Monday, August 06, 2012

Suck it up sunshine and do your job!

Crazy times!  The past few weeks have been crazy times!  Kids are still home from school (another 4 weeks of summer holidays to go) and we've had big birthday parties, sleepovers, a few days at the beach in Wales, the purchase of piglets and a trip to London to see the Olympics (more later).

Training has been a challenge.  Focus - what I was looking for in my last post - has not been easy to come by.  As always, I learn things slowly and by having truths pounded into my head repeatedly.  One morning I was on my trainer struggling to complete a 90 minute trainer ride.  I was constantly thinking of excuses to get off my bike and end this thing.  I thought of emailing my trainer and whining that I couldn't do this ride. When it struck me I couldn't, because my trainer was out doing an Ironman.  So she was not going to be available to pat my hand and tell me I was fine for not doing what I set out to do (which, incidentally, she wouldn't have done.  And I knew that.)  I sucked it up and finished the ride - without much conviction but with an inkling of understanding seeping in that sometimes I just need to suck it up.  The next week or so after that I struggled through my training - in my heart of hearts feeling a bit sorry for myself for having to do all this hard work. 

At the beginning of the week I wrote to my coach and told her how I was feeling.  Her response was an incredible email with various points I'd like to share:
  • the first year of triathlon it is hard to learn to fit all the different things in.  Certainly true - having a coach is making it much easier but I would still say the sheer logistics and planning that go into fitting it in are a challenge. 
  • It is hard. But if I want do this, I need to just do it.  Prioritise it.  And be brave about it. 
In this respect I am not a terribly brave person.  I like to make decisions that others approve of.  One of the things I am struggling with is right now is that in order to make my training work and my business work I think I need to make some lifestyle changes that others around me will not approve of. Training for marathons has been something I have been to fit alongside my existing lifestyle and I have been able to do it without it impacting much on those around me.  My lifestyle has changed in the past 9 years but not in a way that, I think, has had a great impact on others.  I eat well, generally, but there's also plenty of not so good food choices.  A lot of socialising around me involves alcohol and while I don't tend to drink too much, I will certainly go along with that.  Although I love my early nights and early mornings, I  will also stay up later occasionally to fit in with the bigger social schedule.

To fit in half ironman training, to fit in the amount of training I want to do with my clients, to learn the new skills I need to learn as a personal trainer - I need to make some bigger changes.  This may sound sappy, but it came home to me on a bikeride this week. I was trying very hesitantly to turn my bike 180 degrees in a narrow lane.  I was going at it slowly and hesitantly and it suddenly struck me that in my mind I was willing the bike to turn but my body was not doing enough to actually make it happen - I had to be brave enough to turn the wheel and follow through.  And in Oprah-like sychnchronicity, this is what needs to happen in my life - if I want to make a change, I need to actually turn my wheels in the direction I want to go in. 

At 40, I cannot burn the candle at both ends.  I need to take my training seriously, and adapt my lifestyle accordingly.  Improve my diet. Prioritise my sleep.  Get my training in every day.  And not feel - like I have been feeling - all apologetic about it.  I need to treat my own training like my job - part of my appeal, if I have any, as a trainer and a coach is my credentials as an athlete.  And while I'm no winner of awards and don't expect to podium, ever, my achievements are credible and I need to treat them like that.  To get them, I need to train.  So if I need to, I will get childcare in to get my training in.  If I need to, I will leave a social occasion earlier so I can get to bed and get up in the morning at 5am and train.  Most of the time, I will leave the wine to others.  (As an aside, despite years of practise, I am not much of a drinker and my sleep and mood improve massively when I don't drink).  And I need to believe that it is legitimate of me to do this.  And I need to be brave enough to stand up for this choice when people challenge me on it.  I am not surrounded by other athletes, many of my friends make very different choices.  And I respect that completely.  I now need to respect my own choices.

Herewith endeth the sermon.

And I leave you with some photos of an Olympic weekend of inspiration - my son Felix and I started off Saturday morning by spectating the triathlon in Hyde Park (and getting friendly with Gwen Jorgenson's family who were wonderful and inspiring, despite her disappointing race due to a puncture).

Gwen Jorgensen

Gwen Jorgensen

After that race we made our way across London - which is alive, alive, alive! in a way I have never seen it - to the Olympic park to watch women's hockey and just soak up the atmosphere, before coming home for an amazing night of British medals - gold for lovely lovely Jessica Ennis, wonderful Mo Farah and the great ginger long jumping chap.
Running the Olympic marathon course early in the morning
Shalane Flanagan
Kara Goucher in the red hat behind the green chick
And then yesterday I ran my prescribed 90 minute run partially on the marathon course (cheered on by funny volunteers who all rated my chances of winning the thing!) before heading out to spectate the women's marathon.  The weather was, at times, diabolical but what a view and what a sight they were - amazing!  We cheered EVERYONE and got quite a few glances from the athletes (my voice is gone today).  It's been so fantastic to have the Olympics here - so exciting to travel to London to actually see it. And the games are not over yet..

So inspired by what I've seen, I'm on my way to realigning my life and priorities. 


Unknown said...

