Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Mental Aspect

I have been training all summer for the half distance Ironman triathlon.  All summer.   Lots of swimming, biking and running.  Would have been a perfect subject to blog about.  But there was that fear thing.    Since I'm working on putting fear behind me,  I figured now was as good a time as any to write about it.

I have been feeling burnt out lately.  Big time.  I've been wondering if all the blood, sweat and tears was really worth it.  Training for a long distance race(s) takes time, a lot of time.   Schedules have to be adjusted to fit the training into the mix of everyday life.  I'll mention balance again, because it's key.  Work, family, daily activities, etc.  The training had been taking me away from my kids and time with them is precious to me.  I'm not the most organized girl on the block, and finding balance was stressing me out.  As I was trying to be more in control, I was really losing control.  In all areas of my life.

At the beginning of this week I was burnt out from training, stressed in life and feeling like I was being pushed to my breaking point.  I was crabby, irritable and was taking it out on people I care about.   (I was sending texts before pausing.)  Basically nothing was going my way and I wanted to quit and take the easy road.

But the easy road is boring.  I like my life to be a little more interesting.  So I asked myself "what is your problem?  What's holding you back?"

I thought about it, and it came down to the mental aspect.  I tend to over think, over analyze, worry about pretty much everything.  It holds me back.   It's part of my make-up.  But just because something has always been a certain way, doesn't mean it has to stay that way!

I looked in the mirror and thought "enough".  Nothing changes if nothing changes.  I decided to change my outlook, and instead of white knuckling through control I decided to let go.  Let go!  What a relief!  When I made the decision to relax and let things happen as they happen...things started to change.   I felt a sense of peace.

Why hold on so tightly to what's actually holding me back?  Why am I trying so hard to control situations, people and things?  The only thing I can effectively control is me.   And I think it comes right back to fear.  Fear loses it's power if it's stared down and dealt with.

Back to the subject of my training burn-out.  Tuesday was a scheduled swim.  I will admit, I am a decent swimmer...but I don't love the swim.   But this Tuesday I decided to just get out of my head and do it.  Just taking the mental pressure off myself did the trick and I had a great workout.  This lifted my spirits.

Wednesday was a run day.  An hour 15 minutes of hill repeats.   Running is my nemesis.  I will procrastinate the run to death!   This most likely stems from the fact that I've had numerous ankle injuries which sidelined me the last two seasons.  My orthopedic doctor suggested that I give up the sport.  I don't give up.  Not without a fight.  But lately I have been running a little scared.  Can't get the fear of injury out of my head.  But Wednesday I did.  I put it out of my mind and let go and had a good run.  My spirits lifted more.

Friday and today were days that I am reminded of why I love my multi-sport training.   I had a complete mental shift.    I just let go.

Friday was a run day.  Perfect weather.  Slightly overcast with peaks of sunshine, and cool.  I had an hour and a half run scheduled.  I felt great.  I set out with a smile and a new playlist.  Something just felt different.  I wasn't dreading it!  I was about 4 miles in when I noticed the sky ahead was darkening.

But I kept going, because for the first time in months I was enjoying the run.  I was on a runners high, and I think I was even smiling!  Listening to Talking Heads '77, and Radiohead and Eminem I kept going.  Of course I got rained on.  Understatement, it poured!  But it was awesome!  I was the only one on the trail, I was soaking wet and I felt like I was literally running from all the stuff that had been bringing me down.  Just left it all on the trail.  I felt completely exhilarated!

Spirits were soaring!

Today was a bike day.  Now, to say I love cycling does not give my feelings for the sport justice.  I have deep respect for it.  It's dangerous, fast paced, fun and I have had the privilege of meeting some really great people.  Every time I saddle up I experience joy.  I would ride my bike all day if I could.  Everyday.  But I I was meeting several of said special people to go on a 4 hour training ride.

Apparently I missed the memo that said to wear green.

Unfortunately, two hours into it, we experienced some technical difficulty, and had to cut the ride short.  This is one of a few of the downsides of cycling, mechanical problems.  But we still had a great time.  We were all able to get the remaining two hours in later.  

In a nutshell, I had a little breakdown this week, as we all do from time to time.  But once again, in writing this out I am reminded that this mini-burnout/breakdown was another opportunity for growth.  Every day is a new opportunity!

This afternoon as I write, I am smiling.  I am not feeling burnt out any longer but renewed.  Both in training and in life.

P.S.  Just in time for Ironman Steelhead 70.3 which is a week from tomorrow.  I'm ready!  Bring it on baby!!!

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