Sunday, January 30, 2011

Clearing away the clutter

This weekend my son spent the night over at Grandma's and Grandpa's house.
My husband and I spent our entire Sat night and Sunday cleaning up the basement, organizing and basically clearing away the clutter. (my how my Sat nights have changed!) You see, we live in a 900 sq ft house (on a good day) with 2 bedrooms and 1 bath. When one thing gets out of place, it feels like the entire house is a disaster. I get anxious when things are out of sorts, I feel out of control.

This got me to thinking how this translates to everyday life and triathlon in particular.

For Christmas I asked for a few books on how to be a mentally strong athlete. I've been reading them and trying to implement where I can... but the main thing I've taken away so far (Im a slow reader) is that in order to succeed you need to clear away the negative talk, and replace with the positive. I wish that it were as easy as cleaning the basement. HA!

This past week was run and bike test week. It was also a very trying week all around. It was one of those Im sure each one of you have had at one point or another. The week where Monday starts off poorly, and you say Tues will be better, I can restart. . . and then it is equally as poor as the previous day, if not worse. Well that was my week... up until Friday that is. Friday I got out for my run test. 20 mins easy followed by 20 mins all out. Of course I had no prob. with the easy part... but as the clock ticked on and got close to my 20 all out, I found myself already with the negative trash talk- AND I DIDN'T EVEN START the test yet!!!!

20 mins hit and it was GO time. I started and remembered something my brother said when we were viewing the Ironman course last Sept. When you are given the orders to start the run easy and then pick it up in the second half it is difficult. But it is really only the first 3 mins of the pick up that sucks. Your body catches up to the new pace and settles in. As I was pushing my body to go all out - I started by thinking "there's no way I can keep this pace for the next 20 mins, there's no way". Then I turned it around to "this is only going to suck for the next 3 mins... then it will be better". Guess what? It WAS better.... and as that happened, I turned to focus on all the things I was doing well- keeping my form, breathing well, enjoying the sun on my face. The next time I looked at my watch, I only had 5 mins to go. You can do anything for 5 mins I told myself. And I pressed on and kicked it up just a hair.

When I returned to running after my son was born it was slowwwww going. Every step, every breath was hard, and felt monumental! I ran a 11:24 min mile. But, I kept at it, followed the plan... one step at a time. My average pace Friday was an 8:11 mm with my max pace at 6:54! Before I signed up with my coach my average pace was somewhere in the 10s.... so I've come a long way baby!!! (Thanks Jen!!!)

I've heard Ironman champions speak, and read articles that continue to repeat these same thoughts: Ironman is 90% mental. It is a battle of your mind, not your abilities. Your mind will quit on you long before your legs ever will.

So going back to clearing away the clutter.... It is a constant struggle to keep those negative thoughts out. With the end goal of crossing that finish line at Ironman... I must be well conditioned, and mentally strong.

One of the books I am reading (The New Toughness Training for Sports by James E Loehr) asked me to rate myself on a number of things, to help me identify where my weaknesses are. To address those weaknesses he has you to do the following:

1- Spend between 10 and 30 seconds each morning and night visualizing, thinking and feeling positive thoughts on what you are trying to strengthen.

2- Write a one page action plan on what you will do to improve each.

3- Track your progress- rate yourself each day on if you thought you made an improvement.
0 if nothing happened; + if you improved; and - if you moved backward.

Then at the end of 30 days recap.

For accountability sake I am posting my 4 current weaknesses that I have identified...and for the next month I am committed to actively working on these:

- Stay relaxed
- Be confident
- Be motivated (this is hard in the winter!!!)
- Willing to take risks

So now that my basement is cleaned and I have a clean place to workout and clean place to work on my computer ---
NOW I must clean out my mind... these weaknesses that I am working on, do not just apply to sport... but to all areas of my life. I challenge you all to try doing the same... curious to see how this works for others.

PS- I re-take my bike test this week. Got to 13 mins of the 20 and the computer that was running the test ran out of battery--- not fun.

Pic of the finished basement. (ahhhh- refreshing!)

Until next week.....


  1. YEAH CHERYL !! That basement will help you out a ton! You need a flat screen TV in front of that bike though! :)) And, you need a TM. LOL....I love that you are working hard on the mental prep and doing those mental exercises - they will help a ton!!! Hang in there!

  2. A Treadmill and flat screen would be great...Just need to find a generous soul who is giving away both - haha. The iPod is my flat screen right now.

    Thinking I'll have to snowshoe instead of my run tomorrow. B11zard!!!

  3. So I meditate and you prep for ironman.... seems like we're doing the same thing! (love that basement)