Viewing entries tagged
Mind

Dealing With Change and Training: The Value of A Strong Support System

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Dealing With Change and Training: The Value of A Strong Support System

At this time in my life, my mobility is a gift. 

It’s hard for me to realize or remember this as I speed through my day-to-day.  When I was twenty or so, I suffered a nasty snowboarding accident, one that I was very lucky to be able to walk away from.  A couple millimeters to left or right and I could be writing to you from a wheelchair right now.  But that didn’t happen; I’m able to run alongside Sofia at the playground and carry James through the wild world of animals at the Roger Williams Zoo. 

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Am I Race Ready? Assessing My Training To-date

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Am I Race Ready? Assessing My Training To-date

I find that things very rarely go as planned. My experience with triathlon fits that feeling very well. We've all gone through the mental struggles associated with the creeping up of the first race of the season ... well I think we all have.

Have I trained enough? Am I strong enough? Can I actually do this? Do I even want to do this anymore? Why am I doing this? Maybe I should just wait until I'm more prepared for the next race?

If you don't go through the mental agony associated with the above, well, good for you. Aren't you fucking lucky.

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Fitness by Day (Every Day); Love what you Hate

Fitness by Day (Every Day); Love what you Hate

We've written before (at least I have) about how consistency, more than anything else, seems to be the factor that will lead to improvement in this endurance life of ours.

Some are fortunate, they jump in at find themselves near the top.  I think the more common tale though is that first timers find themselves at the back (and I mean literally), they swallow their pride, and they commit to the long game.

Confessions of an Amateur Triathlete: 15 Thoughts from a Six-Hour Indoor Brick Session

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Confessions of an Amateur Triathlete: 15 Thoughts from a Six-Hour Indoor Brick Session

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Triathlon training is hard. It is often discussed how triathlon challenges your physical capabilities. How much time and preparation is required. The value of patience.

Often neglected in these discussions is the way this sport pushes your psychological limits.

Whether you find yourself training or racing, at times it feels like someone has extracted your consciousness and put it through the spin cycle on your dryer.

As my training sessions have become more frequent, longer in duration and relegated to the indoors, I've noticed that one of the most significant hurdles in transferring my 70.3 experience to being successful at the 140.6 distance is going to be, you guessed it, my mental game.

It seems obvious, but it has been made abundantly clear to me that my mental game is directly related to my physical output, effort and results. When I'm in a good head space, everything seems to be going well. Cadence is good. Breathing is good. Confidence is high.

But when doubt and negativity start to creep in I start to feel pain more readily. Time slows down. Breathing speeds up. Little things seem insurmountable. The body seems to tell you you're ready to quit. I want to quit.

In an effort to shed some insights into what goes on in this little brain of mine during a long training session and hopefully illustrated what I'm talking about, I captured some of those thoughts on a piece of paper in my last training session.

This particular training session included: 5 hour indoor training session @65-75% FTP followed by a 60 min run in HR Zone 2-3. Total distance 155 km - stationary.

Here are 15 thoughts that I took for a spin on my latest ride, in no particular order and combined to shorten the list:

  1. "I can do this. My training is paying off. I'm ready." (I was 35 mins in)
  2. "I can't do this. What am I thinking? My ass hurts. My legs are getting sore. I've still got 2.5 hours left. I'm never going to finish"
  3. "I wonder what my "normal" friends are doing on Saturday afternoon? Socializing, enjoying the outdoors, napping. Here I am, sitting on my bike pedaling to nowhere"
  4. "Has time stopped? Why are the seconds ticking by so slowly. This is crazy."
  5. "I have to pee. Just ignore it. "Don't go chasing waterfalls. Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used too .... " Are you kidding me???!!!!"
  6. "If I was racing right now would I pee on my bike or stop?" (a few moments later) "I'd definitely pee on my bike"
  7. "Why are you talking out loud? No wait, are you? Yup, yup you are."
  8. "My body hates me. I hate me. Why am I doing this to myself." Really, what are you doing this for?"
  9. "Things I'd rather being doing - reading, being outside, visiting friends, playing with a dog, cooking, eating, this exact thing - OUTSIDE!"
  10. "Why does Trevor talk about poop so much? I should really talk to him about his diet, something isn't right there."
  11. "It really is hard to stay focused at 195 watts. Am I even moving? Don't be stupid, take the rest you'll appreciate it later"
  12. "My ass hurts so much. Is there really any way to make a bicycle seat comfortable over a period of 5 hours of constant sitting? (an hour later) "No, there isn't"
  13. "15 more minutes. Just kidding. 10 more minutes. Haha got you again. 20 more minutes. You fall for it every time."
  14. "FINALLY!!! Shit .... I still have to run"
  15. "Seriously, Wonder Women? What was the UN thinking? Mascot for female empowerment ...... 
  16. Bonus: "This is why you do it. You've accomplished something. You stuck it out. You finished. You committed and came through. This is the person you want to be. You're ready."

