When You Lose Control

February 28th

Remember that the tools and aims of our training are unaffected by the turbulence of the moment. Stop. Regain your composure. It’s waiting for you. – The Daily Stoic

The teachings did not fail, we failed the teachings.

You didn’t lose the race because the training was off. You don’t have to throw everything out the window and try a completely new program.

You simply didn’t execute on race day. The fitness was developed, and is still there for you. Keep up the work, and get your head right next time.

…that is, unless you ascribe to direct interpretations of holy texts, and used badly done Crossfit as a training program. In that case, time for an overhaul. Trust me.

Hail. In PHX. Wtf. (Still, I shouldn’t complain. Montreal is experiencing an usual winter heat wave, and there are few things I despise more than slush.)

Starting to learn brachial plexus, making my way through Crucial Accountability, knocking off a few videos of Complexity Explorer at a time. I don’t think I’ve added this much new knowledge in such a short span of time since undergrad and my peak of fitness blog reading. I like to believe the quality of the material I’m absorbing these days is of a higher level.

Cultivating Indifference Where Others Grow Passion

“Of all the things that are, some are good, others bad, and yet others indifferent. The good are virtues and all that share in them; the bad are the vices and all that indulge them; the indifferent lie in between virtue and vice and include wealth, health, life, death, pleasure, and pain.” – Epictetus, Discourses, 2.19.12b-13

The book goes on to describe how Seneca had a life of many privileges. “He enjoyed them while they were there, but he accepted that they might someday disappear.” I feel this hits the balance I’ve been speaking about previously. Indifference doesn’t mean coldness. “It’s not about avoidance or shunning, but rather not giving any possible outcome more power or preference than is appropriate.”

Maybe a more stoic way of saying this?

Do your best (virtue), do it with honesty (avoid vice), and let everything else fall wherever it wants (indifference)? Again, I find that often, focusing less on the end goal tends to get you there…maybe not faster, but certainly in a healthier and more sustainable way.

Jas got to fangirl with some SEALs. He talked about how in these teams, who deal with “hardcore shit”, it’s never about being the tough guy who can get shit done without help. They never last. You have to develop the connections, and become a collection that is more than the sum of its parts. The key to that is empowerment.

Thinking of how we have specific warm-ups depending on the quality that is being worked on. Always trying to include elements of the primary skill to be developed in the warm-up, to provide more context for the session at hand, and more reps to learn from. I know that back home, our warm-ups tend to be quite generic. It just takes more thought, but it’s definitely something I can improve on.

What’s the physiological quality I’m trying to develop? What’s the skill element I’m trying to emphasize? This should be the start to developing the warm-up.

Oh, and running starts. Gotta use more running starts.

Trying to See the Matrix

February 24th : The Real Source of Harm

Our reaction is what actually decides whether harm has occurred. If we feel that we’ve been wronged or get angry, of course that’s how it will seem. If we raise our voice because we feel we’re being confronted, naturally a confrontation will ensue.
But if we retain control of ourselves, we decide whether to label something good or bad. In fact, if that same event happened to us at different points in our lifetime, we might have very different reactions. So why not choose now to not apply these labels? Why not choose not to react? – The Daily Stoic

I imagine this idea is the basis behind the saying that the best way to get rid of bullies is to not give them the satisfaction of knowing they hurt you. (that was poorly phrased, but you understood) Though I can certainly agree, it must be incredibly hard for a child/teenager, an age where a person is figuring out their personal identity, and how they fit in society, to adopt this philosophy. Most adults have yet to feel comfortable enough in their skin that they could deflect all insults.

I feel that the ability to fully inhabit stoicism will depend a lot on your comfort with accepting yourself. Once you are released from your need for external validation, it is much easier to let things slide.

I think this might be again why I feel there is such an importance that a sports team be clear on what its driving philosophy is. As long as you focus on staying true to it, the external stresses become less important. I wouldn’t be surprised that this will also lead to more sporting success.

February 25th : The Smoke and Dust of Myth

Eventually, all of us will pass away and slowly be forgotten. We should enjoy this brief time we have on earth – not be enslaved to emotions that make us miserable and dissatisfied. – The Daily Stoic


He’s named that way for a reason.

