Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Goal achieved!

On Sunday I ran 10km non-stop. I set this goal 9 weeks ago and was due to complete it
within 12 weeks, but on Sunday I decided to run a different path that I thought would be about
8.5km. It ended up 10km. So with 3 weeks to spare..... I did it!

The entire day I was on an emotional high. 9 weeks ago I never thought I could do it
(well, not never, but it was hard to imagine). Back then running 2km non-stop was hard. Then 3km
was hard, 5 then 6 then 10. It was all hard, but 10km was no harder to run than 2km, I
just got better at running it, fitter, stronger. I got into the rhythm of running.

Maybe that's the same with any goal. It's always hard, you would not call it a goal
if it was easy to achieve, but "hard" seems to stay relative. For example, when I was at uni, it was
hard, but 1st year exams were relatively as hard as 3rd year exams. Of course 3rd year
exams are harder, but I knew more in 3rd year as opposed to knowing nothing in first
year. It's all relative!!

So, what if nothing was "too hard"? What could be achieved if you accepted that it would
be hard at the start and hard near the end, and that the journey would be  mostly
bearable? Would that knowledge disolve some if the fear surrounding seemingly
unachievable dreams and make them appear more achievable?

It has me thinking......

What could I achieve if any goal was as hard as the next? Would I set my  standards
higher? Would I give everything I dreamed of a go? Would I stop wasting time and just
go for it?

Maybe it's time for me to give everything I've ever dreamed if going a good and
thorough attempt. How hard can it really be?

I believe it would not be as hard as expected.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Changing Habits

I have been away for over a month- totally inexcusable!

But in that time, I have been productive, so productive I stopped blogging! I have
  • Been following a 10 km running program, and am up to 7km- 8 weeks ago I thought this was impossible
  • Been starting up a new business, trying to get my website content written for when I go live.
  • Started a new course for work so that I can change the work I do. This will help me transition to my new business.
  • Started training for the 50km night walk for Coastrek 2013- I'm team leader for the Tireless Trekkers. Last year I completed the 100km walk (our group came in second!) but I don't want to risk another fractured foot this year, so the 50km trek is what I've chosen to complete.
  • Been spring cleaning and decluttering my home to be better organised when I start my new business- its a constant work in progress.
I've also been not-so-productive and have started some not-so-good habits! I have
  • Been sleeping too much- i.e.Ive done a few hours of cleaning and tidying, surely its time for a nap!
  • Woken up multiple times during the night, so of course I deserve a sleep in (after taking children to school)!
  • Been studying at 2am in the morning, sometimes til 5am which further interrupts my sleep and gives me another excuse to sleep in later.
  • Been less than firm with my lovely puppy and let him sleep in my room, on my bed, in my bed. This is very very very hard to admit to!!!
  • Scheduled in exercise in the morning, put on my exercise gear, then choose to nap instead! Then missed out because I was busy in the afternoon.
  • Made excuses not to do my business work.
These are not new habits, they have just developed a life of their own at the moment. If I don't address them soon, the end of the year will come and I will have no website, no business and still be feeling hideous due to poor sleep habits! I am a life-long procrastinator and need to JFDI, so today I have woken at 6am, was up and showered by 7am and at work by 8am. Not a bad effort for Day 1, but it has me thinking of the other things I need to do.....

I obviously need a plan. To change a habit, you need to replace it with a good or better habit. So my habit of sleeping erratically is going to be replaced with going to bed at a reasonable time and getting up between 6am and 7am and not going back to bed. Procrastinating may be replaced by a timetable of activities or deadlines or daily to-do lists. I do have some bigger ideas of what I need to do, but they will need a little more work.

But for today, I am up early, at work and taking the first step to changing some bad habits!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A rewarded effort

I thought I'd share with you my workout yesterday. It very nearly did not happen, but I am so glad it did. It re-inforced in me that a small effort can have huge results.

As I was driving home from work, the storm clouds were gathering and the sky was getting darker. Reports on the radio were saying that the rain had started in other areas of Sydney. Bugger! I was supposed to go for a run, and I hate running in the rain (or wind, or heat, or anything not perfect!). Watching The Bold and the Beautiful was looking much more appealing and I wanted to find out if Hope and Liam would get married.

