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!



9 thoughts on “Focus

  1. I love you to pieces, you know that I hope! I am a lousy friend lately. I am working so much these days and my computer is friend (again) and in the computer hospital so my time reading blogs is limited to my phone and the 1/2 hour I get on the communal desk top I share with the rest of the household. Yippee. Lame excuses, but I did read your blog last week and I so badly wanted to replay and never got the chance to.

    Girl, you and I are two peas with our thoughts. I have found, though, through my old coach, that I am so much more laid-back about PRs and BQs and enjoying the ride of getting fit and strong. But I also don’t have a marathon on my spring agenda and I’m sure if I did, I would be right there with you on the though process. It’s why I took all marathons off my plate for the first half of the year, I just wasn’t race ready…physically or in my stupid head.

    Take what the marathon gives you, girl. Use it as a starting point and build off of it for the future. Maybe a road race with Jilly in the fall?!?! Look how much stronger you will be and how much knowledge you will gain from this race and carry it into the next. You are a very strong and beautiful woman and I know whatever happens, you will learn something about yourself in the process. Anytime we can learn more about ourselves, isn’t that a good thing??? Yes, yes it is!

    I will email you when I get back from Moab. God, I better be super ass sore from that race so I don’t go back into training immediately and it sucks up all my time because I miss you and want to sit down and write you a proper email :). You are amazing, don’t ever forget that!!


  2. Dear Petra,

    Don’t apologise – I’m enjoying your blogs. It makes me realise I’m not the only person who goes through self doubt (and self pity). We found out on Monday that someone else has bought the house we have been after for 8 months, which sent me into a right old dworm. However, I have not stood up and dusted myself down.

    When I read your first blog, I meant to send you this, which is a brilliant inspiration when times are tough. I first heard it at a friend’s funeral, but it is not gloomy. Far from it… Enjoy.


    Mary xxxx


    By Robert J. Hastings

    TUCKED AWAY in our subconscious minds is an idyllic vision. We see ourselves on a long, long trip that almost spans the continent. We’re traveling by passenger train, and out the windows we drink in the passing scene of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at a crossing, of cattle grazing on a distant hillside, of smoke pouring from a power plant, of row upon row of corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of mountains and rolling hillsides, of city skylines and village halls, of biting winter and blazing summer and cavorting spring and docile fall.

    But uppermost in our minds is the final destination. On a certain day at a certain hour we will pull into the station. There will be bands playing and flags waving. And once we get there so many wonderful dreams will come true. So many wishes will be fulfilled and so many pieces of our lives finally will be neatly fitted together like a completed jigsaw puzzle. How restlessly we pace the aisles, damming the minutes for loitering, waiting, waiting, waiting for the station.

    However, sooner or later we must realize there is no one station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly outdistances us.

    When we get to the station that will be it!” we cry. Translated it means, “When I’m 18 that will be it! When I buy a new 450 SL Mercedes Benz, that will be it! When I put the last kid through college that will be it! When I have paid off the mortgage that will be it! When I win a promotion that will be it! When I reach the age of retirement that will be it! I shall live happily ever after!”

    Unfortunately, once we get “it,” then “it” disappears. The station somehow hides itself at the end of an endless track.

    “Relish the moment” is a good motto, especially when coupled with Psalm 118:24: “This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.” It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad. Rather, it is regret over yesterday or fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who would rob us of today.

    So, stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot more often, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more and cry less. Life must be lived as we go along. The station will come soon enough.

  3. Hey, you don’t have to apologize, but I understand. I think you and I have the same emotions going on right now. I had self pity party last weekend. I wrote a post to go with it. And then my friend wrote me to inspire; he is a quadriplegic. I felt even worse, but my other friend said that some days, you just need to let that happen. I felt better, but I also wanted to write an apology post, too. But it is okay. You are okay. And you deserve to have days to let things happen. Great post.

  4. Gosh, Petra, I can’t tell you how much I love this post! And how much it speaks to me, too. I love the idea of focusing on the process. 99% of what we do in this running-gig is the training process and only 1% are the races (and resulting PR’s or “failures” or whatever else happens on race day). If we don’t love the 99%, then why are we doing this?! We can’t control so much of what happens on or near race day — from injuries to weather to sickness to a travel delay — and yet we put so much pressure and focus on that one race.

    On the one hand, I think we need the focus on a goal race in order to put in the requisite work day-in-and-day-out that will result in a “successful” race. But on the other hand, we also need to focus on each specific workout. Focus on why we are doing it and what we love (or hate!) about it. So much to be learned from our workouts, that is for sure.

    You are an inspiration!!

    Hope you have a great weekend. 🙂

  5. i like what you said, focus on the journey! because that’s the whole point, yes? where youre going and where you have been. Continue to grow with each step!
    How come your blog doesn’t show up in my reader?? so glad you commented on mine so i could get updated!

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