Dakota L. Jackson

What I’ve learned from running in a circle very fast

Track and field may seem like a sport that requires a lot of technical knowledge, analyzing form, and perfecting drills.

 However at its simplest, it’s a binary sport: you run, get results, and run again. There are no rec or pick-up track meets to boost your confidence if you run poorly at a competition.

So how do I stay motivated? How can I use it to aid me?

Many people say that track and field is 10% physical and 90% mental, but that doesn’t mean mental toughness alone guarantees victory. If that were the case, we’d see military and motivational experts dominating the sport. Instead, the key to success lies in what I call “mental optimization.”

I did this by switching my focus

You see I don’t run track for external validation.

The source is from within. I use it to see more of myself.

I’ve learned that when I get too caught up in drill specifics, competition, and rankings, I become detached from reality. But when I focus on developing a fundamental way of living and being, everything becomes simpler and more fulfilling.

What is the Way?

Miyamoto Musashi a famous samurai philosopher once said “if you know the way broadly you will see it in all things”

I always admired the samurai or Shaolin monks’ ability to display so much raw power and brutality yet somehow their technique is so precise, pristine, relaxed, and artistic in a way.

You see, by focusing on adjacent qualities like the person I’m becoming, how I interact with those around me, and how can I control this energy within me? I had found a deeper understanding of myself and the sport. I found a balance, balance in technical knowledge of how to run, but also purpose in why I run.

In the context of track and field, Musashi’s teachings can offer insights into the importance of developing a broad understanding of the sport and focusing on the fundamentals. This can involve analyzing forms, perfecting drills, and building a strong foundation of technical knowledge. However, it’s important to balance this with a focus on mental optimization and finding one’s own way and flow.

 I believe that in order to win in life, you must find your “way” and “flow,” and this should be powerful and seamless. It’s not about running hard and rugged, but about being relaxed and reaching smoothness. The goal is to develop precision in the areas that matter and the confidence to know that you are a force to be reckoned with.

Once I developed a fundamental way or “flow state” of how I wanted to live, everything started making more sense.

Finding Balance

There is also another philosophy predicated on this known as Taoism. In Taoism, there is this concept of  “wu wei,” which is often translated as “effortless action.” It doesn’t mean do nothing, but rather finding the most efficient and effective way of doing things.

And how is this efficiency achieved? By consistent self-reflection and recognition of your state of mind and your purpose. What worked for me might not work for you.

I tried to compete without any attachments or desires or at least a nobler one. (getting closer to God, testing my discipline, inspiring others, etc.)

When you have noble aspirations and discernment good things come to you, but when you’re too focused on trampling on others or vanity and fame those emotions will stay and haunt you.

If you find that deeper meaning, and understand how it relates to your overall life then you perform ( in anything) with precision and power, and without the added stress of a constant chip on your shoulder.

A question I might ask myself is “Am I researching these drills to beat everyone and post it on Instagram? Or am I doing it to test myself and actualize my potential?”

The nobler answer the “broader” way is what keeps me going. And keeps me confident that I will overcome any obstacle.

At the end of the day, these are just thoughts; I urge you to take what may be useful, embrace your own truth, and maybe we can meet on the way.

– Your friend Kota

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