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
OzymandiasPercy Shelley

Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV. – Morty Smith

Peace Among Worlds! 


You can continue defying entropy by trying to be eternal – through the creation of art, through the education of your offspring, through your contribution to society. Nietzsche dedicated his life to figuring this out. Just know that the act of infusing meaning and purpose to your life also implies suffering. The Oatmeal did a great job of exploring this idea.

I think here, there’s a distinction to be made between the suffering that external circumstances can cause – suffering that we don’t want, yet sometimes let ourselves be victims of – and suffering that we choose to go through, in our relentless pursuit towards something greater. If this self-imposed suffering is greater than the passion related to your pursuit, then you aren’t pursuing the right passion.

February 26th : To Each his Own

“Another has done me wrong? Let him see to it. He has his own tendencies, and his own affairs. What I have now is what the common nature has willed, and what I endeavor to accomplish now is what my nature wills.”
– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 5.25

Something I heard many times is that when somebody slights you, you must stand your ground. You don’t want to start letting people think that they can walk all over you.

I think the key here is to make a proper judgement of the situation.

  • Is this matter something I hold dear?
  • Will the effort of defending myself cause me more harm than it is worth?

Where I’ve had problems in the past is when I was around people who felt that everything required a response, since everything was an attack on their person. I think my response is that if the demand pertains to something that needs to be done regardless, then let it slide. If it’s about something inconsequential, tell them “no”. You won’t bother with their attitude over something that is of no importance. Finally, if the demand is important, but the manner it was asked is reprehensible, defend your tolerance level.

…Am I suggesting to act like an erupting volcano? Nothing…nothing…nothing…BAM!

Hmm…I guess it depends on how you defend yourself. I need to think about this more, and it’s late. Next time.

A look into one of the most successful people in the world, and a reminder that everybody’s strengths are also their weaknesses. Everybody can gain from working on some balance.

I was reminded how bare-bones Altis is. As an outsider, we should look at this as something comforting : all you really need is great staff, dedicated athletes and a minimum of facilities to develop world class athletes. This means that it doesn’t take much to replicate this kind of environment anywhere! Though to be fair, I think my previous statement can make people underestimate the value of great staff, and how rare it really is.

Stu is granting me a look into his brain. I’m going to take an attempt at organizing it, drawing out some kind of mind map, and helping him deepen the exploration of certain nodes. Wish me luck.

Finally trying out some Four Sigmatic after hearing about it from Jason Ross. I believe he had posted a fascinating video that got me interested in the power of mushrooms. Very curious to see what a month worth of supplementation with this will do.

Also, definitely curious about trying out some blood marker tracking, either from InsideTracker with their DIY program or WellnessFX and their free program. Honestly, might consider doing both just to see what each has to say.

Circumstances Have No Care for Our Feelings

February 23rd

“You shouldn’t give circumstances the power to rouse anger, for they don’t care at all.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 7.38

Maybe it’s being self-centered. If everything revolves around you, then everything must be happen with you in mind.

Maybe it’s a protection mechanism. Being angry at something out of our control displaces the responsibility from us to them.

Either way, it’s wrong.

Not only do circumstances not care, they can’t care. Circumstances aren’t sentient beings.

They have no inherent evil. Notice the wording : “You shouldn’t give circumstances the power to rouse anger…”

Remember this when the race didn’t go your way. “Life” isn’t out to get you. “Life” couldn’t care less. Sport certainly doesn’t. (one of my all time favorite videos)


IK has convinced me to take advantage of the time and opportunity I have right now and learn some manual therapy. If I am to grow as a coach, I can’t continue depending on fellow therapists, because I won’t always have access to that.

#Inspire #Connect #Educate #Perform

What’s Better Left Unsaid

Febrary 22nd

“I begin to speak only when I’m certain what I’ll say isn’t better left unsaid.” – Plutarch, Cato the Younger, 4

Stu has spoken about this before.

Knowledge is most certainly valuable, but only when the recipient needs it, and is ready for it.

Design the training so that the exercise is the one doing the teaching, aka Constraint Based Coaching. Athletes will retain more when they figure things out themselves, instead of being spoon-fed.

