Thursday, May 21, 2015

A few things I learned along the way

Today I was thinking about how much things can change in just a short while. I was reflecting back on where I was a few years ago and I realized I never could have predicted where I would be today!

June of 2012 was when I raced my first half-ironman in the "PRO" category, so just about 3 years ago. I only realize now how naive I was about so many things. So...what are some of the things that I have learned? Well, here are 3:

1. It takes time to get good. I had lofty goals for my professional career...each year I had a goal I hoped to achieve. Then, after 5 years (in 2017), I wanted to retire having come top 5 at Kona. Hah! Well, I think it's great to have goals - but those goals have to be realistic or one of two things will happen - you will get injured OR you will get disappointed and quit early.

The former happened to me. I achieved all the goals I hoped to in 2012. So, I was on to what I wanted to accomplish in 2013...qualify for IM70.3 Worlds was the big one, hold 195W in a half-ironman bike and a few others. I would say I accomplished 90% of my goals. But in order to accomplish these goals I had to ramp up my training quite quickly (especially the running) and I got injured. In hindsight, I am not surprised. Perhaps life's way of telling me to slow down? A lesson that I should have taken more time to build a base for my training. That I should have spread out the timeline of when I hoped to achieve my goals.

So, I am using this experience to look towards the future...I have goals, but they aren't rushed. And there really isn't a timeline. When I accomplish the first one, I will then set the timeline for the second. For example, my goal for 2015 is to run consistently (without taking any unplanned rest days). If I can do that, then I will aim to complete a half-ironman and then I will set the next goal.

2. You have to learn to embrace change. No matter how well you plan or try to control things nothing is really in your control. Everyday things change. You deal with change due to injury, your personal life, work, family, friends, etc.

The prospect of change doesn't mean that you just have to go day to day without any organization to your life! I think that you should still go about your life, preparing and planning for the future the best that you can. But when something unexpected comes up, you can't let it derail you completely, you just have to try to "calmly" make adjustments given the new situation. There will be days when everything goes wrong, but there are days when everything goes right and days that are a mixed bag of things. So, in my Mamma's words, "you just have to always remember that everything happens for a reason". I'm still not great at this, but I am much better.

3. A "growth mindset" will bring you happiness and a "fixed mindset" will bring you unhappiness. Adam leant me a book awhile back, and I can't remember the name or the author, but it spoke about mindset and the importance of having a growth mindset - or the idea that you CAN change (a fixed mindset is one where you have the idea that you can't change). I never really tried to adopt this growth mindset before, but in the past couple of years I have needed to, and it has made quite a difference. And not just in triathlon (while facing injury), but in life too!

So, when you face challenges (e.g.: a race), obstacles (e.g.: a flat tire during a race), hard effort (e.g.: a hard workout), criticism (e.g.: your nutrition during the race is poor) and/or the success of others (e.g.: your teammate beats you) your mindset can dictate your happiness. A few examples of what I mean: If you view a race as an opportunity to do well then you will be happier than if you view it as a painful experience. If you view criticism as an opportunity to learn then you will be happier than if you view it as someone being mean to you. If getting beat by a teammate can instil motivation versus jealousy than you will be happier. Get my point? Growth mindset = happiness!

Thanks for reading!