There are so many challenges when training for an event. Obviously, the actual physical movement is a biggie. I found my training plan online and took some time to add each workout to my Google calendar. Every morning I get an alert to what my workout is: “swim 1800 yards” or “run 2 miles easy 2 miles race pace 2 miles easy” or “bike until you puke.”
Ok, that wasn’t on the plan. It’s a lot though. I feel like this training plan is a lot. I have 3 weeks until my race. This year- per Strava- I have biked 400 miles and by the end of the week I will have ran 200 miles! Lots of sweat. But, perhaps even more challenging than the actual doing of the sports is the thinking involved. In other words, I probably spend 1 ½ more time on thinking about my training than actually training for my event. 35% of those thoughts may be “Yay! This is awesome! I am awesome! Everything is awesome!”
The remaining 65%? I don’t know the exact percentages, but I think it is 15% hangry, 22% tigh tigh sleepy go nigh nigh, and the remainder is…definitely not awesome.
It is quite scary how much power your mind can have over your performance. A couple weeks ago I had a BAD week. It was a “recovery” week after a particularly challenging week. The Saturday before I biked 60 miles and ran 14 miles(!) on Sunday so the recovery week had a lighter load. And, boy, was my body shot! I slogged through my workouts and made it to Saturday—my bike was a short ride, “only” 45 miles. We also had rain in the forecast. Saturday morning I looked at my bike on the trainer and I knew I had to make a choice—3 hours on the trainer or ride outside. Three hours on the trainer without a good TV plan in place sounded miserable. I decided to “suck it up buttercup” and took my bike for a ride outside. And it was a disaster. My body was tired. I just had to get through the ride. Then the rain started on me at mile 20—-seriously. Fortunately, I have a super recognizable bike and when I turned on a popular road, I heard a familiar voice call out, “Jill!” It was my friend Mai on her own bike ride with other people. Yay! Company! My mood was instantly lifted—it felt nice to get out of my own thoughts and be social. After a few miles we parted ways and I headed home. I rode down Foothill and the rain came back…soggy socks…getting chilly…and the bad thoughts came…I can’t even remember what the actual thoughts were but the overall theme was disappointment. I was disappointed with myself because I honestly felt I would rock my ride because I have been super consistent with my training. I read my calendar each day and I SHOW up at my workouts and put the effort in. Why couldn’t this ride happen? And the ugliness escalated…I am not an athlete…I am not hardcore…I am not worthy of this beautiful pink bike…I have no business signing up for any big race…
And then it gets super ugly. As I rode in the rain, dejected, tired, feeling like a failure, I started thinking about other failures…maybe it was personal…maybe it was career related…maybe my cats don’t love me…none of the thoughts were entirely cohesive, more like little bubbles popping in and out of my mind. Little bubbles of failure. And then I realized I was crying…on my bike…in the freakin’ rain. Ugh. Seriously? Let me just pull out a tiny violin from my bike jersey pocket to play for you.
I mean, seriously, there are some ugly awful things going on in this world. There are people fighting for their lives, people struggling to make ends meet and I am weeping over –a bad bike ride? Pull it together lady!
So, I finished my ride. Fortunately the next day I convinced two awesome friends to meet me for a run. We went to my favorite trail and had a blast! We gossiped, we laughed, we swore at the hills, we screamed when we saw a salamander…and, like that, I ran 9 miles! Then swam 2000 yards after.
I don’t have all the answers to really anything, but I do know that your mind may be the biggest muscle to train for events. Your mind plays a big role in if you can succeed in your goals and even a bigger role in how you accept and move on from your failures.
Tonight’s post was a struggle to write because I am not exactly sure what it is I am trying to convey here…mainly because it is my own struggle with my mind versus my body. Today I attempted to race a triathlon—a sprint one. And I quit it. My mind got the best of me…there were a bunch of small factors involved in me bailing after swimming for less than 5 minutes (I am looking at you 60 mile bike ride yesterday—and YOU daylight savings time making my 5am really 6am!). But it was really my MIND that made the decision about turning around, because my HEART was not in it. I was not present in the event. I hadn’t given any thought to this event and just figured I could muddle through it. The problem is if you aren’t feeling it, triathlons can be SUPER annoying. You are surrounded by nervous chatty people and trying your best to not soak up their energy. It took me 15 minutes to find space on a rack for me to set up. I was too lazy to rent a full sleeve wetsuit so decided to tough it out with my sleeveless. A couple people were chatting about the cold water, and remarked upon my sleeveless wetsuit. I started getting nervous. Could I swim in cold water? What would the swim look like? Why haven’t I swam in open water this year? I walked the half mile to the boat ramp where the swim started and got in to warm up. Brrr! Oh boy! I got out and then got back in when my wave was starting. I have done a lot of triathlons before so I know the drill…wait for your wave to start and soak in the nervous energy of everyone waiting to start. But today I just did not have the bandwidth to deal with that energy…we took off and I started swimming and did not feel like I was swimming. There was a safety surfer next to me. I could feel my nerves bubbling to the surface and I knew what this swim could look like: “Get nervous. Struggle to breathe. Pull through and get back on track. Just. Keep. Swimming.”
But my mind was all, “I just can’t even.”
So I told the safety surfer I wasn’t going to swim anymore and headed back to the start.
The rest of my day was a big old mental pity party…which is fine. My big fear is having this happen again on March 28th. But, that is not an option. So, it is time to dig deep, be present, face my fears, and really, truly, SHOW UP. It is about aligning my heart, my mind and my body together to know that, “Yes. Yes we can and we will do this thing.”