Your mind is the devil

.... is exactly what I heard from a deep voice that was not only behind me, but coming up fast as I was roller skiing my way along a deserted two lane road while training very early last Saturday morning. 

Concerning? Yep.

The person from which both the voice and these words came from however, couldn't have come at a better time. As he quickly met up with me and kept pace while I was training (easy to do as he was on a bicycle, and looked as if he was BORN on a bicycle despite his advanced years) he continued to instruct me on how to manage the delicate and constant battle between mind and body as we moved along the road. "Your legs are the wheels, your heart is the engine, your eyes are to keep focus on the destination in which you are moving, and your mind - your mind is the devil so get rid of it, its useless!" is what he kept saying. All of this well before introducing himself or letting any commonplace pleasantry get in the way of his new found persistence in bettering me as an athlete. Seriously - amazing guy.

We moved down the road together for about 4 kilometres - the whole time with constant nudging about what I was concentrating on, listening to my body or my mind. We came to a fork in the road where our paths would separate, only then did he tell me his name was Drago and that he was a professional athlete racing for Serbia for many years - and with a kind nod he said "keep that devil away and you will do just fine in your race"... funny as I didn't get a word in edgewise to actually tell him what I was training for. Seriously, amazing guy.

The theme continued as I found myself on a yoga mat for the first time in over a year - attending a yin yoga class last night. The instructor said something that really stuck with me, as I was face to the floor with my right arm somewhere my left leg usually is. In a calm, caring voice (quite the contrast from my brief time with the Serbian coach) she said that as we are holding our poses - to remember that we're not just training our bodies but our minds. It is important to focus on whats going on with the body and let the mind go - then we will strengthen our focus and other challenges in life will seem to become easier as we will know how to direct our mental attention in the appropriate time. I could only choose to agree that yes forgetting my ferry pass at home is less stressful now that I know what my left ankle looks like from all angles.


Seriously though - the mind is a truly wonderful thing that we are fortunate enough to be able to use, but we have to have the fortitude to know when not to let it use us. Im still learning this..

I know I will certainly be recalling the words of both of these people when pushing myself along the tracks in Vasaloppet... Where in life will you need to remind yourself of the same?

3 months and 3 days until race day..

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Josh