The Lessons Of Discouragement

It’s a quiet Friday afternoon and I’m taking some time to work on this post which you, my faithful 1.5 readers, will be seeing Monday morning when you open your eyes and are tripping over the dog on your way to get  the lovely black gold we call coffee.

The day just cannot start without the stuff, can it? Oh let’s be real, the whole day is fair game for coffee. 😉

I’m much cleaner now than I was a few hours ago, sweaty and salt crusted from my time out on the road doing my brick training this morning ( bike/run)

Clean AND fed. It’s a good place to be.

Oh and coffee. Yes I have that too so I’m ready to get on with todays topic now….

As I’ve shared in previous posts I’ve taken on the lofty athletic goal this year of a duathlon ( a run/bike/run event) Some of my training days involve brick work because well how else am I going to make my body do that stuff on race day?

I’m going to share a few thoughts? A life reflection? learned on the road today. Perhaps you’ll relate or maybe at best and hopefully, it might encourage you.

It goes without saying  based on where I live, that my training during the summer will be hot. Not just hot, but hot and humid. I’ve been on the road at 6:30 a.m. and still manage to be a sweat fest. So pretty much no matter the time I can simply know the workouts will be hot and sweaty.

I’m ok with that, really. Fortunately, I’m pretty well acclimated to it. However, even in that condition some days are just flat out harder than others.

As I geared up to hit the road this morning there were a few things already going on with me. The biggest being,  half my head felt like it had cotton balls in it from some sinus stuff that came out of nowhere. Add to that, all that junk going into my stomach ( gross. sorry. it is) but it does a good job making me feel queasy. Add to that, the little food I had eaten pre workout had settled like a rock in my belly.

Even with that…

I got my gear on, grabbed the bike, and took off. It always amazes me at how things seem to fade away as soon as I clip in and take that first stroke hitting the road. I let the bike settle in under me and let my body get into the rhythm of the ride.

As the miles unfolded both the day and I were getting hot. I did 25.25 miles on this ride. Not flat roads but also with lots of big hills thrown in. Most of my ride is on the actual duathlon course.

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Somewhere out on the course….

 

 

I wrapped the ride, landed where my car was parked, quickly put my bike in, changed to my running shoes and was back on the road a few minutes later.

My legs have adapted well to the change from bike to run but it still takes a little time to let them settle into a new activity…especially after coming off a long hard ride.

My run is only 2 miles with more hills… but have mercy… when I’m already hot from the ride and the sun is beating down…. all I want to do is move quickly to get back.

I sometimes wish I had some shirt on that passing cars saw that said something like…

“Be nice to me I just crawled off my bike and now I’m running”

But I did it, (even if my GPS for some reason decided on my last mile to not pick  up parts of it even though I knew the exact distance) I Knocked out the run and as always that great sense of satisfaction from doing both of those activities settled over me.

Tired. Sweaty. Thirsty. And appreciative of my body for what it could do.

As I cool down one of the things I do is check my stats from my ride and run. Strava is great to track all of my athletic activities as well as the fact it lets me see what others do and how I stack up against them on those routes.

It’s like that proverbial carrot dangling in front of me 😉

As my numbers came up, I was admittedly, a little frustrated. My frustration as it does when I’m upset, can turn to tears. Where my segments certainly weren’t “bad”, I had no new PR’s.

I should say, the last time I did all of the course, I had multiple PR’s. Having no new ones  sorta fueled my fire of frustration.

Although I knew I hadn’t been a 100% physically on top of my game, and that the heat also affected me, I was still frustrated to have not done better.

I probably should interject here… I’m a wee bit competitive with myself …and have high expectations whenever I step into any of my athletic activities.

I sat on the warm pavement next to my vehicle,  looking at those numbers, clutching my recovery drink and choking back those hot tears.

What was it going to take? How long did I have to work and push to get over that next hurdle of being a little stronger, and  faster?

I questioned being out that morning and maybe I should’ve just stayed in or done something a bit less physically demanding.

I looked at some numbers with only seconds separating me from the times I had been previously. I never thought much about “seconds” but I’ll tell you, in the athletic world, they count for a lot. One second can drop you into a new category or move you into first place from second.

They matter a lot.

As I felt that weight ( and I’m sure being wrung out and hot from everything didn’t help my mood) settle over me the more sane part of my brain began to speak to me…..

The fact alone I had just ridden over 25 miles and then run 2 was an accomplishment not many kick started their day with! Regards of my ideals for my times, I had still done it.

The training counted and it mattered that I was out there.. even if I didn’t think ( in my mind) that it was one of my best workouts.

I realized that my stubbornness and grit to be on the road was an asset that served me well in the rest of my daily life.

Life takes a certain level of stubbornness and grit to get through.

I hadn’t quit.

We’ve all been there, right? Something seems tough. There’s something we know is going to require a lot from us and it seems easier to find a reason to not do it. Quitting seems like an easy way out.

