What’s Your Next

whats your next

 

Happy Monday beautiful people!  Even as I write that I’m aware in the crazy way the universe rolls, it’s actually the end of Monday for some of you on this planet and you are now preparing for Tuesday.

This can be a bit much for my brain to process so I’ll just leave it here and say I hope you’ve had an awesome day no matter what it technically is.

For me though, it’s Monday. Monday morning.

And for the record I’m not “anti-Monday”. I’m glad I’m blessed to still be here, to experience another day of life.

Perspective people, perspective.

My last few Mondays, and today, and the next several will be heavy training days for me. I kick start my week by doing the entire duathlon course start to finish. It does seem rather daunting when I’m slowly coming to life waiting for the coffee to brew wondering if I’m gonnna churn out all the energy this task in front of me will require.

Of course that is my non-coffee brain thinking. Once I wake up more and slip into my gear I’m all business and ready for the task at hand.

Weeks remain till race day. I’m already feeling that edginess that comes over me as an event approaches.

It’s not just the race, it’s the awareness that all of it will be… over.

I’m well acquainted with the feelings and emotions of preparing for a big athletic event and the inevitable let down of emotions when it’s done.

There is something that can’t be explained in the preparation and training ultimately culminating in this event I’ve prepared for.

In those miles and hours of training leading up to it, there is a sort of hunger that develops. A hunger that really is disguised as passion.  To see myself improve, make better times, take things on a bit more effortlessly as my body adapts to the rigors of what it’s being put through.

Honestly, it’s a bit addicting.

All the while in my mind though is the question… “what’s next?”

That question can taunt and challenge. It can intimidate and have a level of fear. It can also be the thing that makes me examine how much more I can bring to the table.

What’s my next thing

It’s never far from my mind. I’ve been asked if I’m gonna do a marathon again. Ha, I will most likely start with a half to warm up to it.

Yes, I love distance running and I love what it’s taught me and how I’ve grown from my experiences on the road.  In some crazy ways, I’ve missed it.

Obviously, training for the duathlon, my athletic goals have been much more laser focused. My running has been shorter and geared to my event. Not to mention, doing a multi sport race requires my body to perform in different ways so I need to keep my energies centered on that.

But I’m heading back to distance running. Maybe a spring half marathon…we’ll see. I already have fully acknowledged I’m gonna miss those brick training days ( combined running and cycling back to back) I’ve come to enjoy the challenge and hard work of them and I may just keep one built into my training week… because… duathlons. 😉

What’s your next thing

ok this has been leading somewhere. Let’s talk about you.

Do you work and strive for something specific without a thought to where do you go from there?

How do you continue to grow, change and challenge yourself?

Do you see your current endeavor as a learning process to get to a new level?

Yeah I know, not everyone is doing something athletic oriented, but you for sure, have goals or dreams something you’re pressing on towards.

I’ve loved every step of the journey I’ve been on that’s built me as an athlete ( well, most steps haha) I’ve accepted it’s where I am at that moment.

You as well should embrace your journey to your goals.

But for all of us we should never lose sight of the fact we can always do more, be more, achieve more.

Maybe I’m wired a bit more intensely. Maybe the physical challenges I’ve put myself through have only caused me to wonder… what else am I capable of?

You know, that statement applies to you too, right?

What else are you capable of? How big can you dream? What new thing can you take on?

That next step

Don’t get me wrong. That next step once you hit a goal might actually scare you, and that’s ok.

I had 4 half marathons under me without a single thought to running a full one. I mean come on, that’s 26.2 miles! It was when I finished my fifth and walked off the course with my best time ever that the idea floated into my mind…

“It’s time to consider a full marathon”

I shoved it out of my head and dismissed the idea as a lack of carbs to my brain for the crazy thought.  Really. There’s no way I’d do a full marathon.

That was in the spring, and by end of year, I had my first one under me.

I had only a fleeting thought after I committed of wondering “if” I could do it. I stomped it out and never let myself think I couldn’t.

A few pointers

Nothing in our lives accidently happens. If you want to do something, you’ve got to be intentional.

