Performance in running is full of ups and downs and ebbs and flows. In his new book, Master of Changemy best friend and collaborative partner Brad Stulberg details essential principles and practices to navigate change over the course of one’s career. I couldn’t recommend the book enough.

Early in the book, he introduces a term called “rugged flexibility” and discusses the science-backed ways to develop it. I put together a list of my 10 favorite sections in the book for runners. 

1.     Understand, accept, and embrace that there will be changes throughout your progression as an athlete: examples include injury, aging, rule adjustments, shifts in playing style, periods of the flow and harmony, and periods of friction and stagnation. This is just how it goes.

2.     Adopt a being over having orientation—make being a lifelong athlete more important than having any particular achievement.

3.     When you face setbacks—such as injuries or defeats—do what you can to practice tragic optimism, wise hope, and wise action: “Like it or not, this is what is happening right now; I am going to focus on what I can control, do the best I can, and come out the other side.”

4.     Diversify your sense of self within sport and perhaps even more important, outside of sport; this not only helps your performance, shifting you from playing to win versus playing not to lose, but it also makes managing change and transitions easier.

5.     Remember not only your strong and independent self but also your connected and dependent self—this is why it’s so important to seek out good coaches, mentorship, community, and teammates.

6.     Know your core values and apply them to sport—remember that there is a difference between the finite game (winning and losing on any given day) and the infinite game (growing as a human being through sport). Both matter—but working through the former is a lot easier when you keep the perspective of the latter.

7.     When you are faced with uncertainty and the road forward isn’t clear, use your core values to guide your actions.

8.     After big wins, tough losses, or other challenges, do what you can to reactivate your SEEKING pathway by practicing the four P’s: pause, process, plan, and proceed.

9.     Develop a routine to lend a sense of control and predictability even during change and chaos, but don’t become overly attached to it. 

10.  Separate real fatigue (“I am physically tired”) from fake fatigue (“I am in a rut”) and remember that the former calls for rest and the latter calls for nudging yourself into action.

If you found this post interesting and want to learn more, definitely grab a copy of the book today. Brad has opened up all sorts of bonuses for members of the SOR community. Just fill out this formwith your order number and you’ll get all kinds of great stuff, some of which I help him put together! 

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