You’re nodding your head… you’ve been in the same boat too…

But that’s when you dig deep, sometimes really deep, and pull out all you’ve got to do what needs to be done.

Making an excuse to not be out there would’ve made me feel worse than not doing it. I never finish a workout that I haven’t been happy for doing it.

Even if my times weren’t as impressive as previously.

That’s when it hit me.

How far I’ve come.

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How much progress I’ve made. The changes I’ve gone through. The strength and speed I have gained.

What I’ve learned through the process.

Each step moves me towards my goal and those steps are made up of good and sometimes not so good moments. But they all are leading to my goal.

I learn more about what I’m made of when I have to work harder or push myself out of my comfort zone.

The lesson for you.

I’m thinking as you’re sitting there reading this, sipping from your now tepid cup of coffee, that you may have been or be in a similar place.

You are pursuing a goal, working towards something important, have a new vision.

Discouragement, weariness, self doubt, feelings of inadequacy, questioning your sanity… all of those things might creep in on you.

It’s in those times my friend, that we learn more of what we’re made of. If we’re strong, we push back and reset our focus and continue our forward movement. If we don’t feel so strong, new strength can be born in us, giving us more confidence in our abilities.

It’s a time of growth and change… if we allow it to be.

Don’t give up and don’t give in even if you get discouraged.

And me? How am I ?

After those truths settled over me, I wiped off my sweaty, salty face and made my way home to shower and plot my next training session.

Are you doing something now that sometimes frustrates you? Do you get discouraged when you feel like you haven’t done your best? How do you handle it ? Have you learned lessons out on the road ?

 

 

 

The Thing That Scares You

“Fear will either create you or destroy you.”

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I hadn’t been in long from my morning workout, recovery drink in hand, when I finally landed in a chair and searched up the race I had started training for.

I ran my hand down my legs which were still gritty and grimy from time out on the road and covered in a heavy dose of dried salt …a shower would come soon but first…

My  running and cycling that morning had been a part of my training for a local duathlon… my first duathlon.

Of course the fact it was listed as “the toughest in the state” or that it was the “championship race” for this  type of event somehow hadn’t scared me off yet.

The website boldly unfolded in front of me… pictures popped  up of familiar scenery I was used to seeing out on my runs or cycling adventures.

I felt the excitement stir in me of taking on something new and challenging.

It was immediately followed by tears as I watched young, fast athletes speeding by.

Tears.

What was I thinking?? I’m skating into territory I have no experience in nor am I one of these young trained triathletes. I’ve never, ever done an event like this. I’m crazy.

For the love of chocolate, I’m an ordinary middle aged Mom/grandmother, what I am thinking??

This course is tough. I have a healthy dose of respect/fear for it.

Not in a weird way, but just a respect knowing that it will be by far, the hardest athletic challenge I’ve gone through.

If I’m honest with you, as I was myself, there was that component of feeling scared.

But…why?

What was scaring me? What did I feel afraid of?

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Ok, yes I understood it would be crazy hard. So maybe there was feeling scared of what if’s…

What if I couldn’t do it? What if I failed? What if I was last? Or worse, didn’t finish?

What. If.

I sat there comparing myself to younger athletes instead of giving myself credit for all I could do and was very capable of doing. I sat there forgetting my own strength and power that I had earned through hours and hours of training.

I lost sight of what I preach to everyone else… you are your competition. You only need to focus on your times, your speeds, your abilities.

No one else’s matter.

Unless you’re an elite. Then it matters very much hahaha 😛

I’ve never been concerned about anyone else’s times or paces. I don’t mentally pit myself against others and decide I’m lacking in some way so this was a foreign feeling to me.

I wiped my face which felt as gritty from dried sweat as my legs did… that shower would need to be soon….

I reminded myself that I was my only competition and if I never started, and never did it, and let some vague fear scare me off I’d never know what new levels I could take myself to.

I’ve had moments in the past as I considered the marathon, and then the 50K. If those don’t raise a tiny bit of feeling scared in you, I don’t know what will.

Thing is, I never, ever allowed myself to camp in the fear zone. I stomped it down, trained, and did it.

So here I am. Registration is now open and I’ve made the official commitment.. you know…. coughing up the money 😉

I know it will be hard but I’m looking forward to seeing how I can do with this. I’ve taken time to remember, I haven’t come out of an athletic back round but only started when I was in my mid 40’s and consider all I’ve been privileged to do.

Doing it is the thing. No matter what, when I cross that finish line, I will win.

I win because I stomped down fears and feelings of inadequacy and I will have accomplished something I’ve never done and I will be stronger for it.

It beats sitting around wondering if I COULD do it and missing out on all I learn in the process. Rest assured, you will be getting updates on my training in the upcoming months. Race day is Nov. 19.

So I’ll leave you with this…

Do you let fears hamper you from pursuing something bigger than you? Have you allowed them to and not gone after something you wanted?

Or… have you stomped down fears and chased something down you wanted? How did you feel?

What did you do to remind yourself you could do it? How did you overcome it?

