Sunday, April 15, 2012

why I do this

I've just come back from my 5 day skiing trip in Austria.  We had a wonderful holiday with lovely friends, good skiing (surprisingly good snow despite it being April) 
my goggles are crooked and the angle doesn't flatter me but hey - check out that run! 
and a very carb-heavy diet (do they even have vegetables in Austria?).  I developed quite the passion for Kaiserschmarrn which is a messy mixture of butter-fried dough, stewed plums and whipped cream.

and here I thought that I didn't have a sweet tooth.  It takes more than a few hair raising black runs to make up for this.  
One of my favourite things about going away is the opportunity it presents to look at your life from a distance - to contemplate where you are, where you're going and whether you are happy with the overall direction of your life.

And I've come back very happy with everything. I was happy to be skiing, but also very happy to come home.  Not everything is perfect in my life (thankfully) but I'm lucky and happy and things are beginning to come together for me professionally.

Getting to 40 has been an interesting journey.  The one area of my life where I have not felt I have ever found much contentment has been my professional life.  I have jumped all over the place in my life (BA English Literature, MA American Studies, then I worked as a commissioning editor for an academic publishing house, an IT trainer for a management consultancy, a web designer for a news website, a marketing director for a law firm).  Nothing has ever felt "right", which is not to say I haven't enjoyed the jobs themselves.

I have written before - many times - about the mental shift that has accompanied training as a PT. Becoming a PT has been the culmination of a major personal journey which started with me taking up running as an overweight, direction-less new mother.  And I know I keep banging on about this, but the mental shift has been the most enormous thing and I realised on this holiday that I am still struggling with it.  I have some confidence in myself intellectually, but still lack it when it comes to being a PT.  Maybe this is because I was never a confident athlete as a child (I was not athletic, nor very competent) and maybe that's the time where our fundamental sense of who we are, or what we are good at, is shaped.  I grew up expecting to make my mark, professionally, in some kind of academic field - as a lecturer or a writer or an academic.  To find myself at 40 with a PT qualification is completely astonishing to me.  Or - in all honesty - getting the qualification was hard for all sorts of mainly practical reasons.  Actually starting work as a PT is much harder because I am putting the brakes on myself.  If I really look at myself - and stepping away from my day to day life on holiday allowed me that - I can see that I still lack the confidence to actually feel that I can help others, that I can tell others what to do when it comes to personal training.

And I need to get over that.  And myself.  And believe in me - believe that I can be of help, of support, of use to others in their journeys to personal fitness regardless of their goals.  And belief is just that - there does not need to be proof, I just need to have faith.  Hmmm.  Tough. ( I have been trying to read The Secret and just cannot get through it - does anyone have any tips on something I can read which motivates, encourages belief and faith and doesn't sound so sappy?  I know this book has worked for so many people I respect and value but I just cannot take it seriously. )

So why do I do it?  This training, this PT business?  Because, fundamentally, I believe (there we go again) that it is good to move beyond what you know.  Because it is exciting to see what you're capable of beyond what you thought you were capable of.  Because that is always true.  There are always places beyond your comfort zone where you can go and find a new aspect of yourself.  And that's not always going faster, or harder.  Sometimes just different.  My current personal mental block is core strength exercises.  Sometimes it just feels too much like aerobics - too many memories of the 80s and early 90s.  When I didn't exercise at all.  And I need to get over myself, once again.

I do this - the training, the business, the goal-setting - because I love figuring out all this new stuff.  Finding new ways of coping (and often having to find a few different ones before one of them works).  The struggle to get over myself and beyond who I think I am is incredibly invigorating and energising as well as frustrating and difficult.  More than anything else I have done with my life, I feel I am working towards the essence of me.

And then there's the community.  You!  All the people I meet, virtually and actually, who share my desire to push beyond what I think I can do and who want to motivate others to do the same.  I have held back on joining any organised communities for a long time, but I was recently approached by Jamie and Alyse from Fit Approach and asked to become an ambassador for them.  I have been reading the blogs on their site for a while and love the multi-faceted aspect of fitness and health they espouse and the honest and direct message they share about being and staying fit and healthy.

