What Got You Here Won't Get You There
Have you ever committed to something far into the future and then panicked as the real work set in and the day approached?
In May, I signed up for a September triathlon with visions of great summer workouts--long bike rides, cool swims on hot days, a little running at sunset and a fit, lean body to end the season.
I’ve done triathlons before. In the first one, the goal was just to not die, or as my friend, Kathleen said, to stop and talk to every cute safety kayaker on the swim. Once I was on the bike leg and realizing that I had a little speed there, the goal was to never be passed on that course. Some years, my goal has been to mark a birthday, and put something scary on the calendar so that I was compelled to make time for a workout most days a week, even when my job and family consumed much of it. This year, I decided to go bigger, a longer tri and more intense training plan, to hopefully, be more competitive and to delve deeper into the science of endurance training.
In the final week before the pre-race taper, I was looking at a few 2-3 hour training sessions, and cool mornings that make swimming less appealing. Have you ever noticed how much you can get done when you don’t want to be doing the thing you should be? I can clean the car, make a great dinner, do the laundry…
This is where the brain gets in the way of our success. The amygdala, or primal portion of our brain, likes the status quo, and will do anything it can to keep us in the comfortable middle. It doesn’t like us to deviate to far from center. Don’t get too happy, or too sad. Don’t be too successful or to close to failure. The trouble is that this limiter of the status quo keeps us stuck. The actions and habits that got me through my first tri won’t make me competitive for this one. The hardest part of training for this tri has been recognizing where my own brain is sabotaging my progress and then managing its impact the best that I can.
“I.am.strong. I.am.fast.” Is the chant I repeat as I slog through the first third of my swim on the days I don’t want to do it. It’s the perfect rhythm for my stroke. And, so far, sometime in the middle, I start to feel strong and a little faster and am always glad that I showed up.
If this resonates with you, delve deeper with these books on the topic of managing your brain and the thoughts that keep you stuck and play in your mind at 3 a.m., Positive Intelligence by Shirzad Chamine, and Taming your Gremlin by Rick Carson.
What got me here, while necessary and wonderful, won’t get me “there”, across the finish line in less time, and to that new, amazing place that I am daring myself to go.
When you’re ready to elevate your own fitness, do something to make the goal tangible—a written training plan, a coach, a trainer, and perhaps most helpful, a curiosity for the places your brain tries to send you when you think about your big goal.
Where will you go? You've got this, and so do I.