Progress is a function of both time and intensity. You can spend less time and more intensity, or more time and less intensity. They must be balanced.
If we overtrain, we may seem to make more rapid progress, even enjoy a short time of glory, but we eventually experience a natural consequence of a life out of balance: burnout.
Whatever cycles we pass through, no matter what our pace, it's best to trust in natural order—to enjoy each day, come what may, with all the energy and humor at our command. Humor is a good sign that we have a balanced perspective. After all, no matter how magnificent our athletic aspirations or achievements, we remain eternally tiny specks in the great universe; missing a putt or double-faulting a serve is hardly going to shake up the cosmos.
Natural Order: Psychophysical Applications
Everyone of us at one time or another has probably thought, "I should be doing better—I should be achieving faster." This is often an indicator that we've forgotten the law of natural order. Like the word "try," the word "should" has little place in the mind of the natural athlete. "Should" implies a dissatisfaction with things as they are. It is the ultimate contradiction; it's the trembling foundation of neurosis. Your time is too valuable to spend stewing over things that are not.
Of course, whether training is too "intense" or too "easy" depends upon your capacity. As a coach, I always set up an organized program as a general framework, expecting the individual athletes under my guidance to modify it according to their differing capacities. They need to trust their inner sense more than an external program.
One good measure of our alignment with the law of natural order is our level of comfort and enjoyment during the process of training. Certainly, we have good and bad days, but in general, if we push ourselves too much too long we may lose the original sense of joy we had as beginners.
One Olympic swimmer stated publicly that she would be glad when the Olympics were over so she would never have to look at another swimming pool. Can you imagine carrying the same attitude about life? "I've achieved greatness, but I can't wait 'till it's over." As we train, so we live; as we have reamed to live, so we train. By examining one, we come to understand the other.
We cannot escape the consequences of nature's laws. There are no tickets for violations, but "outlaws" from nature create their own prisons.
Balance your life between pleasure and pain. Become sensitive to- the natural order of things. Practice nonresistance by making use of whatever you meet on your own path, your own journey. Follow a step-by-step process, and trust what comes. Working within natural law, you will not only find self-discovery and a measure of success, but you will enjoy life more with each passing year.
Alignment with natural laws gives us the first keys to athletic freedom.