Ok, slightly pathetic, but I bet you have done something like that too!

Feeling guilty, I tried procrastinating, waiting to see if the weather would get worse- a strong coffee would help my run if I did end up going, and the washing needed to be brought in off the line, just in case the rain started. Better to only feel guilty about missing my run than to also feel annoyed about wet washing as well.

Fortunately, the weather did not get worse. I finished my coffee and collected my clothes before I could turn on the TV. So I got dressed rather before I could change my mind, packed up the dog and off we went.

The run was not very eventful, but the following things did happen:
  1. I started jogging straight away, rather than walking for 5 minutes (warm up aka putting off running)
  2. My dog behaved, running well with me and not being distracted by the other dogs and giving chase. My run was pretty uninterrupted.
  3. My breathing got into a good rhythm, and my self talk kept the same pattern. It was quite meditative.
  4. I did not feel like I was dying in the last km, in fact I felt like I could have gone further.
  5. A few people said hello- this seems to happen more when you both have a dog and are out exercising.
  6. It did not rain and conditions were perfect for running.
By the end, I was almost cheering myself. I was happy and on a high. I felt strong, powerful and in control, like I could conquer the world. I believed that if I kept training, I will eventually reach my goals, whether it is 10km or a half marathon.

The choice I made to get out the door and exercise, even when I did not want to was rewarded 100-fold. Such a small effort for such a huge pay-off. It make me wonder why it is so hard sometimes to find the motivation to get out there when the benefits are so rewarding.

And even better, Liam and Hope's marriage problems were the furthest thoughts from my mind as I concentrated on my own, brighter future!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mind power

A few months ago I made the goal of running the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival half marathon. I registered, paid and started training.

But something was not right. During my runs, my head kept telling me to stop running. My distances were improving, but I was still walking at regular intervals due to my head telling me "you can't do this!", "You? Run a marathon? Yeah, right!" It was driving me crazy, I was so determined logically to reach my goal, but self doubt was creeping in and my body struggled to defy my negative thoughts. It felt impossible.

So I stopped training. I ignored all the event emails and tweets and my souvenir singlet that I ordered still lies unopened. Opening it would mean accepting failure.

Yesterday was the race day, I woke up at 630am realising that I should have been on the start line. I did the only thing I could- I went back to sleep. When I woke again and looked at the clock, I calculated that I would have just finished the race. It was all over.

The only thing left to do was accept that I had failed to reach my goal. It felt HORRIBLE! I felt disappointed with myself and ashamed of my "failure".

The goal was not physically impossible, but I was mentally unprepared for all the self-doubt that crept in. It was purely my thoughts that got in the way of me achieving the goal. I have not given up on my half-marathon goal, but my head just needs some confidence in my ability to do a shorter distance before I attempt the bigger goal.

I am sure my situation is not unique. When we see successful people in sporting, career or business, we do not focus on their journey, we just see their destination. Many of them have had major setbacks and failures along the way. I am sure many have wondered at times if it is all worth it. Success is not necessarily guaranteed first time. I do however believe that perseverance will get you there in the end.

So, I re-evaluated my goal and now aim to run a 10km run in November, a goal that does not feel so big and insurmountable as a half marathon. For the last month, I have resumed my training and this time, I am working on my head as well as my body, and so far it is working well. Simple mantras like "one more more step" help me keep going during my runs. I visualise running my race, with lots of people, drink stations and the approaching finish line. I am already nearly half way to my 10km goal, running 4.5km non-stop, and my goal feels much closer and less scary than my half marathon goal. My head feels like it is keeping up well with my body and I feel much stronger mentally than I did when I was running further but stopping to walk. I am slowly getting there and am quietly celebrating my small achievements.

I don't want to feel like a failure again. I have to believe that I learned a valuable lesson about the power of the mind and that I will be able to be more mentally prepared next time to succeed.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A year of excuses

A year ago I posted that it was one year to go until the Olympics, and was wondering what you can achieve in a year if you put your mind to it and set some goals. I've had a few big goals since then that I have been working towards, a couple I have achieved (PT course and Coastrek), two are in progress (half-marathon, own business), and one keeps eluding me.
What I have discovered is that nothing ever, or rarely, happens in a linear progression. It would be so easy if it did. There are always setback and challenges along the way. Lots of ups and downs.