As you can imagine, these are but the start of longer internal monologues, debates, discussions, arguments .... but I'm sure you get the drift.

I believe I'm ready physically or at least nearly there, this has become a mental challenge now.

Keep grinding .....

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Can I Actually Do This?: Doubt and the Triathlete

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Can I Actually Do This?: Doubt and the Triathlete

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I've been told that I should write more personally about my training and experiences. I find this quite odd, since people that know me, know that I don't like talking about myself, sharing or really "opening up". However, I'm going to give it a shot and see what happens. So here we go ... welcome inside. Can I actually F*#%ing do this?

Lately I have been overcome with small, infrequent, but extremely overwhelming bouts of doubt. It is hard to pin down what exactly brings them on, but they exist and they are becoming louder and louder.

The latest whispers came in a recent discussion I had with some friends over my upcoming IRONMAN Cozumel event and a comment was made: "Of course you're going to finish. Right? There is no chance you won't finish" A simple, harmless comment. Meant as support. Shot through me like bullet. My response: "Well, yes, there is a chance I won't finish".

In this flash of a comment, the thoughts racing through my head were too much to comprehend or take. At this moment I thought, "well shit, is this what people think? These are people who are travelling to Mexico to see me race. Who wouldn't be there otherwise. Who were spending thousands of dollars, for me. A completely selfless act, in support of me. What if I fail? How could I let them down?"

Simultaneously, my mind raced with ways and scenarios that could see this ending in a DNF (did not finish). What if my training is inadequate? What if I bonk? What if I hurt myself? What if I panic and can't finish the swim? What if the weather is shit? Too windy and miserable? Raining? What if I overheat? What if my nutrition plan is insufficient for the climate? What if  my bike malfunctions? What if I crash? What if my knee acts up? What if ... What if...... What if..........

It all happened in a moment. Almost like a stoppage of time, where my mind took over and I tried to not let my friends see the weight, the power that such a harmless comment had on me. I smiled. Inside, I was sick. I was filled with doubt. With regret. Realizing that maybe, just maybe this wasn't about me anymore.

This is but one example. I've noticed the silent but deadly feeling creep up on me more and more lately. As race day nears, I find myself questioning what I'm doing more and more. This is no easy task. I've never even ran a marathon before! I'm I actually crazy? Have I thought this through? Am I setting myself up for ultimate failure?

It is a self perpetuating cycle that I rationally know does more harm than good. As I hit deeper and deeper cycles I notice changes in my behaviour. I eat shittier. I miss workouts - why workout when you're going to fail anyway? I get depressed.

It has become a persistent voice whose negativity echos through my thoughts when:

  • I miss a work out
  • Enjoy a couple extra beverages
  • Sleep in
  • Cut a training session short
  • Don't feel like I'm pushing it enough
  • Miss out on social events
  • Neglect my friends and family
  • Eat. Work. Train. Sleep. Repeat.
  • Fall behind my teammates training.

To date, I've never let the doubt take over - I've come close, but find the strength to snap myself out of it.

I'm the type of person who appreciates when people don't think I can do something. When I first started this triathlon experiment, the number of people telling me I couldn't do it was many; but, provided me with an immense amount of motivation to prove them wrong. If I didn't, well no one really lost.

I've learnt, or to be honest, am learning to use these feelings of doubt as fuel for the fire. I have started to embrace them. To use them as motivation. As a means to help me achieve my goal, not disable my ability to move forward.

There is no easy way to explain how to do this. I'm assuming for each individual it will be a little bit different. A few tricks I use to dispel those moments of doubt:

  • Fight back: When you're starting to question your efforts, fight back. Have an internal dialogue with your doubt. Tell yourself each and every reason those thoughts are wrong. Convince yourself you're doing all you can and you'll be alright.
  • Trust your process: You're not a professional. Don't hold yourself to that standard. Trust in your plan. Trust in your effort. Trust in your training. I'm willing to bet you've thought this through. Don't let some momentary doubts ruin all that work.
  • Rely on your support team: I'm lucky enough to have a lot of positive support around me. When I finally decide to open up about how I'm feeling, they are quickly there to pick me up and get me back on track. I've said it before and I'll say it again - NEVER under estimate the power of your support system - friends, family, spouse, coworkers, whomever.

It isn't easy. I'm not always successful. But for me, this simple conversation helped me understand that I'm more comfortable letting myself down then I am letting others down. It has become evident to me that I'm not just in this for me anymore. That people are actually rooting for me. That people want me to succeed. That people will be disappointed or let down if I don't.

It is a powerful realization. It is one I don't take lightly. It is one that has helped drive me forward with purpose where I otherwise may have faltered.

While the feelings and thoughts of doubt are natural and will likely not go away, I'm convinced I will make myself, my team and my supporters proud.

The grind continues............

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