I see it all the time with athletes, and even with myself. Every once in awhile, I go back and read my blogs from earlier days and trust me when I say it wasn't all roses. I went through some serious pain along this journey and for some reason I wasn't ashamed to write about the good, bad and ugly of all of it. I'm not sure if it was because I needed it or that I thought someone else might need it, but either way, I'm still glad I did. As much as I would like to, I can't take away the dark times for my athletes. I'd love to shoulder for them or just tell them to "perk up" it's all going to be fine, but sometimes it's just not. When you have a relationship this closely with someone you share the burden of the things going on in their life and know intimate details that sometimes others don't know. That's part of being a good coach and understanding the challenges they are facing with just their everyday training and stress budget.
It's been cold here lately, these boots were necessary to survive!
It's normal to get down and spend some time in those dark places, but we certainly can't stay there forever if we hope to keep climbing to our potential and see what we are really capable of in the long run. I like to have athletes or clients draw a circle on a piece of paper. When I ask them what the biggest factors are that are impacting their life at the moment, good or bad, I have them put them on the INSIDE of the circle if it's something that they can actually have some sort of control over or can change by making a decision or action. As we continue, they also place the things they have much less control over on the OUTSIDE of the circle. While they can't directly control the outside of the circle, they most certainly can control their REACTION to those things. So, we start addressing. We look together at the inside and talk about what changes or different approaches may help alleviate stress, change their outlook or make life easier. We do the same for the outside knowing that we have to address OUR REACTIONS, but that the outside may or may not change. It's a great exercise for when you're in that place. Most of the time this exercise involves crying or other emotions such as anger, resentment, or brings other things to the surface that you didn't even know were happening. However, in the end, it helps to bring responsibility to the areas inside that circle, and acceptance to those things outside but with a fresh perspective on how to deal. It's not that hard, in fact, it's super simple, but just the process of drawing the circles and writing thing down so you can see them on paper staring back at you seems to help separate out feelings that sometimes seem so overwhelming and intertwined that it feels like your whole world is just caving in on top of you.
All I do is ride this thing.. that's what it feels like sometimes!
We are human.. that's all. We all struggle, have challenges and have to pick ourselves up by the boot straps and carry on. Sometimes the best we can hope for is that someone else is there to scoop us up into their arms and carry us when we can't do it ourselves.
I had a rough patch myself over the few weeks since Christmas. I came into the season swinging, feeling hopeful and trying to find the place my coach always talks about called "CRISP & CLEAN". Those of you who know it and have been there can identify with what I was searching for completely. It's the place where your workouts are clicking, you're 100% prepared for them when they come, you nail your nutrition, heart rate, pacing and focus during the workout itself, you're sleeping enough, eating well and overall you just feel like you're nailing it. Your attitude is positive and every day just feels like another step forward. I felt my C & C place through more than a couple of months last year and man, when you're there you're just like "THIS IS IT!! I'M DOING IT!!" It's the place that helps you know when you stand on some of the biggest starting lines of the season you know without a shadow of a doubt you are ready.
Cooking! It does a body good!
Let's just say I was all prepared to crisp and clean it, then I feel off the wagon due to a very nasty bug that just wouldn't seem to leave my system. It certainly didn't help that started feeling it about three days before going into my final week of a three week build that was a 27.5 hour week with 16 hours of cycling. Needless to say, my chances of beating it on my own with all that training weren't so great. I went in confident, but ended the week crying on my trainer (literally, crying). Nothing was working! I was trying to hard but I missed swims, had to keep working as I had athletes starting January 1st and they needed to be set up and all in all I was just exhausted.
I felt beaten down, defeated. I felt like my training was going right in the toilet. I couldn't see the forest through the trees. So, I stopped pushing myself, kept talking to my coach who shut me down and went to the doctor. It was about time I get a clue and take a step back (thanks also to Kyle for talking me off my bike while throwing snot towels and blubbering like an idiot).
After a rest week, I'm feeling a lot better. My antibiotics are kicking in and after some good testing and even a little racing I'm ready to take on the next three week build. Sure, my training is small potatoes compared to what other people are facing, but it's something I spend a LOT of my time doing right now like a career so to me it IS a big deal when I'm not putting my best foot forward.
If you're struggling right now, do the circle exercise, ask yourself the tough questions, watch motivational videos like the one at the end of this blog that I watch ALL the time or even my video "Training 24/7 the Life of a Triathlete", talk to other athletes about what they did to pull themselves out of a funk and don't be afraid to ask for help. We've all been there. It's nothing new!! It's all part of the process.
In the mean time, I'm SO thankful to be feeling decent again and I'm looking forward to a great build these next three weeks that will prepare me for QT2 camp coming up in Feb.
I also have some exciting new sponsor announcements for 2014 so I can't wait to share those with you in the upcoming weeks!