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 step...one 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.