5/27/15

Overcome your feelings - training motivation


On Monday morning, I joined a master swim group for an open water swim at Lake Jocassee (Devil's Fork State Park). I was super excited for my first open water swim practice of the season here in Greenville and excited to swim/train with others. Because the lake is about 1 hour away from where we live, I decided to make a morning out of the swim and combine it with an EZ 30-45 min run that I had on my training schedule. 
Karel stayed at home since he just returned from 4 days of RETUL fits in Jacksonville. 

I packed plenty of fluids and snacks and had my run gear, Nathan hydration belt and had everything I needed for two great workouts. I was super excited and had all the motivation I needed to have a great morning swim/run. 

I swam pretty hard for our 1-hour swim (out and back) as I was trying to keep up with three other super fast master swimmers. After the swim, I was really cold (we didn't wear wetsuits and the water was a bit nippy) and was tired from the swim (although it was a beautiful swim!) 

As I was walking back to my car, I was thinking that maybe I would just head home and run in the evening. Despite starting the morning with great intentions, having all my gear and being nutritionally prepared, I let a temporary feeling of being tired derail me from my plan. 

I know sometimes we can just push through discomfort and get it done but I was perfectly content with not sticking to my plan and I didn't feel guilty. 

But then as I was walking, I saw two other male triathletes who had joined us for the swim (they swam 40 minutes)and they were running. And just like that, I convinced myself that I should just go for the run that I had planned to do. 

And as I should have guessed - I had a great run, with good form (despite running on hilly terrain) and really enjoyed running on new roads, in a new environment. I was running happy for 6 miles!

I was so happy that I ran after my swim and both workouts served their purpose as I felt recovered and fresh to train on Tuesday. 

This morning, Karel and I went for an hour spin and he took me on a great bike tour of some new country roads (we are always exploring!). I was a little tired before the bike and started to doubt myself if I had it in me for today's morning workout. 
But with so much nature around us, it was a great ride to wake-up my legs before our track run. 

But after the ride, I started to feel tired. Again, another feeling that I was letting convince me that I didn't have it in me to run. Tired doesn't mean that I can't have great workouts. Heck, I'm tired after I swim 2.4 miles and bike 112 miles but I still find a way to run 26.2 miles to finish an Ironman! 

I had my nutrition ready for the run and all my gear in the garage ready for a quick transition and I fueled well on the bike in anticipation for the track run.

With Karel by my side, we ran up our hill and headed 3 miles to Furman University and then started our track workout.

MS: 5 x .75 miles (or 5 minutes for Karel) w/ 3 min recovery in between (with #4-5 being the strongest).

Then a run home
Total: 10.3 miles 

As the run progressed, I felt stronger and stronger. I made sure to bring extra nutrition for the track run and boy oh boy did I need it! 

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Every athlete battles feelings. 
Feelings of low motivation, low energy, low passion. 
We also have opportunities when we can bottle up our positive feelings. Feelings of being unstoppable, feelings of strength, durability and great health. 

Amazingly, regardless of how we feel, we have the ability to get things done, even when we feel like things can't get done. 

As athletes, we have a lot that we can do to set ourselves up for great workouts:
-Great nutrition before/during/after workouts
-Great daily nutrition
-Great warm-ups
-Great restful sleep
-Great motivation (goals in mind)
-Great support - family, friends, teammates
-Great stress management
-Great focus and consistency in your training plan (and a well-designed training plan)
-Great planning
-Great pacing
-Great ability to not make excuses

But let's be honest here - that's a lot to just have a great workout! 

To help you overcome your feelings and to help you stay motivated, my suggestion is to focus on setting yourself up for great workouts with things within your control (attitude, gear, nutrition, sleep, etc.). Then when you get to your workout, focus on what you want to get out of your workout. One of the easiest ways to have a bad workout is to put too much pressure on yourself on how you expect to perform during the workout. You can't expect your body to be "on" every single workout. 

As you can see from my last few workouts, in my head, I felt like I was not going to have good workouts and I was settling with my feelings. 

Well, you don't get much done when you do nothing. 

As athletes, we do this all the time in races ("how will my legs feel off the bike, how will I feel when I start the swim, how will I feel at mile 20?") and more often than we would like, we do this a lot in training. 

There will be times in your training when you feel great and you can have goals as to how hard you want to push in order to feel like you had a great workout. 

But many times, you are going to need to remove the emotions from the workout which can cause you to feel frustrated, disappointed and "slow" if your anticipated goals for the workout do not match your RPE or how you perform.
Through years of training and racing, if there is one powerful message that I have learned (and take with me to every training session and race), if your body is healthy, never ever count yourself out of a workout. Keep adjusting until you find a way to have the best workout possible - don't just "get through" the workout. 

Try to find a way to "feel" like you are having a great workout and more often than not, you will have a great workout!