Wednesday, August 09, 2006

There are back doors to your brain. There are a million ways to override your brain and your muscles and your nerves and to make them believe things that just aren't true. Back before I wrote this blog an worked at magazines and newspapers and lost my soul I got payed to play sports for a year and wear a stupid corporate logo on my chest like a shield over my heart. Back then we would spend entire days training our bodies and minds, not just to become stronger, faster, and more agile, but to process the impossible as if it were the likely. It wasn't miraculous. It was routine. Pure training. Somewhere between conscious and subconscious.

It all started with oatmeal. Every practice morning I ate a huge bowl of maple & brown sugar oatmeal. And on competition days, or on days when I was told to fake my body into thinking it was a competition day, I would eat apple cinnamon oatmeal.

I laughed in the face of coaches and trainers when they first started me on this program. Different Breakfasts? Come on. But nearly a month into the season something spectacular started to happen. Each time the flavor of apple cinnamon oatmeal hit my tongue, my eyes shot open, I felt a sudden surge of energy, pouring out of my stomach all the way to the ends of my fingers and toes. It's so on, my body said.

Maybe it was just nerves? One night I decided to test it all. It was 10 p.m. and I threw a cup of water into the microwave and hit the 2-minute button. I'd already had a few drinks, hoping that maybe those would help disprove the ridiculous "programming." It only took 2 bites and I couldn't fall asleep until 4 a.m.

It didn't stop at Oatmeal. The way I breathed, the way I stretched, the music I listened to and the things I said to myself out loud. And every time I'd turn into something else. A machine, programmed to run almost on auto pilot. And that's when amazing things would happen. Because when you don't need any concentration to balance, to pull, to run, to catch, to jump, to recover, it's all free to strategize, to eek out extra speed. That's when an athlete becomes superhuman to everyone else.

To this day I'll make myself a bowl of apple-cinnamon oatmeal before a really important day. But I learned one lesson the hard way. "Are you OK? You look like you're ready to jump up and run right out of here." I was. Makes me wonder what else I could make my body do with enough time and patience.

P.S. Dear google search ferries: Thank you for possibly finding the best oatmeal pick I could have ever asked for.

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