~ Set your new goal.  I’m still so old fashioned and love writing stuff out where I can see it. Use a calendar to make reminders or things you need to do daily or weekly.

~ See yourself doing it.  Don’t allow any idea to creep in that makes you doubt yourself. Your mind is a powerful playing field!

~ Engage with like minded people who can encourage you on your journey.

~ Be the best student you can of what you are pursuing… always be learning!

~Don’t be afraid of new challenges. These bring us more growth.

Getting to the next step might be big and scary and we might wonder if we have what it takes.

You do. We all do.

Enjoy your journey, embrace where you are, but never stop asking “what’s next”.

 

 

 

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The Madness And Fear Of Endurance Sports

“Every endurance challenge scares me just a little.” ~ Dean Karnazes

It’s a quiet Sunday afternoon. Everyone has left the house so I escaped to my fav coffee cave to write, reflect and think about the week in front of me. It’s hard not to think about the fact that next week on this day, at the time I’m sitting here writing, I will be in the church watching my oldest son get married.

I’m also aware 2 months from today is my first duathlon. Heck, it’s my first ever race on a bike. It’s also listed as the toughest duathlon in the state AND the championship race.

What… on earth.. am I doing in it ?

I decided a while back that there is a certain amount of madness involved with endurance sports.  Some part of the brain has to change that allows you to accept physically hard and challenging things as normal.

As in, sharing with some ladies in my yoga class last week that I hadn’t ridden far the day before, just 16 miles, to which they started laughing and informed me that 16 miles was a lot.

I really don’t think so anymore. I don’t think my 20 mile rides are long either.  This is where the madness might be setting in 😉

I will be the first to admit, sometimes it’s not just the distance, it’s also what’s IN those miles that carves out something new in me. Obviously, riding flat roads is usually a piece of cake, throwing in hills and inclines that challenge my body is always a game changer.

It’s definitely a love/hate relationship.

There’s a crazy madness in training my body, learning it’s limits, and then pushing past those limits that’s exhilarating… yeah… we’ll just go with that word for now 😉 Exhilarating.

Endurance is built on hours and hours of consistent training, constant change, and a large part of stubbornness.

When someone laughs and tells me I’m “crazy” based on my current athletic goals, I do believe they are right. There has to be some sort of madness that makes an otherwise sane person believe that riding and running miles on end is somehow… normal.

But alongside the madness is another parallel attribute which is fear.

The quote I opened with is so true and so perfect. And it comes from without a doubt, the strongest, most fit, endurance athlete on the planet.

I feel like I’m in good company if Dean Karnazes admits he gets a bit scared with a new endurance challenge. Admittedly, he does far larger, longer, crazier and insane endurance challenges than I will ever face but at the same time, if someone like that admits to a healthy fear of new endurance events, then I’m in good company.

When I use the word fear I don’t mean like, sitting in a corner shaking and helpless. If that were the case, I’d never be doing what I do. This fear, in my opinion, is one of perhaps a healthy respect of what I’m up against. A recognition that this new challenge has the potential to eat my lunch, and me too for good measure.

There is respect for the miles, the terrain, the elevation, climate, everything.

There is a healthy fear for new territory that has never been physically traveled. Each time I’ve set out to do something new athletically, there’s that “fear” of the unknown.

The “what if’s”……

What if I can’t do it? What if I don’t have what it takes? What if I’m not as good as someone else? ( does that even matter?) What if I haven’t trained enough? Long enough? Hard enough? What if I didn’t prepare in the right way? Am I going to be able to ride such a tough course and then get off and run those last few miles strong?

All of the “what if’s” are related to fear.

Even now, on my training rides, knowing how tough they will be, I usually have that in the pit of my stomach. That fearful respect of knowing how hard it really will be, and wondering again, if I have all that’s required to take on this new endurance challenge.

Somehow, things always seem to change the minute I’m out on the road.  In my gear, clipped in, the miles settling in under me, my mental gears shift along with the ones under my hands.

I focus on the mile I’m in, the road that’s in front of me. I know and have already mentally apprehended the hills and mountains I’ll be riding and remind myself that I’ve already done them before, the challenge is to keep taking them stronger and faster. The fear begins to give way to what I know I’m capable of.

