I haven’t been feeling it lately.
I’m not sure what was going on with my mental game but, when I thought about my triathlon this Sunday, everything just seemed a little off.
I usually go into a race like a maniac and want to dominate. I think about all my hard work and training leading up to it, and use that knowledge to fuel my brain before and during the race.
It wasn’t happening.
On a recent run, I was struggling and thinking of how hard, hot, humid, sore, tired, etc. everything was. I tried to call upon my go-to mantras; keep your pace, run your race (even though I wasn’t racing, it works), can’t stop, won’t stop, a little faster, a little farther, a little stronger – but it all felt fake. My heart wasn’t in it and so my brain and body were not buying it.
It started me thinking that mantras are meaningless unless you truly believe them.
There have been many times during my running and racing that I have felt fearless and unstoppable. Up until about last week I was feeling tired and unfocused, and my mantras were meaningless because my mind and heart knew it.
So, what should you do when you feel like a phony and have a big race coming up? I’m not sure, but this is what I did:
Take A Rest Day
Usually this is a very hard thing for me to do but, not this time. My body was (mostly) fine but my brain needed a break.
I’m not talking about with my body because that is just not happening, but with my training schedule. Everyday I wake-up, look at what my coach has laid out for me and I do it. I don’t think about what I want to do, I just follow the schedule. Usually it’s easier that way and, a lot of times I love not having to second guess my training, but it’s also great to just do what you actually want to do for a day or two.
Face Your Fear
Let’s be honest, I was more then a little afraid of “failing” again and not making the top 10 women in this race and, therefore, not qualifying for Triathlon Nationals. Once I was honest with myself about it, I was able to let it go. I have many years ahead of me in which I can qualify, and Sunday may just be that day. Either way, this is supposed to be fun!
Read About Successes and Failures
As most of you know, I’m reading Ronda Rousey’s book My Fight / Your Fight and it was the best possible thing for my little rut. It’s filled with passages like this:
You can spend your entire life waiting for perfect. The perfect job. The perfect partner. The perfect opponent. Or you can acknowledge that there is always a better time or a better place or a better opportunity and refuse to let that fact hold you back from doing everything to make the present moment the perfect moment. I’m not undefeated because I had the perfect circumstances leading up to every fight. I’m undefeated because, regardless of circumstances, I still win.
She then goes on to talk about the time she was bitten in the foot by a pit bull, two days before a fight. She got stitched up, hid the stitches at the weigh-in, and beat her opponent in 25 seconds.
It’s hard to complain about anything after reading that and, Rousey’s life is one story after another like this about her determination and drive. Surely, I can get out there and run a race in perfect health. #perspective
I also happened to read the article in Runner’s World about coming in DFL (dead f-ing last) and how, a lot of times, it was the best thing to happen to an elite. Yes, elite runner Ryan Hall:
It was the 5,000-meter race at the 2006 London Grand Prix—the field was stacked with world record holder (then and now)Kenenisa Bekele, and top Americans like Bernard Lagat and Adam Goucher. The pace was hot early and I was off it quickly. Guys all around me were dropping out. By the time I hit 100 meters to go, the race was over and I was getting the dreaded pity clap. I remember thinking, I can’t believe I’m getting the pity clap. The humiliation made me take a good look at my running abilities [in short vs. long distances]. The following January, I ran 59:43 in the Houston Half Marathon. None of my successes would have happened if I hadn’t gotten last.
I’ve definitely been thinking a lot about how badly I want to chase my goals. It all comes back to me needing a re-set button. Hopefully I don’t have to come in DFL to prove that to myself.
Get Back Out There
Wednesday was a tough day for me as I put my boys on the bus to all-day first grade, in separate classrooms. It was emotional on so many levels and, when you lose your mom at a young age like I did, all of that comes to the surface as well. My Aunt suggested I go have lunch with a friend. Instead I met up with CRS (Coach Rocket Scientist) and did the entire triathlon course. Yes, I did.
Is my brain completely fixed and back in synch with my body? No. But, I’m ok with that. My goal is to relax, qualify, and have fun during this race, and not necessarily in that order.
The water at the venue is gorgeous, the bike course is pretty flat and the run, well that’s on a rocky and rutted trail but whatever.
For the first time in a few weeks, I’m excited about my last triathlon of the season, no matter the outcome. I have a feeling that when I reach for my mantras on Sunday morning, they will be filled with meaning.
