I missed a mental monday this last week while I was on vacation. So I owe you one. I should be able to make it up in the next couple weeks. This week I want to discuss and reflect on knowing and buying into your purpose during races. I was struggeling a bit with this last week and I want to address it, hammer it out, and feel more confident about it in the future.
What makes the great triathletes successful is their ability to perform their best under the worst possible conditions against a formidable field in the most important race of their lives. - Jim Taylor & Terri Schneider in The Triathletes Guide to Mental Training
This last weekend I raced in the Jeremy Wright Snowshoe Championships and I wanted to have a stellar performance, better than I have been performing in past weeks. But where was I going to pull this from? This may have been the direction I had in my heart, because I am competative, but it wasn't the direction my coach had, and it wasn't the direction of my training. I was destined to be dissapointed, because my expectations were unrealistic.
Please read this post from Bree Wee's Blog. She struggeled in a similar situation and her coach has some great words.
I know that her coach is discussing the difference between amature and pro, but I think of it more as the difference between "ignorance of your purpose" and "strength and determination in your purpose". Does that make sense?
Another example: Steve and I were having a discussion about a certain individual that always finishes in front of me in snowshoe races. I keep getting close to her and was talking about what it would take to overcome her in a race. Steve said to me "I know her and I know she couldn't care less if you beat her". He explained to me how this person was a seasoned professional and knows that snowshoe season is about training and getting strong. This person knows that training has ebs and flows and that her real focus is triathlon, and that is where all of the training is taking her, to prime performances in important triathlons. It's funny how my attitude changed when I was told someone couldn't care less if I "beat" them in a race. Pretty darn humbling, that's for sure. But I get it too, if you are concerned with ever person around you in races, and you know all their names, and how good they are, you just put yourself in a box. It's hard to break out of boxes you put yourself in, and when you do break out of them you are "ALL PROUD OF YOURSELF". But really, if you hadn't put yourself in the box in the first place, and you just relied on your training, and your direction, and giving your best performance on that day, you won't ever be disappointed. I tend to get too obsessed with results, and placing...time to let that go.
So, this got me thinking about just how important it is to not only be aware of your purpose in early/pre-season races, but also to buy into that purpose and to remain controlled. This requires that you understand and trust your training program, that you have good communication with your coach, and that you buy into and agree with the direction of your training. It's also important to keep in mind that "It's your life". These are YOUR goals that you are going after, so as in my case if I wanted to do better in the snowshoe race, and was disapointed, then my coach and I probably don't have a clear understanding of where I want to head. Or, I may not have a clear understanding of the trade off's required to have strong snowshoe races. Either way, if you experience a disconnect between race desires and your training level to complete those desires, it should serve as a red flag.
So what to do from here? Well, I think this week I will focus on making sure I understand a little better where my training is taking me. Knowing what the focus is, what races I want to perform my best at, and how my training will build up to that. Since Steve puts my schedule together on the monthly basis, it keeps me from looking far ahead. I need to have a discussion with him about future races, and we need to be on the same page.
Once that happens, I need to do some mental work before each race about knowing my purpose, knowing my goals, and being properly prepared for the races I have been trained to complete.
So, tasks this week are to get a better understanding of where my training is taking me. And then, to put together part of my pre race routine that involves some preflection (opposite of reflection...also not a word) about my goal and purpose of that race.
I definitely don't see getting on the medal stand as something that's attainable. I see it as a lofty goal. What I'm trying to focus on is going out and competing against my fellow competitors, the racecourse, and myself. I'm going to give my best effort, and if it warrants a podium finish, that's what it warrants. - Andy Potts