Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Promised Post

Last year was an interesting year. Sometimes when I don't seem to be making much progress swimming these last few weeks, I quickly try to pull myself back to the fact that I wasn't even allowed to be swimming last year (after the collarbone surgery) until the middle of February in 2010 (aka - count your blessings sista!).

I also have been thinking a lot about my attitude toward last year and how it changed from beginning to end. Toward the beginning I just believed that once I could swim things would fall into place and somehow I would just start swimming, biking and running my way into maybe not the top of my age group, but maybe I would see some times that were similar to late 2008, early 2009 when I was running well. Let me tell you, it was a rude awaking when things didn't go as planned. I tried all my old tricks.. but it was slow going. St. Croix 70.3 came and went, disappointment. So did Columbia and Buffalo Springs Lake 70.3 - yep, more of the same. I began to doubt myself. I wondered what had changed or if I would ever be the same athlete I once even "thought" I could be.

I stepped back.

I took some time away from triathlon. I refocused and reevaluated. In the end, I needed to come back to the fact that triathlon was what I did, but it wasn't who I was. Placing or not-placing didn't define who I was as a person or an athlete. I finally let it go.. and left it up to God. When I finally came back in July training came pretty easily. I had a renewed love for the sport and the goal to complete and Ironman. Sometimes, that's the beginning, but that certainly isn't all it takes..

So, some things that helped get me through, and may help you as you start your year. Everyone is different, but a few things remain the same for all of us, older or younger, seasoned pro or just beginner.

Taking Away the Excuses

Contrary to what many people probably think (due to the fact that I get up at 5:00-5:30am many mornings) I am NOT a morning person. I don't enjoy seeing that the world is dark and everyone is snuggled in their beds and I'm the only one turning on my bedroom light and venturing out into the cold, dark early morning. However, I know for me training in the morning for at least a majority of the week makes it happen. I get it it done and I start my day. There are times when I have to come back for a second or third workout, but for the most part, the biggest item of the day is already done. What keeps me from getting up? 1. Lack of sleep 2. lack of planning (not having my items together) 3. Lack of people to train alongside. These are my three biggest limiters. So, I work on removing them every week, one by one. If 9:30pm isn't working for my bedtime, I dial it back to 9:15pm. Some big weeks last year I remember even seeing the clock at 8:45pm. Yep, I was going to bed at the same time as many 6 year olds :) I just knew if I didn't get 7 to 7.5 hours I wouldn't get up.. that's just me.. that's just how I roll!

For me it also takes planning. Everything must be in the bag ready to go when I roll out of bed. I love sleep. Sleeping until I need to be out of bed and gone 7-10 minutes later is the way it works. There's no coffee, no grooming, no nothing. So, the pre-planning is a part of my life every night. Bottles are filled, gels are packed and sometimes, unfortunately, my bra or other undergarments are not. O well - we all improvise. This is part of life. If you aren't a planner that's fine - but I'll tell you, it makes my life easier. It's not glamorous, but let me tell you - it works.

Finally, I'm so fortunate to have a big group at my gym who keeps me motivated and I KNOW they will be there. From my masters group, to the Tuesday morning spin class com padres, to the older folks who use the rowing machine while I lift - we all say hi (or sometimes just grumble and nod) and know that it's way better for each other to be there than not. The locker room girl crowd chats about clothing or life or the weekend plans while the staff that works there are some of my good friends. Having a "group" lifts you up and makes having a place to go so much more than just a place. If you don't have a place that does this for you - I highly suggest you get one.

Mental Training

I would venture to bet that at least 50% or more of the people who get into triathlon have already been single sport competitors. Most of us are already familiar with the demands of training and mentally preparing for competition. However, I think those that do well, and want to continue to well at this sport have one very large thing in common - they NEVER ignore this side of training. It's a part of what they do - day in - day out. Visualization and developing mental strategies to deal with pain and setbacks must be part of the plan if someone is hoping to overcome when things get tough - oh.. and trust me.. they will. I don't care where you are in the race, it's the common theme that ties all of us together. It hurts - bad. Now it's your turn. What will you do with it? I constantly use training to help me further develop this game. I did it last year and this year I've already started thinking about everything from the first race of the season to how I'll feel in the last. 90% of my mental attention goes toward the first race, but I never neglect the others completely. It's important to know that each race and goal is a stepping stone to the ultimate end of season goal - whether it's finishing first or even just finishing. Seeing yourself in all situations, learning to separate yourself from the pain that you're currently experiencing, and visualizing success should be part of your mental game plan. Practice only solidifies the outcome that you want again and again. I must have visualized Ironman Cozumel 200+ times by the time I actually raced. I actually FELT the finish line and how happy I was there and you know what, in the worst of times, the times when I just wanted to pull over to the side of the road and die.. it helped me take another step and then another.. until finally, I was there living my dreams.


This is getting way to long!! Next I want to talk about race preparation - specifically - HEAT TRAINING - take it seriously people!! I'm convinced that can be the thing that separates one athlete from another!

Hope you're still reading at this point!! Sorry I'm long winded!!


Kiet said...

You'll be happy to know I made it through the entire read. We're all human chica, just because you go barely over 10 hours and win fastest amateur doesn't mean you always spring out of bed every morning, we all get that, go easy woman.

Teresa said...

I love everything you just posted here! And 100% believe that visualization is key to sucess!

You are amazing! Keep it up!


Steve said...

That is a great update. Really lets us know how you think, and I, and probably most of your readers, know you are really remarkable.

Keep up the Great work. :)

Christi said...

First, I love the new pic off to the right!

Second, great post. Prepping is the key thing for me right now. I have to do everything the night before. I have to make sure my food and all my gear is ready. But you know, it really helps. I am more consistent that I have ever been and I can see a great year coming my way!

Third, I can't wait for the next post!

Kim said...

great post kim. you had such success in Coz bc your mental game was ON months and months in advance. ohh cant wait to read about heat training ;)

m said...

Great post Kim! Visualization is a huge part of being a successful athlete. As is recognizing that being an athlete doesn't define you. I went thorough that struggle a few years ago and it is nice to be on the other side of it!

ADC said...

Great post Kim. Thank you for sharing.