Thursday, May 5, 2011

Fueling the Mind


As a quick aside before I get into this post, can I just say that I am positive I eat about more bugs per capita, per year, than most other people out there! Granted, I don't actually WANT to eat these bugs, but I swear, if my mouth is open (which if I'm on the bike, then I'm talking, so it probably is, or even running) they find a way strait to the back of my throat where I promptly swallow them. Once they get in there, you really don't have a choice.. you're getting some free protein - yuck, yuck, yuck.

Now that THAT's over, let's spend a moment talking about fueling the mind. Many people talk to me (and I talk to them) about fueling their body with the right foods and fluids to succeed, but how much attention do you pay to your mental attitude and training? How much do you think it plays a role in your race day?

I can honestly say that I believe a majority of the time we spend working out is fraught with mental messages, from our bodies (of course) giving us the usual, this hurts, I'm tired, I want to stop, can't we sit down etc. However, it's also filled with to-do lists, did I feed ____ (insert dog, kids, wife etc.), what will I have for dinner and the list goes on and on. That's normal, we're human, we need to use this time out on the road riding, or between the lane lines to find some peace, sort through problems or just hear the silence.

With that said, I also think paying more attention to this side of things can make a decent athlete better, and a good athlete great. I've been very fortunate over the years. I've been an athlete most of my life and coaches from high-school cross country to college have spent time giving me the tools and the knowledge to put some really important aspects of the mental game into practice. However, some of that, I do believe, is also something innate. It can be taught, and you can change your mental game, but it's not going to come easily. If you've always been a negative self talker "I'm not a good swimmer, I stink at hills, I just can't run fast no matter what I do" then guess what - say a little hello to my friend - self fulfilling prophecy - because you're going to be doing just that.

I couldn't help of think of Sally Meyerhoff who recently passed away after colliding with a pickup truck while bicycling in Maricopa, Arizona. Not only an amazing athlete, but someone who really inspired me with her attitude to be a better athlete and person. While my workout load has been growing, and my sleep and time for myself has been waning I've been tempted to sway from my usual self lately and talk myself out of this interval or that pace during more than one workout. Each time I've come back to Sally and her description as "relentlessly positive" or to some of my other athlete friends making it happen on a daily basis, or even a facebook message someone would write saying that my little posts inspired them or helped them in some way. So I'd go back to one thing:

Not

Giving

Up

I worked through the tough parts, and took those negative thoughts and shoved them way down. During workout one the three, I would promise myself not to think of the next, until I had put every last thing into the current workout. I would talk to myself prior when my body said "I'm tired!" my mental game would say back "I'll just have to go to bed earlier tonight" because there are no excuses on race day. You either have it, or you don't. I'd rather spend my time in workouts pushing the envelope when it needs to be pushed than wonder "what if?".

So, my advice to my athletes and to anyone who will list is really always the same

Stay relentlessly positive like Sally

Don't Give Up

Don't look for excuses, look for ways to overcome

Train with flexibility, be willing to adapt

Injured? What CAN you do? - then do it.

Listen to the voices that tell you the right things, the things you need to hear, ignore the rest

Practice your mental game in training, over and over, remember what worked on race day and use it

I leave you with some pictures from my last few weeks.. they are my life in a nutshell at times!
Mom on the spin bike during her first voyage
Rear view of the four mile race - GO MOM!
Yep, this guy was cool - and wearing bunny ears too!
The amazing pool at the YMCA. Oh my love.. my darling
Sweet, sweet Betty Designs Water Bottle that I won from Chloe! Thanks C- I LOVE IT!
The view I've been seeing a LOT lately (it feels like college!)
The guy we bumped into on our ride.. seriously, this is your mailbox holder?? What are you thinking?
Lisa and I out on our Sat. ride when it was SUNNY! YES - SUN IN PITTSBURGH - what a concept!
Riding hills makes me happy
A stream I ran by last week in the woods

I'm thankful, and I have a good life. Thanks for listening..

12 comments:

Jill said...

Awesome and inspiring as always!
Thanks Kim!!!

Charisa said...

Great post :)

Teresa said...

the mental edge is key! keep believing!
tn

Chloe said...

What an awesome post. It was exactly what I need to hear right now! Thanks for the inspiration :)

Kiet said...

How did you know I needed to hear all of this? Perfect timing, words I needed to hear as I try to take my training into a new direction.

Christi said...

This is a great post and you are an inspiration to me. I am going to print this post and go to it when my negative thoughts take over!

Jamie said...

Awesome post Kim.

With all the focus that people spend on race schedules, gear, nutrition, sponsors, teams and a million other things, the whole psychology part gets left in the dust when it has the most impact over everything you do (and don't do).

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Jennifer Harrison said...

GREAT read, Kim! :) nice!

Heidi Austin said...

love it :) that guy or thing you and lisa saw in PA was just plain scary! thanx for my weekly motivation :)

Noontidal said...

Good sleep is important to everything.

About the bug thing, there may be worse things than swallowing them. On one of my regular routes there's a shaded spot with hundreds of grasshoppers laying in wait. As I ride past they all feel the need to jump up at me which feels like being pelted with pebbles - not a big deal unless you're a guy and they have 'good aim' occasionally, ouch.

Noontidal said...

Good sleep is important to everything.

About the bug thing, there may be worse things than swallowing them. On one of my regular routes there's a shaded spot with hundreds of grasshoppers laying in wait. As I ride past they all feel the need to jump up at me which feels like being pelted with pebbles - not a big deal unless you're a guy and they have 'good aim' occasionally, ouch.