Fear gives way to strength and power. Fear gives way to me understanding that although it’s not easy, it will begin to feel that way the stronger my body gets doing it over and over again.

And then it happens.

I finish a long hard session and feel victorious, empowered and strong. I also feel dirty, sweaty, and hungry.

But the overarching feeling is one of accomplishment. I did it again. The hard workout that planted a healthy fear of respect in me, reminds me I can do whatever I put myself to and that my body is capable of being pushed, and then pushed again, well out of it’s original comfort zone.

By the time some of you are reading this I’ll be out riding the entire course this morning, or will have finished it, another notch in my belt.  This will be my first full and complete ride on it. Last week I did it but the mileage came up a bit short from what the race was. A quick message to race director and I learned the turn point was farther down than I thought. So knowing the exact layout this morning, I’m taking it on.

I know it won’t be easy. I know there will be that niggling fear of the toughness in front of me. I know what the outcome will feel like, so I will press on and push myself into the realm of discomfort, because that is where change occurs.

Endurance sports. ..an odd mixture of madness and fear.  I seem to have both in spades which will help me well in my upcoming race.

The madness will keep me going, building longer training sessions and adding more miles. The fear won’t stop me. I will train, I will prepare, and I will go out and do the best I’m capable of.

And I when I cross that finish line it will be a sweet victory knowing all I stomped down to get to that moment, and it will be worth it.

Do you have something you want to pursue but feel a bit of fear with it? Do you embrace that or shy away from it?  If you do endurance sports, can you relate to a bit of the madness?

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Getting those miles in……

Do What You Can’t

You-must-do-the-thing-you-think-you-cant-do

 

“Do what you can’t”

It was a clip off of a commercial that was on. The tag line jumped out at me.

I let the words breathe over me for a few moments.

“Do what you can’t”

It left no room for considering something as impossible… unattainable… or out of reach .

Like.. just do it.

I considered those words a bit longer. I remembered an acrostic I had seen on “I can’t” years ago.

I

C- certainly

A-  Am

N- Not

T-  Trying

I thought of the times in my life those words had crossed my lips. I’ve entertained those less and less as I get older. I’ve done enough crazy things to realize that really, I can.  I just need to train my mind to get out of my way and do it.

I thought of the times I’ve heard people say that. Sometimes in regards to things that they want to do or sometimes it’s in regards to what I’ve done ( oh  I cant run…can’t lift weights… can’t….)

Listen, I couldn’t either a few years ago. Once my mind got out of the way and I let my body do things it’s  naturally made to do, It was crazy how it turned into…

watch me.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. Sometimes the things I’m considering scare me. They scare me ’cause I start thinking those thoughts…can I do this? Am I able?

Those thoughts of self doubt scare me a bit more than the thing I’m considering taking on, if  I’m being honest.

Why? Because I let doubts creep in about my abilities… but I’ve learned .. I can really train myself into anything.

How I think. How I approach life. My attitude towards things. How I take on new physical activities .

So as I considered that little phrase it just made me think of the times I’ve  taken on the things “I can’t”.

Fear has no place there. Insecurities have no place there. Self doubt has no place there.

You know what happens when you push through and take on the idea  that you can do anything?

It’s empowering. It builds confidence .You feel you can take on the world.

What big thing do you want to do ?

Go back to school? Lose weight? Take on a new project? Pursue a new fitness goal?

What do you need to remove from your thinking to accomplish something you think you can’t do?

You are only limited by your mind and the self imposed limits you put on yourself.

Go do what you can’t.

 

 

Cheers To The Average Athlete

average-joe

 

So yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday here in the good old U.S.A.  to say the results  upset the applecart of many is putting it mildly.  Two big footballs teams battling it out for the top honor of being “the best of the best” in the league. It seemed like the game was in the bag until the Patriots (although not my choice to win 😉 did some pretty incredible athletic things on that field to not only pull from behind, but to take the game into the first overtime ever in Super Bowl history, winning the game and the title.

