What do you tell yourself?

voicesinheadIn sport and in life getting beyond the stories we tell ourselves is a huge part of the battle.

The mental side of sport is more powerful in helping us succeed (or not) that you can imagine. Not just in sport but in life. If I have to do something I don’t want to do I will make up hundreds of excuses of why it can wait until later or I don’t have time for it yet. If I am doing something I love – racing, swimming or cycling with people that push me – I can crack like a nut mentally. I’ll tell myself all sorts of things that will allow me to back out, slow down or want to give up. We have to listen carefully to the stories we tell ourselves and make sure they embolden us and not hold us back. Easier said than done!

I raced today.

I have taken a long break (9 months) away from structured triathlon training. I was happy with my decision to step away for a while and just do what felt fun. Just as I made peace with this decision, a few of my sponsors asked about my race schedule this year (on the heels of me accepting lots of nice free gear etc.) Feeling a little guilty about not racing at all, I decided to ramp up again and start training for a few races. And I feel like I am starting from scratch.

My first rides back on the bike were slower and harder than anything I remember. How will I ever reach a level of bike fitness like I did before? Maybe I’m too old. Then I raced in a trail race today after putting 200+ miles in on the bike in the last 10 days. My quads felt every mile from the bike as I lumbered up and over the coastal hills in Laguna Beach – minutes behind the people I should be keeping pace with.

And you should have heard the conversation I had in my head. Even though I knew it was a training run for me and I wasn’t “racing” (nor should I be), all I thought about was how slow it felt and how I don’t think I’ll ever get back to being able to run hills like this ever again. And, “What will my sponsors think?! They don’t give me free gear so I can walk and come in last. They will drop me for sure.”

There I was, running on a postcard perfect day in beautiful green hills overlooking the ocean feeling sorry for myself, worried about people seeing how slow I had become, blah, blah, blah. I worked at quieting down that voice and enjoying the run and knowing why I was there. It was an important training run on tired legs to build towards the fitness I want to have come June. It was my husband’s second race ever and its great to see him doing well and enjoying it.

One of the 5k Challenge participants voiced worry about running the 5k since he hadn’t been keeping to the schedule and he’d be the slowest person out there (you know the story.) I reminded him that it was a charity event for animals and 99% of people would be walking and socializing. Its just a fun time and you don’t even have to finish if you don’t want to. Just show up and see what happens.

Think of all the things we opt out of, put off or ignore because we think we can’t do it, aren’t good enough, we’ll look bad or we won’t meet our expectations or other’s expectations of us. I can make a good story for just about anything, but I try and force myself to just show up and see what happens.

This weeks challenge.

I did this challenge with a client and it turned out to have great results. Think of something you have been putting off for whatever reason, but something you really want to get done. It’s that thing you don’t even want to think about because you have put it off or avoided it for so long. It could be getting exercise in your day (which would be fitting for the theme of the 5K Challenge) but it can be ANYTHING – cleaning out a desk or closet,  starting a project you have – you get the idea.

Tomorrow spend 10 min. and only 10 min. on this task. Then walk away and share what you did with someone. The next day you do 10 more min. On day three you can add 5 more minutes for a total of 15minutes only if you want to. Day 4 can go for 10 to 20 min. Commit to a minimum of 10 minutes but no more than 20 for days 5 and 6.

If your task is around exercise—commit to ignoring the voice that tells you how tired you are, how cold it is, how slow you are or that it isn’t worth the effort to go do it for just 10 min. Just show up and see what happens. Heck, if you get only 5 min. done, start there.

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