Have you ever faced this in your fitness?
What do you do or read to help/motivate/inspire you?
I’m not a huge mantra person but when I need to pull it together, throwing swears into any mantra I can think of usually works. Not sure why, but if it works, go with it! I’m rooting for you on Sunday. Go get it girl!
You know I love a good swear session! I’m sure they will be flying out of my mouth on this trail run. It’s awful!!
It’s funny because my coworkers and I were just discussing about how much summer has been a mental struggle for training lately. I’m not usually a mantra person either but I feel as if I’ve been chanting in my head all summer different motivation. My current one is “no cop, no stop”…HAHHAH.
OMG that is too funny! I’m glad everyone is feeling a little of what I have been. Maybe it’s just training in the heat, humidity and anticipating the race? Whatever it is, I hope it ends for everyone!
I am happy that you have “let go” because I think that sometimes doing just that refocuses you in a weird way. You know you are still the goat (greatest of all time) even if you don’t qualify right? Sending the boys off in two separate classrooms is literally a double whammy. They will be great and grow leaps and bounds socially while have each other just a few steps away.
I’ll be with you mentally this weekend as I always am when you race. Just know that whatever the outcome–you are amazing!!
Ps. Needed this today!
I am loving the ‘goat’ and will be using that for sure! And, yes, I know it’s not all about qualifying.
The boys are doing great and I just love having them come home everyday filled with new stories to tell me and each other. It’s awesome!
YES YOU WILL be with me this weekend. I need my Nellie on my shoulder!! THANK YOU!
How are the boys doing? Are they liking school? How do they feel about not seeing each other all day everyday? How are YOU doing? I can’t even fathom this day right now.
I have definitely gone through periods of time where my head and heart were just not in it. I think for me it was a combination of being tired and having too many other things in life. Rest and time away usually helps for me. Actually, I have these reoccurring dreams where I don’t study for my final semester in law school and I totally ruin my GPA because I’m tired of studying, it is kind of a similar thing. Obviously that didn’t happen (and it was like over 5 years ago so I don’t know what my brain is trying to tell me!).
Don’t worry about not feeling in the game. You will probably pull it all out on race day!
I couldn’t fathom this day either and yet, here we are. It’s all going insanely well. They love school, are so excited and filled with stories when they get off of the bus and haven’t complained once about not being together. Me? I still cry when I put them on the bus in the morning but I am absolutely loving all my new found time!!! I can actually achieve goals that aren’t related to fitness. What a concept!
That is weird about that recurring dream you’re having? The universe is definitely trying to tell you something 🙂
Your timing couldn’t have been better. As I am packing up for my last OLY tri of the season up in Maine I am just not feeling it. I feel like I wasted an entire summer training. My goal is to “just get it done”. I hope I rally once I am up there.
BTW. You got this race on Sunday. It is a beautiful course, the weather looks perfect and you are more than ready! Make it your bi#^ch.
Oh no!!! I’m so sorry Kendra. I was really hoping you were feeling the opposite of this about your HUGE race. You definitely did not waste your summer training because you have achieved some amazing goals with triathlon and I’m sure there are mind/body benefits in there too?? Regardless, you will GET IT DONE in the best possible way…and then we can both move on 🙂
Good luck and kill it! You may as well since you’re going to be there… 🙂
Love this post….I’m not doing anything on a competitive level, but we all have personal goals for ourselves…. Every race, I want to get a better time than the last. But I know if it gets to the point where worrying about the outcome of a race is going to make me not enjoy the process, then I’m doing something wrong. It is the day to day training and runs and process that are more important than the race itself….there are no finish lines.
Absolutely! No need to be competitive with anyone but yourself to feel the pressure of race day. And I usually love the process and the training, which may be why I get so crazy about the actual race!
I’m so not a mantra girl–I think I am just too pragmatic. But I love when others can find something that powers them through–how cool is that? I’ve also had weeks where I’m just not feeling it before a race and you know what? They turned out fine. That fire is obviously still within and it will work for you come this weekend. Good luck and go get it!
Why am I not surprised? You would think I wouldn’t have them either but I need something to give me singular focus sometimes because my mind tends to go every which way – especially in a race.
