Monday, September 25th 2017
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2007
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Rowing, endorphins and pain management: Power Ten

Power 10

BY SOUL’S CODE — Rowing is a grueling sport. The 2000 meter races generally last about six minutes but your body goes to anerobic respiration, and produces painful lactic acid in your muscles, within the first 90 seconds.

Preparing your mind can be as an important as training your muscles. You have to stay strong for the entire race, no matter how tired your body tells you it is. It requires you to accept pain without letting it cause you to suffer.

Rowers have an ally in their pain management: the coxswain. The “cox” steers the boat and calls a cadence to keep the rowers in sync with each other. Imagine the guy that beats the drum at the front of the slave ship, only small enough to fit into one of the skinny rowing boats you’ve probably seen in the Olympics.

Coxes come up with all kinds of tricks to keep their rowers motivated when the pain kicks in. It’s a big part of their job. One of the most popular techniques is to call for a “Power Ten,” or ten strokes at 110% power an all-out effort for a measured number of strokes.

A Power Ten is a cheap way to accelerate the boat past a competitor. And one hopes that the momentum from a Ten extends for another several hundred meters after the last stroke. But you can’t do too many power tens or it defeats the purpose. You might expect to see two power tens in a 2000 meter race and they would account for less than 10% of the total strokes taken during a race. Do too many Tens and you’ll exhaust the crew before the race is over.

You don’t take a break after the ten, you just return to normal, 100% effort and power, the kind you can sustain for the duration of a race.

Apply this trick from the world of Olympic athletics to your life and see what happens. Set asside time for something you have to do, or want to do, and go nuts on it for a finite period of time. Say to yourself: “I’m going to spend X amount of time on project Y. During this time, I’m going to give it my all and then some. Pour everything I’ve got into it and see what happens.” But don’t let it stop there, take the momentum you develop during your Power Ten and carry it every day aft

You’re likely to surprise yourself with what you can accomplish in a short period of time when you really put your all into it. It’s a great motivator.

Look around and you’ll see plenty of opportunities to do a Power Ten in something that matters to you.

Just look at the National Novel Writing Month phenomenon: you start writing on November 1st and go until November 30th with the aim at writing 50,000 words toward your novel. Authors across the globe annually write about a billion words.

It’s spawned another creative venture called Script Frenzy, where you write a 20,000 word screen play during the month of June. Imagine the creative energy unleashed during that short period of time. Try it once and you’ll blow yourself away with the amazing things that’ll spew out of you.

Then you can carry that creativity into everything else you do, even if you never touch the novel or script again. That’s the idea behind the Power Ten: stun yourself with your own ability and you’ll be re-energized for everything else you do.

It seems counter-intuitive: how can a huge expenditure of energy actually give me more energy? The Power Ten should be a catalyst for a much bigger reaction rather than an energy suck.

Try it for yourself. Find something you want to do, set a time limit or an accomplishment goal and go tooth and nail until you get there. Drop the hammer and see what happens.

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