I have mentioned it in the past and it is something that is very familiar to athletes who are training for individual-sporting events.
I think of it like a college student with a big exam on the radar. Two months to prepare seems like an eternity so it is unlikely that one would start studying that far in advance. Plenty of time, right? So instead of studying a little bit every day in order to retain information, days slip by and the student begins to get more fearful of the big day. One month away and the motivation is there but it is a bit sub par - the book is open but there is more goofing around and scratching the surface than really accepting the challenge ahead and that time is running out. Two weeks left and it is crunch time. Eek!
Long hours, exhaustion in both mind and body but there is not other choice at this point. Try to squeeze in 60 days worth of studying into 14 days and the only thought is "I wish I would have started sooner."
Fear-based training is not unlike the student who procrastinates until it is crunch-time. It's not uncommon for athletes to have a race on the schedule- months in advance- but there is a tendency have excuses or reasons for not focusing on the little things that will play out on race day and instead waits until he/she has no other choice but to at least prove to him/herself that she/he can do "it" in order to reduce anxiety.
Well, this blog post isn't about fear-based training. Instead, it is about fearing the possible.
What if you lived your entire life thinking about the what-if? What if you just got started a bit earlier? What if you dedicated yourself a bit more to the task at hand? What if you had a more open mind or a more positive attitude? What if you didn't wait until the perfect time to get started?
What would you do if you were not afraid to fail?
Over the past year in a half, I have been working with a mental coach, my friend Gloria who has helped me trust myself as an athlete and to believe in my ability to put my training to the test on race day. With the help of Karel, as my supportive hubby and coach, he has given me sets that I would have thought were never possible with my body and thus, he has shown me that I have the ability to reach higher limits with my training. These same athletic characteristics of believing in myself, wanting to challenge myself and being dedicated to the task at hand have also been very important in my personal life, specifically in my past education and continuing career.
As athletes, fitness enthusiasts or anyone who enjoys a healthful lifestyle, we are always wanting to better ourselves in both body and mind. Whether you are training for a race, looking for a new career, thinking about a life-changing decision or questioning an upcoming opportunity, we all have opportunities in our life to take something that we fear and to get out there and just try to go for it.
In our society, it seems as though many people are raised to want success. Seems kinda obvious, right? You wouldn't want to strive for failure in life when successful people are the ones who get the credit and attention.
But this comes with a bigger issue in that we have missed opportunities in life because of fearing failure. We question the "what if" and that scares us so we put off trying. We get frustrated at the first try and give up.
What's the worse that can happen? You don't get the job, you have to walk when you want to run, you don't lose those last 5 lbs, you get turned down, you have to wait until next time? Life goes on but at least you tried.
But then - what if the best thing happens? You get the job, you run faster than you could ever imagine, you lose those last 5 lbs, you get the opportunity you were wanting for, you don't have to wait until next time. Life goes on and now the possible has happened.
What I love more than anything about sports is the continuous opportunity to try. To try to become better, smarter, fitter, stronger and healthier. The opportunities are endless when it comes to seeing how close you can come every week, month and year to reaching your full potential and then you get to do it all over again the next year.
I remember at Branson 70.3 in September 2012 and having the run of my life. I had trained hard, worked on my mental strength with Gloria and I was hungry to race on a very challenging course. I had all the pieces together and all I had to do was put them together for 70.3 miles.
I remember on the 13.1 mile run that I was hurting...bad. It was not tolerable at times and I wanted to slow down. But I resisted. My mind had convinced my body that I would push and push until my body phsyically gave up. I trained too hard to not keep trying. My mind was not going to let my body surrender. I ran a huge PR off the bike, had the fastest female amateur run of the day, along with a new age group course record and placed overall female amateur. All because I refused to give up before I had to give up. It was a decision that I had to make over and over and over for one hour and 36 minutes..... and it was not easy. But when I crossed the line, I felt the feeling that I dreamed of as I was gasping for air and bracing my completely exhausted body. I was so happy that I went for something that I never thought was possible.
I could have stayed inside on the trainer or I could have skipped the bike to go for a run. But instead, I told myself to not fear the possible. Why should I let the weather stop me from having a great workout? I dressed appropriately and I felt great on the bike.
Then right into 10 min Z3 steady.
Then 5 x 1 min ON/OFF intervals
The right into 10 min Z3 steady.
The rest of the ride was Z2.
I hit my power zones and my legs were burning on the on/off intervals. It was windy and cold out but I didn't let it stop me from achieving the possible.
Then came the fearful part. A set that in my mind was not possible. No way, absolutely not. What was Karel thinking when he wrote my workout in training peaks? I suppose my athletes think the same for me when I write their workouts :)
4 miles off the bike - start at 7:30 for first mile immediately off the bike. Then mile 2 at 7:25, mile 3 at 7:20 and last mile "fast/hard". No stopping in between miles.
Mile 1: 7:30 min/mile
Mile 2: 7:19 min/mile
Mile 3: 7:07 min/mile
Mile 4: 6:55 min/mile
These are the workouts that remind me why I love sports. Sunday it took me 4 long miles to find my rhythm and today, immediately off my bike I had it in me. I love the workouts when I have nothing to prove to an audience or a crowd of spectators but instead, to myself, all alone, outside and a few birds watching me from above. Always keeping in mind that I will save my best performance for race day, these are the workouts that remind that fear can be good or bad.
So, how do you want to live life? Fearing failure or making the possible happen?
Really, what's the worse that can happen?
You are so much stronger than you think. Don't be afraid to try.