GOOD and NEW things, just make me feel fresh and energetic. That’s the magic of your articles .

Train the Trainer

Tobias H said...

I love that metaphor of turning the bike both physically and willfully. Really thought-provoking stuff, Petra!

Also, hooray for getting to watch the triathlon and women's marathon this weekend! It must have been so marvelous to see those elites racing by.

Tasha Malcolm said...

Very cool that you have got to experience the Olympics in person. I wished that we would have made the trek to Vancouver for the Winter Olympics since it is only like 8 hours away, but we didn't. I just think that it would be such a cool atmosphere!

Amanda@runninghood said...

Love love love reading this. This is the kind of post that just flows with meaning...purpose....power. It is a post that is written with flow and obviously poured from you. Thanks for sharing your heart/mind with us. These are the posts that charge me up and make me feel glad that I took the 5-10 minutes to read. I loved so much of what you said:

" And in Oprah-like sychnchronicity, this is what needs to happen in my life - if I want to make a change, I need to actually turn my wheels in the direction I want to go in. "

There are surely seasons in life. Not all of our days will be spent with a focus and goal. Not every day/season will be "Game Mode or Go Time" but when we do want something...really want it...then we DO need to put other things on the side. Those that really matter in life will understand. this is how we make our dreams come true...we are our own best advocate and if we don't set the limits then nobody will do it for us. True friends and family will understand. I often go through phases where I'm in super train mode and then I have a few months of relax/stay up late/drink wine/ put my feed up and eat cheese (ha!) mode (like right now). But when I really want something and I'm working really hard to get it, I need to say no to things and say YES to self care...I'm sure there are friends out there that don't understand and find my life to be boring and lame but the older I get, the better I get at shutting those voices/opinions out and following my own beat.

Excited to see you reach your goals Petra. And so jealous of your amazing weekend in London! Wish I was there. Such great memories.


Drusy said...

I'm with you on the drinking and late nights Petra. I just feel crummy all night and the next day, yet people really put the pressure on to drink. I'm learning to say no better.

All of us have to make some compromises juggling work and what kids and husband would like - it must be harder when you're not going to an office on a Sat, but it is your job and the success of your career! Balance is tough - managing commitment while being there for your family.

Billy's meeting me at noon tomorrow at work to go see the Triathlon a block away (!), hope for sunshine!

KW said...

This was a great post. I am about to start struggling with this very notion of not enough time for everything. I start my marathon training soon, but I will be hitting the long runs when it is Fall. This makes me nervous, because I will be losing light and some of the areas I run in are not great areas. So, I've been considering a gym pass, because I'm worried it will effect my training.

Awesome that you got to see the Olympics. I'm pretty much a runner now since I watched the marathon for the first time ever on TV. I was actually in to it...couldn't take my eyes away. Ha!

KW said...

And I also forgot to running shirt I use alot during my big races is Suck it Up Cupcake.

Susan said...

I could stand to realign my life and priorities, as well. I respect all that you're doing and know you'll come out in top.

Susan said...

BTW I am completely jealous that you got to see the Olympics in person!

Cotter Crunch said...

i am glad you are writing out all your feelings here. It's where we can support and feel motivated. Triathlon is hard and it's a one man sport. You are your own competition. Your training is 75% mental, but you know what, you CAN do it!

pensive pumpkin said...

The bike metaphor needs to be in your coaching toolbox. So very true, and such a visceral way to look at it. You are amazing.

And I have a serious Union Jack fixation (thanks for the blog post idea there, LOL) so those glasses really got my attention. Sooooo cute!!!

Jill said...

Hey sweet girl..
I read this yesterday but didn't have access to comment so I'm back - reread - and able to comment :).

I love how much you think and are able to coherently put your thoughts to beautifully articulated words. When I think and write, it comes out a jumbled mess and 2nd grade grammar.


It's really hard to squish in all the things we want to do in life, sometimes things got to give or we go manic trying to be only quasi good at a few things instead of stellar at a couple. Sounds like you're beginning to understand what it takes to do your best training. I just can't seem to get there with my diet...why o why is this so hard for me??? Is it my age? My inability to have self-control some days? Grrrr. Your post made me hungry for all I've lost, Petra. Seriously, I'm just out there slugging away at really crappy paced miles and not really giving a damn because it seems like I have SO much work....but dammit, I can do it. I got on my stupid treadmill today determined I would finish 19 miles - and I did. It wasn't easy, my stupid ankle hurt - but I finished. THANK YOU!!!! Had I not read your post before my run, I'm not sure I could have done it. You are truly awesome!

So love the picture of you and Felix - you two are absolutely adorable!!

Will get an email off to you soon...I have friends in town from Iowa all week and computer time is really limited for awhile. But I think about you daily!!

Much love!!

Emz said...

loved catching up.
You are amazing.
I love the way you write.
I love your attitude.

I love that photo with the awesome sunglasses & earrings.

Beautiful woman.

Jan said...

SO insanely jealous you were able to watch some Olympic events!! Especially the women's marathon!

Bookmaker Bonuses said...

It is quite hard when everything look like they are trying hard to make us quite. Discipline at the end is the most important thing.