10/14/16 - Parasympathetic Goals
While there are many nights that the prompt blinks away on an empty screen and I’ve got nothing to say, tonight isn’t one of those nights. I was fortunate enough to speak at an event called the XPT Experience – Malibu, where participants spend three days immersed in training, education, meals, and conversation from an inspiring cast of characters. The founders Laird Hamilton, Gabby Reece, and Brian McKenzie invited a few special guests in Mark Sisson, Darin Olein, and myself to expand on their greater conversation regarding the intersection of performance and lifestyle.
Just yesterday morning amongst the XPT activities I was inspired by a dog. Considering the company, it seems like an odd source of inspiration, but Laird and Brian made reference to the family dog, Kava, who’s constantly mixing it up with the XPT activities.
The quote was “The parasympathetic athlete is the perfect athlete. Look at Kava.” By “parasympathetic” I simply mean the nervous system engagement most associated with the prevailing mechanisms of rest. This is a counter to the sympathetic nervous system, which is largely responsible for what we’d call the stress response of “fight or flight.” Kava, for example, can be found most of the day lounging, relaxing, and even catching a snooze in the sun with intermittent bouts of high energy, sprinting, playful fighting. Quite beautifully this pup can transition from a rambunctious ball of power output back to a state of blissful, parasympathetic calm. Rarely do humans capable of such hard charging as Kava show the equal and opposite ability to return to rest.
In the same fashion, the athlete (or civilian) that has the ability to turn on peak performance and most importantly the ability to throttle down to a state of relaxed recovery is superior in recuperation, longevity, minimizing stress, and, as a result, better performance than the individual under constant stress of the fight or flight system.
If you’re hard charging mentally or physically and do a poor Kava impersonation of shutting all systems down, I’ve got bad news. You’ve got a short life span on your current lifestyle and there are consequences. Live like Kava on the other hand, and you have the potential to enjoy top end performance without burnout.
Complete the following for time:
50 Alternating Pistols
50 One-Arm DB Shoulder to Overhead (50/30)
50 Sandbag Front Squats (AHAP)
50 Push Ups