Friday, January 22, 2010

DVD Review “Back to Utopia” by Terry Lyles

I enjoyed this inspirational DVD by Dr. Terry Lyles. Dr. Lyles teaches that our response in the face of stress dictates the path of our lives.

What most helped me as a runner were Dr. Lyles’ comments on Navy Seal training. Lyles explained the ‘drownproofing’ exercise that Navy Seal recruits undergo as part of their training. They are briefed on what will happen in the exercise, but Dr. Lyles points out that just talking about getting tied up and getting tied up are two different things. Once the Seals are physically tied up and led to the pool, they have to deal with emotional stress and fear reactions.

If the Seal recruits don't handle their reactions, they let the situation and others around them handle and control their emotions. This happens in running, too. If the race is important enough to me, I will experience fear at the starting line. On the morning of my half marathon, I woke up terrified. I know that if I do not put myself into a more positive, confident emotional state, I will be guaranteed a poor performance.

Lyles pointed out that challenge and fear are two sides of the same coin. He recommends ‘flipping’ fear into a challenge to handle it. In January 2009, I was sure that I could not finish the Boilermaker. As late as June 2009, I was sure I could not run 13 miles. It could never happen. The 15K race and the Half Marathon were both fears until I made them into challenges. I committed to running the races, took action to find and follow a training plan that would strengthen my body to finish the races, put myself in the company of runners that believed in my ability to run the race and arrived at the starting line positive that I could accomplish my goal and motivated to succeed.

My strength comes from handling weakness. I would not be as motivated of a runner if running came easy and injury free to me. Experiencing injury and handling it successfully to become healed and stronger than before has made me a better runner and opened my mind to expect success in other areas of my life as well. Dr. Lyles calls this ‘failing forward,’ stating that mistakes are useful if we make each mistake only once and learn from our mistakes. As a runner, there are many races in my life. I am prepared to learn from each one, using my mistakes to improve my racing technique and my finishing times.

Dr. Lyles also shared a great definition of emotional health. He said that the measure of performance is how quickly one bounces back, specifically one’s recovery time from distraction. This is critically important in a race. If I run a mile too slowly, do I beat myself up for it mentally for the next ten minutes, lowering my emotional state and allowing fear and frustration to take over, or do I note the mistake and return to a positive state before formulating a strategy to recoup the time? Dr. Lyles says that it is OK to be frustrated, but asks “how long are you staying frustrated?”

Dr. Lyles designed this book and DVD for those working with stress in their jobs and personal lives, but there are several very valuable lessons for runners. I recommend watching “Back to Utopia” by Dr. Terry Lyles.

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