Themes of the day : Communication, introspection, constant self-improvement, make sure you’ve done everything you can, but don’t be afraid to cut a toxic relationship out. #JJ

Two Thoughts on Thirst Traps

I just wanted the “All words start with the letter T”, but the general idea is still good.

February 20th : The Grand Parade of Desire

“Robbers, perverts, killers, and tyrants – gather for your inspection their so-called pleasures!” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 6.34

Pay a critical eye to the pleasures you allow yourself. Look closely at those who have allowed themselves those pleasures : are they really examples you want to model your life around? What might be harmless now can lead you down a slippery slope. Keeping in mind where this can lead helps put these pleasures in context. At the very least, it can help enhance moderation.

Reflect on opportunity cost : the cost in time, money and energy. All these resources are finite, and you could be spending them on things that are dearer to you. You end up with momentary happiness, and accomplishing nothing you are proud of.

The deepest regrets you hear of are more often related to inaction. Trying something and failing will hurt, but you at least are left with lessons that can allow for growth. Doing nothing risks nothing, and brings nothing.

What black holes (video games, partying, drugs, objects of lust) in your life are taking resources away from your potential?

Dare to be great.

February 21st : Wish Not, Want Not

“Remember that it’s not only the desire for wealth and position that debases and subjugates us, but also the desire for peace, leisure, travel, and learning. It doesn’t matter what the external thing is, the value we place on it subjugates us to another…where our heart is set, there our impediment lies.” – Epictetus, Discourses, 4.4.1-2; 15

Tl;dr : What we desire makes us vulnerable.

Interestingly enough, I find that often times, when we stop trying hard, we end up with exactly what we wanted in the first place.

Who is attracted to somebody who feels desperate?

How many sprinters have gotten injured from trying to hard?

Who ever found happiness by actively looking for it?

re: MVP shake for Max
The most addictive form of reinforcement is the random one. Think of slot machines. You never know when you’ll get your next high. Maybe this next round will be The One. Think of that when giving praise.

There is a special level of learning you get from peaking. Doing something you’ve never done before is a unique stimulus, and one with great teaching potential. For dragon boat, this probably explains my accelerated growth in the sport. Definite implications here regarding roster rotations. Put a low-level intermediate paddler in the top boat, because what better place to understand boat feel than a team that already has it.

Bonus : potential big motivation boost. What’s more exciting than feeling what real speed feels like? Anybody who’s been on the national team in dragon boat knows what I mean.

Weekend Thoughts

February 18th : Prepare for the Storm

“This is the true athlete – the person in rigorous training against false impressions. Remain firm, you who suffer, don’t be kidnapped by your impressions! The struggle is great, the task divine – to gain mastery, freedom, happiness, and tranquility.” – Epictetus, Discourses, 2.18.27-28

As we train our bodies for the unknowable and inevitable challenges ahead, so should we train our minds. It isn’t sufficient to simply know about these skills, but we should actively practice and exercise these abilities.

Combine hard interval sessions with breathing skills to help maintain composure over fatigue.

Race with unpredictable pacing strategies (both yours and your opponents), to see how you deal with surprises.

Remind yourself of your driving purpose as you enter the race.

The struggle is great, the task divine…

February 19th : The Banquet of Life

“Remember to conduct yourself in life as if at a banquet. As something being passed around comes to you, reach out your hand and take a moderate helping. Does it pass you by? Don’t stop it. It hasn’t yet come? Don’t burn in desire for it, but wait until it arrives in front of you. Act this way with children, a spouse, toward position, with wealth – one day it will make you worthy of a banquet with the gods.” – Epictetus, Enchiridion, 15

I’ll admit, this one leaves me feeling…I don’t know.

Really, the only part that leaves me feeling odd is the idea of taking a “moderate helping”. I understand the idea that to fully protect yourself from pain, we shouldn’t get overly attached to anything. I’ve spoken before about the etymological roots of the word “passion”. At the same time, I can’t help but feel that when given an opportunity, you shouldn’t waste it. If you are going to do something, do it with full intent.

Rebel against entropy.

I simply balance this out with a recognition that 1) everything will end, and 2) when it does, am the one who chooses how to react to the loss. I can turn it into a lesson that I can apply to my next endeavor.

Romantic during, stoic after? Parallels how the best act in sporting events : fully convinced they can win when in the midst of battle, but rational about the circumstances afterwards…

Easy to say, not so sure it’s easy to do.

