Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Head games: Mental block

A few weeks back, I got tired of my own bullshit.

Around the same time, Coach Liz attended the GAIN Symposium.

For me, it was a perfect storm. She returned full of new ideas. She emailed me and said, "Wait until you see what I have planned for you".

And I was....tired of my own bullshit.

Throughout the month of June and (I guess) part of July, we had ongoing discussions.

I'm going to mix up the order of events. Please bear with me.

One day, she gave me some cadence drills. I'm so over cadence drills. I actually hate them because I cannot do them.

I told her this. She ask, "What's holding you back"? I said, "I don't know. I physically cannot do the drills. I mean. I can do them for a few seconds. That's it".

She explained to me that this isn't my fault. And that she suspects it is due to weakened muscles due to all that baby making I did.

You have no idea how good this made me feel. (I probably should have brought it up to her sooner). The fact was that I'd been told....I'd read articles....over the years...SO MANY PEOPLE/ATHLETES/COACHES have told me about how importance cadence was. They all just said, "Do these drills".

I was afraid she was going to say the same thing. You'd think I'd have known better since we've been together +3.5 years.

Sometimes, drills aren't the answer. Sometimes it takes having a coach willing to listen to you. We've been together long enough that she knows when I am giving it everything I have. She knows when I'm frustrated. This was one of those times.

She set me up with a routine that I do 2-3 times a week. The very first day I looked at the workout, and I thought, "This is weird. How can these possibly help me"? Sure enough, there were several exercises that I couldn't even do and even more that I could do, but I couldn't do the number of reps.

The exercises are still hard for me, but only 2 weeks into it, and we saw an improvement in my cadence (particularly on the uphills).

Now, you might be thinking, "How is this related to head games"?  This WHOLE cadence thing became a mental block. When I ran and had to do the drills, my entire body tightened up. I was no longer relaxed when I ran.  I was starting to think that I was different. (For those of you who have been long time readers, you might remember a few posts about how NONE of us are special. Very very few of us have actual issues. The rest of us fall under the bell curve).

It became a mental block. I couldn't get past it. I was mad at myself. I was mad at Liz for asking me to do it. It was Newton's 3rd law in action. There can be no acceleration when two forces are working against each other.

Then, an easy conversation with her, new exercises, and I'm already seeing progress. What used to weigh me down is now a work in progress.

Moral of the story: Mental blocks can and will slow or derail your training. You need to know when to ask for help. I didn't know there was something that could help me until I asked. Maybe you haven't been able to break the 2:00 per 100 pace in swimming. Sometimes it's more than just swimming harder. Maybe you can't seem to climb hills the way you want to on the bike. Sometimes it's more that just working harder. We all have physical limiters that we aren't aware of. Those physical limiters can actually become mental inhibitors if we allow them to. Don't let them. Ask for help. You can't always power through things. Sometimes, the devil is in the details; and a very simple, easy fix is all it takes.

Up Next
Head Games 3: Going to failure to reach your goals