It’s hard for me to not observe all that goes on in a game from an athletic stand point. I am in awe that these guys can get slammed by 100’s of pounds of bodies on the ground, fly through the air, run at the speed of light, move with the agility of a deer being chased, bounce and land on their feet again. Their moves I often think of as strong male ballet. For such a rough sport I find beauty in the strong athletic movement of it. These are athletes in their prime.

Yes, I know and understand these men train as hard off the field to keep their bodies strong for the sport they play on the field. Nutrition and strength training are vital roles in their success on field.

Ok… so this post isn’t about the fact I may be getting more and more into football…. 😉 it is though, going to be a nod to the average, ordinary, hard working athlete.

To you. To me. To the normal people.

Those  who are disciplined and dedicated in training their bodies for tasks beyond the “usual”. We won’t be under stadium lights in front of a million screaming fans or earning coveted trophies.

No, our rewards will come from the dedication to our own sport ( or if you’re crazy like me…sports…) where we train hard against ourselves, setting new goals, working hard, returning home exhausted with maybe the only one happy to see us being our dog who is happy to wash the sweat from our grimy legs.

We alone know the mornings or evenings we will put ourselves through our sport, sometimes not feeling entirely like doing it. We know the mornings we are up early out getting it done while people still sleep. We understand the aches of a body worked hard and yet somehow, embrace it, preferring that over aches from doing nothing at all.

Our training teaches us more about nutrition and eating smarter to perform better. We learn how to set aside foods we don’t need and focus on foods that are fuel for our bodies to become stronger for our sports. It becomes a learning process that somehow our bodies teach us as we move along. How to eat enough, and eat enough of the right foods.

We set goals, lay out our own “game plan” and train like the world depended on how successful we are at it. We perhaps, have a few events we train for in a year. For some, it could be stepping stones to something bigger.

A 5k that starts off as a lark, leads to training for a 10k, and maybe ultimately a half marathon or more.   A cycling event or  maybe a mix of cycling and running. Perhaps there are loftier goals of full marathons or Ironman competitions or the desire to see just “how far” you can go doing something.

The things we can choose to pursue are limitless… sometimes only hindered by our minds and our thoughts of doubt that could hold us back.

So this post is to all of us, to you, the athletes who are inspiring to every day people who watch you. You may never get a “prize”, or have public accolades, or be famous. But what you do every day, what you work towards, the goals you set, the ambition you embody, the passion you have for your sport, could be inspiring someone else to get out and move. It could inspire them to try something new and different, to get beyond their comfort zone because they see you working it and doing it every day.

And that my friends, is certainly reward enough. To inspire and motivate others is one of the greatest gifts of all.

 

incredible-average

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intimidation, Life, And Crushing Goals

Intimidation.

 To intimidate implies inducing fear or a sense of inferiority into another, to make timid; fill with fear. 

If we think of this word what usually comes to mind is in regard to people…. one person intimidating another.

That in my opinion, is the lowest form of cowardice however, this isn’t where I’m going in this post.

I want to talk about how we can be intimidated with life or things in life.

Keep in mind part of the definition…. ” to make timid, or fill with fear”

Intimidation is just fear and fear can be crippling to living our life out loud. It can rob us of our potential and the potential for our lives and what we can accomplish.

I contemplated that in a fresh way this past week.

I try not to live my life in an intimidated way on any level. If there’s one thing living an athletic lifestyle has taught me… being intimidated has no place in it. In turn that has carried over into the rest of my life.

Every new challenge or goal has required a level of strength and discipline to stomp down any aspect of fear and intimidation.

The fear of the unknown. Feeling intimidated or inadequate.

Being able to face a physical challenge that ( in the moment) seemed daunting and out of my perceived abilities.

For instance….Learning to run. I know, sounds easy enough, right? But running is hard.

I remember being up to running around 6 miles several days a week when a friend tossed out at me I should run a half marathon.

I laughed. Yet, she had planted a seed. I rolled it over in my head and within a couple weeks I had signed up to run a half marathon a few months later.

Yes, it feels intimidating to look at running a race that’s 13.1 miles. I felt the worry of “what if”.