Or maybe I just love eating too much…

Another Triple Post

February 15th : Only Bad Dreams

“Clear your mind and get a hold on yourself and, as when awakened from sleep and realizing it was only a bad dream upsetting you, wake up and see that what’s there is just like those dreams.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 6.31

Before he told us to stay woke, he made a similar comment about how getting upset at a dream doesn’t make much sense.

It’s important that when we are upset, we take the time to figure out what exactly is upsetting us. More often than not, we are not reacting to fact, but to our interpretation of the facts. This mistake is a key feature of the fundamental attribution error.

Robbie mentioned over dinner last night that to take things personally is to be self-centeredNot everything is about you…

February 16th : Don’t Make Things Harder Than They Need to Be

Life (and our job) is difficult enough. Let’s not make it harder by getting emotional about insignificant matters or digging in for battles we don’t actually care about. Let’s not let emotion get in the way of Kathēkon, the simple, appropriate actions on the path to virtue. – The Daily Stoic

Similar ideas here. A book that had an early influence on me is Crucial Conversations (and a thank you to Neil Rampe for reminding me to read the sequel, Crucial Confrontations!). I’m paraphrasing, but it speaks of reminding ourselves what the end goal is to our conversations. This helps us stay on path with the responses we use, instead of going off into insults or retreating into silence.

I feel that today’s message in the same spirit. We must be able to separate the message from the messenger. Issues we might have with the latter should not taint how we react to the former. Do your best to always assume benevolence.

When you are part of a team, sometimes you need to be told something you don’t want to hear. Conversely, you might have a teammate that you don’t particularly like. In either case, it’s useful to remember that in the end, we’re all working towards the same goal. This will help us stay focused on succeeding together.

February 17th : The Enemy of Happiness

“It is quite impossible to unite happiness with a yearning for what we don’t have. Happiness has all that it wants, and resembling the well-fed, there shouldn’t be hunger or thirst.” – Epictetus, Discourses, 3.24.17

I’ll be happy when I have a gold medal around my neck.

By this standard, high probability you won’t be happy. Why put your state of mind at risk this way?

Something we’ve already touched before : even if you succeed, you have no guarantee of happiness either.

Sing it, Gnarls.

A big thank you to Robbie for being the connector to the dinner last night. Neil Rampe lived up to and exceeded his reputation of being an amazing individual, both personally and professionally.

  • Share and recreate vs talk and reproduce. A concept from Landmark Worldwide, which had many parallels with the Crucial Conversation stuff. The ability to connect as it is related to effective communication is something I will definitely need as I move forward with The Open Project.

When learning a new skill, you start completely uncoordinated. So many joints and no idea how to make them work in harmony, like an orchestra where nobody has decided on what to play yet. This is when your instructor/coach/conductor works on decreasing the chaos. Set the rules against which the skill will anchor itself.

At this point, you are now a robot. Your skill is confined to the exact manner you know it. This is not robust, since sport is not predictable. New opponent, new environment, new time of day, new equipment…What you need to do now is to reintroduce chaos. This is uncomfortable, but helps teach you how to adapt and intelligently break the rules.

I’m starting to think the same should be said about all learning, really. An apprentice coach needs to be given some instruction, or else they are overwhelmed with information and don’t know what to focus on. Once this is settled, we need to challenge the apprentice by placing them in new situations, with different teams, with language barriers…


Think Before You Act

February 14th

Why did I do that? you’ve probably asked yourself. We all have. How could I have been so stupid? What was I thinking?
You weren’t. That’s the problem. Within that head of yours is all the reason and intelligence you need. It’s making sure that it’s deferred to and utilized that’s the tough part. It’s making sure that your mind is in charge, not your emotions, not your immediate physical sensations, not your surging hormones.
Fix your attention on your intelligence. Let it do its thing. – The Daily Stoic

Hmm. This one surprised me at first. I can certainly agree with the general message : if you stay calm and rational, you won’t make bad choices. Problem is that we always do, even when we were in the best state of mind. How do I then explain the idea that I have “all the reason and intelligence you need”?