However, my problem is that I create my own setbacks- I stop or slow down or have a few days off, all with seemingly good reasons, but maybe they are excuses that are actually holding me back. For example, it took me longer to do my personal training course because I was mostly too tired to study at night, one night turned into a few, which turned into a week. That turned into a month, and it was so hard to get started again. In the end, when I finally put my mind to it, I had quite a few late nights to get it finished. What I was avoiding was something that just had to be done! Its the same with my running.  I don't do a session because I feel unmotivated, then you feel bad the following day because you did not stick to your plan. But the silly thing is, you get motivated just by running! Completing a session makes you want to run again.

I am my own worst enemy. What it makes me wonder is, what could I really achieve if I did not make excuses, did not procrastinate, and I just got out there and did it, even when I don't feel like it?

What will the next year bring, what can I achieve if I stick to my plan?

I have a few BHAG's in mind, but can I kick the excuses?

Do you also make excuses, and if so, what are your favourites?

Here's to a year of no excuses, and getting out there and taking action!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Putting it out there

Today I plan to run on the road for 5km.

Last week I achieved the goal of running 5km, but it was on a treadmill. I am dreading it so I thought I would put it out into the ether so I would have to do it! I live at the top of a hill (not very motivating as the end of the run is always uphill!), so my plan is to run down the hill, along a track, and back and see where the 5km ends. Then I will walk back up the hill!

So there it is- I will report back tonight with my progress.

Wish me luck.

8pm- I did it! It was not easy, my calves were burning and I was trying to keep up a certain pace which I just managed. While it hurt at the time, it was totally satisfying!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fighting genetics

Last weekend we had a family dinner, the usual sister, brother, kids, but also with my mums first cousin and husband who we hardly ever see (except at weddings and funerals).Three generations. Over dinner we were discussing family member traits, comparing how one generation is so much like the previous generation in mannersims, personality and habits.This can be expected. 

But we started to talk about those traits that we may not be so proud of, like compulsive hoarding or disorganisation. It appears that this runs in our family. You know the type, those who both keep every newspaper and piece of "rubbish" from years back and never throw out anything. But we started to compare notes on those of us who fight this urge on a regular basis, we know we have it in us to be disorganised and compulsive, but we find ourselves actively fighting it when we see it happening. Days of disorganisation are followed by days of manically oganising to avoid being like our relatives. Or we just do things that don't really get us anywhere- the photo below is a habit of my mother's. She cuts stamps off envelopes, soaks them off, dries them (around the sink!) and reuses them!

I often feel like I am fighting a losing battle, so while I can look organised on the outside, I don't get done what I want to do, and I always feel like I could be more productive and efficient. To reach my 2012 goals I knew something had to change. While I may not waste my time on stamps, I could procrastinate less.

Then while searching Amazon, I found a book that suited me to a tee called Eat that Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy. In two days I have started making lists and actually getting things done. I am working wholeheartedly towards my 2012 goals. I am not wasting as much time. I am confident that this will help me fight some of my genetic tendencies and actually achieve my goals. I am so excited.

What will you do in 2012 to help you reach your goals? Or will you be a slave to past habits? The choice is ours.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Starting again

It is real, I broke up with the bf at Christmas. Timing! But maybe not as bad as I thought it would be. As Christmas and New Year is a time of reflection, I was able to start the processing needed to move forward in a new direction, albeit without my wonderful bf who I will always adore, and who I miss so much.

Exercise and developing goals for 2012 really helped me gain some perspective. Coastrek training kept me making healthy choices with food and exercise. Goals kept me focused on my future. Twitter reminded me there is a world of people out there who I can relate to when I have been feeling lonely. Christmas has kept me focused on my family and being able to love and care for the important people in my life. My new Kindle from Santa has allowed me to escape when the feelings of sadness and loss were too much.

I am coping. I am determined to move forward with life and focus on ME for a while. I will make 2012 a good year.