What got me thinking about relaxing was when my yoga instructor told me that I was using too much strength. It is not a mental problem, it is about physical use. I subconsciously try to maintain my posture by force, trying to get into the proper yoga pose. For example, if I would like to stretch my right arm straight out from my shoulder, I have to step firmly on my left foot. I am prone to be conscious only of the extending tip, but I must not forget the opposite supporting side. Furthermore, keeping the head, neck, spine and sacrum centred would help to relax the body.
In bouldering, which I used to be obsessed with, it was considered good to climb the wall without using arms’ strength. I don’t rely on grip strength, I just hook my hands onto the holds and move like an orang-utan. Incidentally, foot position is also more important than hand position in bouldering too.
Finally, let’s look at my most important activity – running. It is easy to say not to use too much force while running, but then I wouldn’t be able to run, would I? Of course, I understand that moving is a combination of muscles relaxing and contracting. I also understand that the excessive tension in one area means that other muscles are slacking off and not being used properly. However, the advice that running is just leaning forward and the legs would follow naturally is easy to understand but it is not that easy to apply in practice. The funny conclusion at present is that if I consciously try to run relaxed, it becomes awkward, and conversely, if I run without thinking, nothing improves.
I almost forgot to write about the first time I ran a full marathon in under four hours in 2006. When I was about to walk off with around 10km to go, some runner ran parallel with me and told me, “If you don’t give up, you can break four hours.” and then he pulled me to the goal. And he told me, “You need to run relaxed, otherwise, you’ll get tired, so relax.” I remember these words every time I am in the final stage of trying to achieve something.