I’m glad to know you have been here before too and that the race turned out just fine. As my husband will tell you, I tend to overthink things… Thanks Amanda!!
totally! i think i would do the same – take a day and change up the routine. i’m a total creature of habit but i’m also my worst enemy in the sense that i can make things SO rigid that i’m exhausted from my own details. or exhausted from someone else’s plan, either way when i feel burned out, i gotta mix it up. take the dogs to the park, run around and play. that usually helps. or just go and invert myself on my inversion table – hang like a bat. something about that makes me really happy 😀 happy friday, ali!
OMG I totally need to hang like a bat! Seriously, I miss my gymnastics and yoga inversions!!
I hope your boys are doing well in first grade – and that you’re doing well with them in school! I’m pretty sure “get your shit together” has been my mantra all this week. And it works! I don’t use mantras as much as drill sergeant self-talk when I run – which probably several psychologists would tell me is wrong, but it works. Best of luck on your race on Sunday!
They are doing great and so am I…well, after their first day that is!!
Maybe I’m outgrowing my mantras because my race was awesome!!! Thanks Laura.
You have been working so hard all summer – you will kick butt in the race on Sunday!! I’ll be rooting for you!!
For me, it not so much about mantras than it is about self talk. Talking myself through the hard parts, reminding myself how hard I have trained.
I enjoy reading about elite athletes and what they do to prepare mentally – so inspiring!
YES! That is exactly what got me though today and I did great!! Thank you Natalie!!
You have been on fire for as long as I know you. You’ll contjnue to do so!
Thanks Emma!!!! Something just clicks when I’m on that start line. Who needs mantras?? 🙂
Oh totally!!!!! I can relate to this! I think we all can at some point for sure. I had only one run this week that I felt smooth and strong. Sure, maybe I hit “the paces”, but there is a difference between barely surviving the paces and feeling strong for sure!!!I have taken a seat on the curb probably 10 times this week for a minute just to regroup and convince myself to finish it out (and seriously most of these times it wasn’t even a hard pace run). The funny thing is that I know it happens and I have no idea why I even try to analyze why. Just ride it out, that is all you can do! It could be 100 different reasons why and you will just waste mental energy trying to figure it out :). Just hang in and give it all you got :)!!!!!
Yes! I hate the “ride it out” runs and I had far too many of them leading up to this race. Luckily it all worked out but obviously I would still prefer to have some better training days leading up to it! Thanks Jen 🙂
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am SO excited for you I can’t wait until your re-cap post to tell you :)! Congrats!!!!! Where are Nationals?
Thanks so much Jen!!!! Nationals are next August in Omaha, NE. Weird but I’ll take it 🙂
Well, I read this blog to inspire me! You inspire me! I know you do for a lot of people and we are all pulling for you, not necessarily to kill it and win it and all that stuff, but just to attack it with your best that you have on the day.
Thank you so much for ALL your support and encouragement. You are such a great friend Carly and I so, so appreciate it! xoxo
I like mantras but when things are going bad, they don’t always work! I need to have a few strong runs under my belt to boost my confidence. Nothing else will do.
Exactly! Nothing boosts confidence like good, strong runs!! Thanks Wendy.
I definitely get in these kind of mental ruts and its a hard place to be for sure. It sounds like you are doing some great things to try to pull yourself out of it. How great that you could preview the whole course. Good luck in your race. I can’t wait to read all about it!
Thanks so much!! I was thinking of you out there today and when I put my timing chip on first thing this morning and then checking to eb sure I had an open water bottle on my bike!! Great tips 🙂 Thanks Sandra!! Maybe someday we can do the Timberman together!
I didn’t get to read this before I saw the results of your race – so I know how it worked out. Knowing how you worked through it though is very helpful and good to know. Congrats Allie!
Thanks Stephanie. It really didn’t matter after all!!
This is such a great post Allie. A) It happens to all of us, more than anyone realizes, and B) All we can expect of ourselves is to do the best we can when we can with what the day gives us. Sometimes that is a victory and act of superheroism in and of itself. Sometimes, it’s simply letting go and realizing that today is not the day and we’ll try again tomorrow. The great thing is the sum of all your good days and days you’re in a rut balances out to a lot of incredible days. You have much to be proud of no matter what happens on any given race day. Thinking of you. xo
You are absolutely right. It’s harsh sometimes that all your hard work comes down to one day, and you never know what that day will bring. Luckily. I kicked ass and came flying out of my rut! BUT, even though I had a great race, I would have preferred a much better training month leading up to it.