I imagine that the proper way of seeing it would be to say : if I come to regret a choice that was made after proper thought, it’s likely because of a new piece of information I didn’t have at the time. I shouldn’t regret this, though, because it can be considered outside of my control. Nobody can be expected to know all relevant information at all times.

Think before you act, whether its about trying a new training supplement, how to react after a big win or loss, or in the middle of a big race. I can see this applying very much to both athlete AND coach.

Took a bunch of block start videos to look at in slow-mo. I’ll review them with Chidi to get some feedback on my abilities. Excited to do this!

Now on day 7 of using Headspace. Unsure of how much of an effect it has, but that might also be because I consider myself to have a generally calm demeanor. I can’t recall many times feeling like my mind was overwhelmed. That said, I do find that at very least, the simple ritual of taking the time – just 10 minutes – to focus on myself does generally leave me feeling better. Can’t complain with that!

February 12th and 13th

Protect your Peace of Mind

So yes, use Stoicism to manage these difficulties. But don’t forget to ask: Is this really the life I want? Every time you get upset, a little bit of life leaves the body. Are these really the things on which you want to spend that priceless resource? Don’t be afraid to make a change – a big one. – The Daily Stoic

Continuing on the lesson from a week ago, we are reminded that even if bestowed with the invincibility of a stoic mind, one must consider the possibility that there are easier paths to your goals.

Nevermind the fact that most of us do not have that level of invincibility.

This can feel a bit paradoxical. Were we not told previously that we shouldn’t seek to avoid the distractions? I feel that the key difference is the goal you are pursuing. The Zen philosopher, as far as I understand it, is seeking satori. It is a very personal pursuit, and so the best way to achieve it might very well be to migrate to the mountains. A Stoic still has a commitment to the world around him, which will likely imply some level of challenges. It then makes sense for the Stoic to choose the path of least resistance towards achieving his responsibilities to the world. He gets to fulfill his duties as efficiently as possible, and will be prepared for the inevitable challenges that he will face in accomplishing them.

A sound mind will help you put in the hard work through the difficult times, because you will know to perceive these challenges as only that. Here, we ask that you also work smart, so that you only need to work hard when absolutely necessary.

Pleasure Can Become Punishment

It’s important to connect the so-called temptation with its actual effects. Once you understand that indulging might actually be worse than resisting, the urge begins to lose its appeal. In this way, self-control becomes the real pleasure, and the temptation becomes the regret. – The Daily Stoic

It’s very interesting to read this the day after going through this article on willpower (many thanks to Dragan for sharing this!) and resembles much a post I can’t find anymore by my Wu-Tang brother about how sleeping in late is to value the immediate above the future self.

I find the idea of reframing situations that would demand “willpower” as a bargain between your present and future self very cool, and look forward to experimenting with it on myself.

I wonder how this changes (or not) my approach to mental skills training for racing.

Today’s Memento Mori, courtesy of The New Yorker : When Things Go Missing

Training thoughts

  • I found the P&P today quite interesting. After a good warm-up, 30min of self-regulated potentiation. Three options were presented, and the athletes were left to pick which one they felt helped them best, and what rest times they needed. A cool idea to play with more experienced athletes.
  • I don’t find my coaching eye is improving the way I want it to, so I started bringing my iPad to be able to do more slow-mo filming. That said, it was encouraging to hear Forrest, a fellow intern, mention how he felt the same way. That is, until he went to a HS indoor meet, and realized that he was able to see far more things.
  • Self-talk can always be improved, even at the highest levels. Negative spirals happen, even to the bests.
  • re: Regen days, there’s a balance that needs to be struck between doing exercises effectively, without getting to the point of demanding excessive focus.
  • Some athletes are reporting some issues with blocks, but all other acceleration work indicates that they are picking up on all the appropriate principles. If there is a difference, the issue might lie more in the athlete treating the blocks as something special. It shouldn’t, and it isn’t.
    • Solution starts with us, the coaches, treating the blocks no differently. If they see us acting nonchalantly about it, it’ll be easier for them to follow suit.
  • Although it might be easier to teach an athlete on his/her good days, it is probably better to teach on his/her bad days.
  • When planning the next cycle, think of three things :
    • what to stop
    • what to start
    • what to continue
  • Thinking about how one should periodize R&R, and mental skill training…