Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What I learned this year

1.) I've always known that I race by feel, but I could never figure out how to make that work. Numbers don't mean a lot to me. They are more of a guideline. This year, Coach Liz really helped me with this. She didn't just say "Hold these watts". She said, "You will feel like will feel like you can't take another step. You will hurt more than you've ever hurt. Take it to the edge. Eat Pain, redline, go back for more. How will you feel? GOD AWFUL".  That's how you get through to me. I like that. Those are the words that I need in order to be my best. Don't tell me it's going to hurt. Tell me it's going to feel like death.

2.) Never underestimate the power of heat acclimation. We had an unusually cool and wet summer here. I spent many hours acclimating to heat: using the sauna several times a week, using two space heaters set to 90 degrees when I was on the trainer. I wore layers when I ran outside. When it came time to race in the heat, I was one of the few people out there who didn't struggle with the heat. Of course, Liz also gave me race day strategies for shedding heat while I was racing. Ice in my bra. Ice over my head. Ice down my back, drink 3 cups at every aid station. Put everything together and it resulted in a 40 minute PR.

3.) The important of POSITIVE language. At one point during the year, Liz sent me a research article about the important of positive language. The Research showed that when athletes use negative words, their performance suffered. For example, when a golfer said, "Don't hit the ball off the green". They would often hit the ball off the green. However, when they said, "Hit straight toward the hole". They hit the ball exactly where they wanted it. I was notorious for this. I thought I was doing the right thing. I would tell myself, "Don't slow down".  Once I read this article, I switched all my verbal cues. "don't slow down" became "hold this pace". "Don't give up on the hills" became "Climb strong". The crazy thing??? IT WORKED. Holding pace became so much easier when I said HOLD PACE.

4.) Using 3rd person language. Another research article Liz sent me had to do with how athletes talk to themselves. The research showed that when "you" used the the word "You" instead of "I", athletes were much more likely to be successful at reaching the goal. When you're struggling with intervals, say, "You've GOT THIS" instead of "I can do this". Crazy huh? It's how I've always done things. I tried it one day using "I".....the workout was much harder....I immediately went back to saying "You".

5.) The unexpected will ALWAYS happen. The sooner you can accept that, the better your race will be. This year, I repeatedly had unusual things happen during training. On the bike, I had mechanical failures. I had nutritional issues. I had stomach problems. I've found that if I allow myself to get stressed or start thinking about how this will affect the "outcome", I would get more stressed and things would spiral out of control. Instead, focus on the task at hand. Focus on fixing that flat. Focus on how you can adjust your fueling. Focus on the task at hand. Focus on the process. NEVER focus on the outcome or a finish time. Again research shows that when we focus on the process, we feel a greater level of satisfaction. This was never more true than my OLY in August. I was late getting to the race and barely made my start. There was a problem with the swim course, and it was chaos. In my rush, I forgot my fuel for my bike. If you look up my finish time, you'll see I had a pretty slow Oly....but it was one of the races that I felt the best about because of how I handled everything. After having a slow bike and a rough ride because I was out of water and fuel.....I spent extra time in transition. Then, I ran a 10K PR. I didn't let the previous events negatively affect my run. I got out there and ran my best run ever.

6.) Effort + Attitude = EFFATUDE.  The only things you can really control when you are training and racing. This year, I learned that I have a ton of EFFATUDE.

7.) Letting go of who you "were" allows you to become who you want to be. It doesn't matter how fast you raced last year. When you believe you are stronger than your race times, you give yourself the room to become who you want to be.

8.) Cut out the "yes" men and surround yourself with the people who will give you honest feedback. Those people are going to see the great things in you that you'll tend to ignore. They will also give you the constructive feedback that you need to be your best.  When I started with Coach liz, I did 2 races with her when I received an email saying, "You're steady state Sally, afraid to bust out." No one ever said that to me before. I never even realized that's what I was doing. As soon as she said that, I realized that I needed to change that in order to be the best athlete I could. My next race I ran a negative split.

9.) You always have another gear.

10.) Don't be afraid to state your goals out loud. No one has to believe in your goals but you. People will try to convince you that you need "realistic goals". FUCK'em. What those people think says everything about them and nothing about you. Because they can't do it, doesn't mean you can't. ALWAYS go for the biggest scariest goal out there and state it with confidence. Embrace it. Sleep it. Post it everywhere. When you believe it, you will attain it. You'll have to work for it, but you WILL achieve it.

11.) Be humble. There will always be people who are faster. There will always be people who are slower.

12.) Do what YOU want not what you think you should do and not what everyone else is doing.

13.) Learn your weaknesses. Accept them and find a way to overcome them when you need to. We all have our challenges. The most successful people have found ways to overcome their weaknesses. I don't like running long. During my HIM, we had a plan. Run to each aid station. Walk the aid station and start running again. Instead of 13.1 miles, I knew I just had to run 1 mile. I didn't think of it as running 1 mile 13 times. I focused only on the mile I was doing. Run THAT mile. Don't worry about the next one. Don't think about the one I just finished. Run THIS mile to the best of my ability.

You are worthy. You deserve this. Don't be afraid of success. Don't be afraid of your power.