Tell me I’m not the only one who’s encountered this 😉

“Every single one of us possesses the strength to attempt something he isn’t sure he can accomplish.” ~ Scott Jurek

 

Know Your Limits

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It’s afternoon and I’m holed up in my fav coffee shop with the intent of hammering out a post for you, my 1.5 faithful readers.

I’m listening to the happy banter of the baristas behind me as they whip up drinks. I’ve tried to get to know them and something about their lives. I like building those relationships with people, I mess around with them and some of them… I shamelessly tease and harass… even with all that they think I’m “cool and fun” and keep me hooked up with coffee when I’m around.

I’ll take that.

Anyway, it’s a gorgeous day and it’s hard for me to be inside, but in all fairness I’ve already been out on the road this morning logging miles as my legs remind me.

Specifically my quads with that tight sorta achy feeling that comes from hard work invested out on the road.

In a sick way I kinda like that feeling… I don’t mind tired legs when I know it’s because of what I’ve physically invested into myself and the gut level hard work that I’ve done.

Maybe I should say that todays workout was a “brick” session. For those of you reading this and wondering if I’m out tossing bricks around, no. It’s just a term that refers to one athletic activity sandwiched by another.

In  this instance.. for me.. it was miles on foot, followed by miles on bike, with more miles on foot to wrap it up.

I will tell you that it’s my second time to intentionally do this. I figured if I squish it in my midweek workout it’s a good balance to the rest of the week.

Why?  why you may be wondering…

Well a few years ago I realized there was actually an event that combined both sports I’m hooked on… running and cycling..  a duathlon. However, I’ve had a pesky Achilles thing that really derailed me in the running dept so I haven’t been able to pursue it as I had thought I would by now.  With some care, a tiny bit of patience, ALOT of stretching and rolling, I think it’s improving so I’m walking a careful line of doing enough but not to much.

I’m actually semi-hopeful I could do it by the end of the year.

Yeah.. I’ve publicly committed to doing a duathlon.  And not just anyone but one that’s listed as “the toughest in the state”. It should be mentioned that it’s literally run almost out my backdoor so I can train the heck out of the course all year so it does give me a slight advantage… slight.

The course though is some pretty crazy hills and inclines. It’s a 5K, followed by a 22 ride, and another 5K for the icing on the cake.

I thought about it this morning and wondered honestly.. what the hell I’m thinking??  I felt like I did when I first mentioned I was going to take on a full marathon.. terror and the fearful thought of ” can I do this?”

Let me tell you…if you’re gonna do anything there is simply no room…at all.. for that kind of thinking.  You will shut yourself down before you ever get started.

It will be an event with athletes half my age and in amazing physical condition. But then I remembered it’s really not about a competition with anyone but myself and going out and doing it.. even if I might be the last one crawling in 😉

It’s all the time I will spend training and the lessons I’ll learn on the road doing it. It will be the sacrifices and tired legs. It will be hours on a bike. It will be learning to move fast on legs that are tired after running and biking.

So I’ve started…small… but with an eye towards moving forward. Todays brick work was small. It was 2 miles on foot, 10 on the bike, and 2 on foot. It gives me the chance to work with moving out of gear and into it, of mentally shifting gears of activities, and mostly, learning how to move my legs quick after being on the bike!

I found myself wanting to push more this morning.. thinking… maybe I should move the distance up some.. or move faster… and I had to remind myself of this…

Know your limits.

Yes, I’m a runner. Yes, I’ve been cycling.  Yes I’m in a good physical condition. But it’s a different ball game putting them together and only my second training session out doing it. I had to remind myself for now, a few weeks, these are my limits of distance until I acclimate then I can add a bit more in the distance area.

To protect myself from injury or doing to much to soon I need to know my limits and operate there as I adapt to the challenges of doing both at once.  I’m fiercely competitive with myself so to say it’s hard reining myself in is an understatement.

That’s what I want to tell you, to remind you of. You might be new to a fitness program or toying with the idea of doing something. Maybe your friend has been after you to go to the gym or go out on the road.

Know your limits.

If it’s been awhile since you’ve done anything you need to know what those limits are and operate in that zone. Maybe for you your limits are just moving off the coach and out the door for a walk down the street a few times. Perhaps you’ve been running but are thinking of taking it up another notch…increasing miles a bit…again.. know your limits to protect against injury.

Don’t go out and decide you’re just going to run when you haven’t even been walking.. you’re setting yourself up for pain and failure.  Don’t go to the gym thinking you’re going to keep up using heavier weight when your milk carton is the heaviest thing you’ve been tossing around.

Take a critical look at where you are, what you’ve been actively doing,  and how long it’s been since you’ve done anything physical.

Understand what those limits are and operate within them. You will be constantly assessing and reassessing what those limits are as you get stronger.

Most of all, never be afraid to constantly be stretching those limits to new, exciting and more challenging things. Nothing feel better or makes you feel more successful than new physical goals that are accomplished.