so much. Our brains, and our creativity, are the greatest equalizers. He or she who can rely on pure muscle power born from genetics, go ahead. But for the rest of us mere mortals, well, there are many, many variables that we can manipulate: food, energy, sleep, hormones, love, how our feet strike the trail, the sharpness of our mind, the ferocity with which we speed by a fellow competitor—all these are fair game. The physical, the mental, the emotional, the spiritual.

There are systems aplenty to manipulate, if we want to achieve excellence.

But we must learn how to use these systems. We must step outside of our comfort zone, and allow ourselves to transform by the weight of our knowledge, coupled with the weight of our training. And with enough time, dedication, and attention, we too will become exemplars of speed.

Let’s not be overwhelmed by new knowledge. Let’s not back away, and let’s not stick to the familiar. Let’s embrace the complexity of the body. Let’s become comfortable with it—and get to know it. The body is a system, and as such it is highly sophisticated. But that sophistication is built out of astounding simplicity. The more that we get to know how sophisticated the body is, the more its predictability, and its hidden simplicity, will stand out to us.

But there is no way to that end, except through knowledge.

(And perhaps through meditation—but that’s another story).

Ultimately, the purpose of this blog is to make complex systems and biomechanics concepts amenable to the layman, and to the beginner athlete. But excellence is not achieved through sound bites. Performance is not achieved through inspirational remarks. It takes time, deliberation, and attention.

And most of all, in my opinion, it takes an understanding of, and a comfort with, complexity.

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