Fit Approach Sweat Pink Blog Badge

There are lots of us ambassadors - plenty of opportunity to shop around and find someone who appeals to what you are looking for.

After my 6 days off training, I'm back at it this weekend and I have a 9:30 hour training week ahead of me (ooph!).  Wish me luck!

Friday, April 06, 2012

Everything's coming up roses.


I could waste yet another post telling you what's not working for me right now (I'm still not caught up on everyone's posts, have left it another month or so to blog, and my inbox is groaning - this whole zero inbox thing is so not working for me right now) BUT that's the train of negativity which has now left my station - things are looking up:

  • my career is looking up - in the course of the past 2 weeks 3 different opportunities have come my way.  Interestingly, they are all things I haven't forced into happening but which have developed more slowly and, perhaps as a result, look like they are going to be right (for now).  (Does this mean I am going to have to learn to be patient rather than forcing things into existence?  Is this the kind of painful insight 40 years have brought me to?)  Watch this space - the reveal will come soon (when my kids are back at school and I can focus).  
  • That flu-thing I had last time?  It knocked me out for a week but I recovered, got back into the saddle.  
  • the coaching?  Is totally working.  There is NOTHING better than being told what to do.  (Am I actually saying that?  Perhaps it's only true when it comes to training).  My coach scrapped all workouts in the week when I was recovering from flu.  Had I not had her, I would have, no doubt, been back at it too soon.  As it was, there was nothing in Training Peaks so I didn't do anything.  And recovered.  And for the past 2 weeks I have been hitting it.  Hard - for me.  This half ironman training thing is no doozie - 8-9 hours of training a week and scanning ahead I can see 10+ hour weeks!  
But 3 months into this stop start process of becoming a triathlete, I am feeling a bit better about things.  While I am still not fast in the pool, I can sense progress.  The bike is also getting better, if still not very fast.  And the running is good despite the volume being way lower than what I'm used to.  But more than that, I am beginning to get my head round it.  At the beginning I was just overwhelmed with the whole thing - swimming! biking! running! transition! bits of equipment that need to be bought! aaaaaargh!  The individual elements are now beginning to assume their correct size rather than the monster proportions they were taking up in my brain.  If coach tells me to swim 2000m I now know I can actually do that.  So I don't agonize over it for days.  I've even signed up for my first sportif - that just sounds so Tour de France! - in 3 weeks - 56 miles - and I'm mildly confident that I will make it round.  Whatever was going on with me in January / February - I feel I've turned a corner on it and am beginning to feel some semblance of direction and progress again.  

Blogging has kind of taken a backseat while I've been leading my life, but I need to stay in touch because the stuff shared is the stuff I need more of in my life.  Take for instance this nugget which wonderful Meg shared in her blog this evening, with special reference to dealing with teenagers: 

I had just emerged from a discussion with my teenager which started off not so well - I should have read Meg's blog first thing this evening because she advises strongly to bite your tongue which I didn't do.  However, after I did bite my tongue I did my best to listen, to not offer advice, and to help along the lines above.  It worked.  (I just showed her the quote above and she pointed out that what I said to her initially was none of the above.  Painful but true.  She then said that what she said to me in response was also none of the above.  Also true. Being a parent is more difficult than training.) Thank you Megsie - I needed you back! And on a practical note - a great big elephant in the room for me has always been weight / core training.  I just have this deep belief in me that I can't do it.  However, I'm trying to ignore that belief (10 years ago I didn't believe I could run a mile so things can change) and the incredibly impressive and buff Jess is inspiring me with her workouts.  Some of them have me laughing out loud because they seem almost impossible but I'm trying to ride with it and do them anyway.  The only way is up (or in, as I want my stomach to be).  

There's no way to even pretend that I'm going to be reading your blogs because I'm about to head off for 5 days of skiing - but when I get back, I will!  I promise!