Crazy times! The past few weeks have been crazy times! Kids are still home from school (another 4 weeks of summer holidays to go) and we’ve had big birthday parties, sleepovers, a few days at the beach in Wales, the purchase of piglets and a trip to London to see the Olympics (more later).
Training has been a challenge. Focus – what I was looking for in my last post – has not been easy to come by. As always, I learn things slowly and by having truths pounded into my head repeatedly. One morning I was on my trainer struggling to complete a 90 minute trainer ride. I was constantly thinking of excuses to get off my bike and end this thing. I thought of emailing my trainer and whining that I couldn’t do this ride. When it struck me I couldn’t, because my trainer was out doing an Ironman. So she was not going to be available to pat my hand and tell me I was fine for not doing what I set out to do (which, incidentally, she wouldn’t have done. And I knew that.) I sucked it up and finished the ride – without much conviction but with an inkling of understanding seeping in that sometimes I just need to suck it up. The next week or so after that I struggled through my training – in my heart of hearts feeling a bit sorry for myself for having to do all this hard work.
At the beginning of the week I wrote to my coach and told her how I was feeling. Her response was an incredible email with various points I’d like to share:
- the first year of triathlon it is hard to learn to fit all the different things in. Certainly true – having a coach is making it much easier but I would still say the sheer logistics and planning that go into fitting it in are a challenge.
- It is hard. But if I want do this, I need to just do it. Prioritise it. And be brave about it.
In this respect I am not a terribly brave person. I like to make decisions that others approve of. One of the things I am struggling with is right now is that in order to make my training work and my business work I think I need to make some lifestyle changes that others around me will not approve of. Training for marathons has been something I have been to fit alongside my existing lifestyle and I have been able to do it without it impacting much on those around me. My lifestyle has changed in the past 9 years but not in a way that, I think, has had a great impact on others. I eat well, generally, but there’s also plenty of not so good food choices. A lot of socialising around me involves alcohol and while I don’t tend to drink too much, I will certainly go along with that. Although I love my early nights and early mornings, I will also stay up later occasionally to fit in with the bigger social schedule.
To fit in half ironman training, to fit in the amount of training I want to do with my clients, to learn the new skills I need to learn as a personal trainer – I need to make some bigger changes. This may sound sappy, but it came home to me on a bikeride this week. I was trying very hesitantly to turn my bike 180 degrees in a narrow lane. I was going at it slowly and hesitantly and it suddenly struck me that in my mind I was willing the bike to turn but my body was not doing enough to actually make it happen – I had to be brave enough to turn the wheel and follow through. And in Oprah-like sychnchronicity, this is what needs to happen in my life – if I want to make a change, I need to actually turn my wheels in the direction I want to go in.
At 40, I cannot burn the candle at both ends. I need to take my training seriously, and adapt my lifestyle accordingly. Improve my diet. Prioritise my sleep. Get my training in every day. And not feel – like I have been feeling – all apologetic about it. I need to treat my own training like my job – part of my appeal, if I have any, as a trainer and a coach is my credentials as an athlete. And while I’m no winner of awards and don’t expect to podium, ever, my achievements are credible and I need to treat them like that. To get them, I need to train. So if I need to, I will get childcare in to get my training in. If I need to, I will leave a social occasion earlier so I can get to bed and get up in the morning at 5am and train. Most of the time, I will leave the wine to others. (As an aside, despite years of practise, I am not much of a drinker and my sleep and mood improve massively when I don’t drink). And I need to believe that it is legitimate of me to do this. And I need to be brave enough to stand up for this choice when people challenge me on it. I am not surrounded by other athletes, many of my friends make very different choices. And I respect that completely. I now need to respect my own choices.
Herewith endeth the sermon.
And I leave you with some photos of an Olympic weekend of inspiration – my son Felix and I started off Saturday morning by spectating the triathlon in Hyde Park (and getting friendly with Gwen Jorgenson’s family who were wonderful and inspiring, despite her disappointing race due to a puncture).
After that race we made our way across London – which is alive, alive, alive! in a way I have never seen it – to the Olympic park to watch women’s hockey and just soak up the atmosphere, before coming home for an amazing night of British medals – gold for lovely lovely Jessica Ennis, wonderful Mo Farah and the great ginger long jumping chap.
|Running the Olympic marathon course early in the morning|
|Kara Goucher in the red hat behind the green chick|
And then yesterday I ran my prescribed 90 minute run partially on the marathon course (cheered on by funny volunteers who all rated my chances of winning the thing!) before heading out to spectate the women’s marathon. The weather was, at times, diabolical but what a view and what a sight they were – amazing! We cheered EVERYONE and got quite a few glances from the athletes (my voice is gone today). It’s been so fantastic to have the Olympics here – so exciting to travel to London to actually see it. And the games are not over yet..
So inspired by what I’ve seen, I’m on my way to realigning my life and priorities.