Yet I toed that line and did my first half in 2:15. I walked away with a new level of confidence and a new awareness that stomping down potential fears would only make me stronger in what I pursued.

It was the beginning for me in my athletic journey… a take no prisoners and don’t even think you can’t do it mentality.

More half marathons, full marathons, a 50K all eventually fell under my feet.

No room for intimidation.

Yet, there I was again facing it this week out on my bike. Ha, cycling has also taken me to a whole new level of finding out what I’m made of.

It’s demanding and requires much strength. Toss in some major hills and it’s even more fun.

For instance, this one particular hill. ( It’s really a mountain they cleared and paved over if we’re being honest) Anyway, it’s a blast flying down it, but it requires a huge amount of strength mental and physical to ride up.

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You want a strong mental game when you see this coming and I’m fairly sure I break the speed limit on the way down 😉

 

 

It was a part of my route the other day. I’ve ridden it before but  it was always in the front of my mind on my ride… it was coming.

That’s when I realized I was allowing it to intimidate me.

Why? well truth be known, I’m fully aware of the physical demands it requires.

It’s freaking hard. It requires a brutal amount of my strength.

But I know I can do it.. that I have done it… and the way to keep crushing it and putting it in place is to well.. just keep doing it.

Keep heading out there, staring it down and using the same strength I’ve used to muscle through every other challenge and conquer it.

I know every time I do it I will become stronger, mentally and physically.

I will always, of course, have a healthy respect for it. How can I not?

But I’m making a choice to not be intimidated of it. How? I will keep intentionally seeking it out until it begins to feel totally natural to me.

Pushing down fears, taking them head on and not being intimidated with hard things in life builds and strengthens us in ways we can never imagine.

What mountains are in your life that intimidate you or leave you feeling fearful?  There’s only one way to overcome it and that’s by facing it and pushing until you have put it under your feet.

Don’t let those things keep you from the potential that lies in you.

Passion, Gold, And Goals

olympic medal

 

So the Men’s Olympic swimming is over. I now have no life. Seriously.  Please tell me I wasn’t the only one hyped up over the incredible energy they delivered? Or the fact that Michael Phelps was this amazing, beautiful machine to watch in the water. Or that I wasn’t the only one who cried watching his “final” swim ( say it isn’t so)

And let’s just pause a minute and give thanks to the camera crews for giving us such good…coverage…. of the men’s swim team.  Really, thank you.  😉

Ah, but there have been other exciting things.

This weekend has been track and field and I actually got to see the women’s marathon this morning. I was impressed when the first 5k was knocked out in about 17 minutes. Yikes. Of course, I was hopeful for our girls from the US (they placed a respectable 6th and 7th out of a field of 160’s I believe) I’m always in awe that they run a marathon ( 26.2 miles) in a little over the time it takes me to run a half marathon. I can’t imagine running those speeds for that long.

Then there was the sprinting, Usian Bolt. The man is like a human explosive.

Sprinting. Short. Sweet. Powerful.

And it doesn’t take much time to view 😉

Of course, I must mention the gymnastics. USA women totally crushed it. I am always in awe at these tiny dynamos that can throw their bodies around and do these crazy and complex moves.

I don’t see my 6’0 body doing stuff like that haha

Every athlete at the Olympics was there because they had a passion, and they pursued it, and they became the best student of what they were doing. They invested countless hours,  sacrifice and dedication to their sport.

We can learn from them.

I found this quote from Michael Phelps that resonated with me :

“I found something I love and never gave up.”

We don’t have to wonder how that worked for him. 28 Olympic medals. Most decorated Olympian ever.

Nope, he never gave up.

The majority of us will never be Olympians. We will never come close to knowing the hard work and sacrifice that they invested into their sport.

But I’ll tell you this…. we can all have or find that thing we love and never give up in our pursuit of being better at it. We can become stronger, more skilled,  and a better student of that thing that we pursue.

