News flash: Rocky lied to us. Achieving our goals isn’t as simple as 1) Have a goal 2) Musical montage 3) Oscar 4) Heavyweight Champion of the World. There’s a lot of hard work in between. And this process is what will determine the outcome far more than any one race or prize fight. I’ve been thinking about that a lot over the past few months, reflecting on a 2015 season that wasn’t as great as I had hoped, and struggling with multiple injuries early in 2016. Throughout this time, Coach Mary has been reminding me to focus on what I can control: completing workouts to the best of my current ability, sleeping enough, eating right, and doing the exercises prescribed by the team at Rose PT. I admit, at first, it felt like I was just going through the motions. Yay, a zone 1 spin. Again! An easy treadmill run. For 10 whole minutes! Waddling down the pool using totally different muscles that will not conspire to ruin my shoulders!
But as my mom always told me, fake it until you make it! (Oh hi, colleagues and swimmers I coach–ignore that bit; I totally know what I’m doing.) I definitely spent some time following the coach’s instructions and repeating her advice over and over in my head, hoping it was true. Over the past few weeks, however, it has gotten easier to not worry about outcomes, and trust the process. The watts will go up. The times will go down. Last night, I watched a speech from Michael Phelps’s coach that really hit home. He talks about how truly high achievers welcome challenges as a means to learn and grow, and have to work through many failures on their road to success. But they don’t see these failures as setbacks, but rather as feedback to steer them to the right course.
So what does that look like for me, right now? When I swim, rather than thinking about how far away I am from my goal paces, or how my arms seem to be flailing when I sprint, I try to get one thing right each 25. Maybe it’s a perfectly-timed turn, or a strong pull, or keeping my head aligned when I breathe. Once I get the hang of that one thing, I add another. On the bike, it’s noticing that my heart rate has come down about five beats per minute while pushing the same power numbers. On the run, it’s focusing on light feet; if I’m not going to be fast, I might as well be smooth. And this week, I’m focusing on recovery: to bed by 9:30, protein before bed, and foam rolling daily.
Which reminds me, I need to get on that now! Good night!