Oh man. A part of me really regrets the post I put up a few days ago. I’m ashamed and embarrassed about the self-pity I threw out there for everyone to see. Sorry folks. I thought about taking it down but your comments – I need to keep those up. Up on the post, out there on the web, and right in front of me. And they wouldn’t be there if I hadn’t had a public hissy fit, so my little tantrum will stay out there. That’s right – you really get to see all of me – not just the pretty parts…
So you. Onto you all. I got fantastic comments on the blog, on FaceBook and also some private emails from people. Thank you. They felt like hugs – and some were – but there was also a lot of real, meaty advice in there that has helped, really helped me to progress mentally.
I realise, first off, that I am going to step away, for now, from focus on a PR or a specific time. It induces anxiety (just a bit!) and more importantly, it’s actually counterproductive. I spend so much time in my metaphorical bath stall crying and having my little panic tantrum that I’m not going to make it that I forget to just pay attention and get my training in. Not that I haven’t been training – but I have not been focusing on that. I have been focusing on my goal. Not – as Ana Maria so succinctly puts it, focusing on the process. The process is everything – it’s getting the runs right, it’s dealing with the challenges dealt by the weather, by flu, by fitting it around the rest of my life. The result will then be what it is. And ironically, the process is what I really enjoy. Running here and now, the workouts ahead of me this week. Building up the miles and the hard workouts, putting juice in my tank. And then there is NOTHING I love more than race day, when I get to finally burn up ALL of that fuel that I have been storing, where I get to use ALL of my training miles, slow, fast, hard or easy. And really and honestly – I know that once in that zone, I will run what I can run. And I will be completely filled up and fulfilled with that.
Another friend commented that “what we focus on, is what we become”. I am still grappling with that one, but I can see that I have been too lazy, mentally, with my training. I am being coached by my coach, Mary, and so am not in control of what I’m going to be doing, week on week. She is. But I think that I’ve been, subconsciously, letting go of stuff I should have been in control of – while she tells me what my workouts are, I need to deliver – 100% – to make them count. I need to be present – mentally – and not hand all control over to her. I can’t just do the workout and then just moan and say “why did that not go so well?” I need to take ownership of my runs and figure out, every day, what the purpose of my run is and what I’m going to get out of it. That purpose can be to improve my speed, my endurance, but also to improve my mood, or just to enjoy being outside, or feel empowered by battling the elements. Point is – I need to take charge of those bits of the training I am in charge of. Self-pity and the accompanying apathy (won’t someone help me?) has pervaded my training as well as my blog.
As to why I am so slow – in all my flapping around I have ignored the boringly prosaic reason my coach has been giving me for weeks – I am doing too much leg strength work with my clients. I have got so used to working out with my clients that it is going to take more focus for me to help them, to demonstrate, but not to do the repeated mountain climbers, burpees, squats and lunges I have been doing with them. Because while all the triathlon stuff petered out last year, and the running stuff took up again, I have discovered – wait for it – strength! I have never done weights in a gym or in a class until this last year and only really have started doing it because I ended up volunteering to teach a strength and conditioning class for my triclub. Fed up with my procrastination about my business, I decided that I would just do this – these two things that scare me, teaching and strength – because I was so bored of my own whinnying about it. And I know, I know, colour you surprised, but I have started enjoying it. Teaching, and strength work! My once weekly class is a cross fitty / tabata styled workout which has pushed me way beyond what I thought I could do, physically and mentally. But in enjoying that I have not considered fully how that class, on top of the one on one sessions I do with clients, affects my running.
Having a week off this week – because I cancelled everything – has given me the chance to really consider what I can do to put all my eggs in my running basket – to focus on the process of training:
- I will consider how my work affects my training and adapt in a way that does not take away from my clients’ experience but means that I do fewer workouts myself;
- I will give some extra time to each workout, every day, separate from setting it up on my Garmin or driving there, to consider what I’m doing the workout for, and what I’ve taken away from it;
- I will take rest and nutrition and recovery seriously.
Finally – I got a message last night from an old friend who knows me from way back at university, when I smoked and drank and could barely run down the hall and then later, when I was overweight and so unhappy with how I looked and felt; “I think you are focusing too much on your PRs and not the whole journey you have traveled. 8 years ago this summer I visited you and you told me you were unhappy with you baby weight and you were going to run a marathon (I do recall a pair of bribery shoes from Adam may have been involved). You have done that and then some more.” This was powerful stuff – she reminded me of where I came from and why I came to running. And then she tells me “you are the inspiration that leads me to believe I too can do a marathon.” Ok. I get it. I’m opening the curtains, tidying up the pity party streamers, and getting my head straight. In focus. Thank you everyone!