For me right now, it’s cycling. I’m learning I have a lot of strength and power to bring to this sport and it’s now a matter of practice and consistent training to improve my skills. I know I won’t train for the Olympics, but trust me, I will be in races at some point to cut my teeth on and test my skills and passion. My nature is competitive and I will always be looking to improve and be better than I was the day before.

Tell me … what is your passion? Do you have something that challenges you ? Or motivates you to work harder? What’s the “gold” you pursue?

Sacrifice And Success

success and sacrifice

If there are things in life that I find enjoyable ( besides athletic adventures) is coffee and good conversation.

Topics and ideas can abound.  I love creative convos as much as I love the deep intellectual or just plain fun ones.

I love the opportunity to be challenged and encouraged by others. Because it’s others who often see things that I don’t, or see my capabilities when I feel weak or inadequate.

Thus went one conversation the other day with a friend. I have been following her new job interests and was asking her some questions about it. We talked about the timing and time frame of schooling and actually beginning to work the “real” job in a full time manner.

Her take was…. if you’re on the path to where you’re going…. you’ll get there. Basically, just keep doing things that are moving you to your goals/job/dream.

Interesting thought. She knows how much I enjoy being able to help, encourage, motivate and challenge people in the ways of health and fitness.

I shared with her some of my struggles in the process and how in wanting to help people there was one thing I couldn’t deliver, which was to do to the work for them.

Which led to an interesting discussion of the work that’s involved to get anywhere or accomplish anything, whether it’s getting a new job, a degree, losing weight or wanting to train for something.

There is a level of determination that has to be there to make changes, to accomplish new things, to be unwilling to stay where you are.  No one can place that determination in you, it has to be driven from the depths of who you are.

That determination will drive and lead us to success. It’s almost a birth process we have to go through to achieve what we’re after. If someone did it for us we’d miss out on so much of the journey that would shape us  for where we are going.

The journey could be hard. It could make us want to quit, throw in the towel, not push on, but it’s so rewarding when we reach our goals or dreams.

I mentioned that the reason I share and take progress photos is because people who are new to me, or don’t know me, often think I’ve lived in the fitness world and always look like I’ve looked.

When I pull out photos that show me soft and “fluffy” with no muscles that are visible compared to where I am now they can see a journey of progress. Of determination. Of an unwillingness to quit. Of constant, small, daily changes, building new habits and disciplines to get to where I am today.

She assured me this was important for people to see and understand… that they understood it had been a work for me to get where I was at… that it wasn’t something I had always done or simply been “blessed” with.

8 years.

I’ve set goals, hit them, redefined them, crushed them again and kept moving forward. As I’ve gotten stronger on my journey I’ve been able to do more which has led to bigger visions of what I’m capable of.

I think that’s pretty applicable to whatever you have your sights set on.  There has to be a constant assessing and redirecting to get to where you’re going.

But do you want it bad enough to really push for it ? Are you willing to invest the time and energy?

The word we both used  almost at the same time was this: sacrifice.

Anything worth having involves sacrifice. If you’re on a journey to lose weight or get more fit, it will involve a sacrifice of learning to adjust your eating, learning to train yourself to get up and exercise, learning how to make better choices in your lifestyle.

It isn’t easy. It can often feel hard and be daunting.

The road to success in life, whatever, it is, won’t be easy. And maybe in some ways it shouldn’t be.

We often learn so much about ourselves on the journey, through the struggles, through the disapointments and up’s and down’s of what we are pursuing.

We find our strength, we learn our weaknesses. If we’re stubborn and determined we persevere through it and keep our eyes on the prize.

No matter where you are, or what you seek, don’t give up or quit. Small steps towards your goal will ultimately get you to where you are going.

As our conversation wrapped up I was left with these thoughts in my head about achieving success and nailing goals.

Steps to Success….

  • A path. This is the “thing” you want to do.
  • The process. What does it take to get to your “thing”?
  • Determination. ( no excuses)
  • Focus. (single minded)
  • Sacrifice. (This is the biggest. It won’t be easy. You will have to be uncomfortable. Give up things. Make different choices)
  • Achieve goals. ( the sweetness of victory!)

What steps or process have you used to reach your goals ? When you reached your goal did you feel what you invested to get there was worth it?