This got me thinking about how often my frame of mind can either support me, or in the case of this week, make me completely doubt myself. It's really all in my mind. But how can I push my mind in the right direction? How can I make sure that my mind and body are working together to help me be the best me?
To begin with, I think I need to look at how I can go from having confidence one week and being full of self-doubt the next. I believe a variety of factors came to play.
First, I can be a bit of a perfectionist--I guess this is probably no surprise to those I work with (no revealing my obsessive editing of presentations Tammy and Sue). I also think this need to be perfect is what drove me to eating disorders in my teenage years and beyond. Another "wonderful" quality I have is that I am extremely competitive. My husband likes to say that when we play games with friends I can't be on his team, and I also can't be on the other team--either way I end up yelling at him for something. It is this combination of perfectionism and competitive nature that I feel was a huge factor in my melt down this week.
Also, to give you a little more background, most of the people I run with are faster than me--this is just a fact. But the cool thing is, they slow down a little for me and I push myself a little to make running with me worth their effort to get up so early for our pre-dawn runs. Lately, however, I have been feeling like I have been holding them back. The more I pushed myself, the more it seemed I could not keep up. I felt like I was needing walk breaks even on short runs, that I was losing energy, and I just generally felt sluggish. It is not that I am competitive with my running friends--I am competitive with myself. I hate when I feel I am not running up to my potential, and I really felt like something was holding me back.
Thank goodness I keep a log of all my runs including the distance and my minute/mile times. As I looked back over the last two and one-half years, my times have continued to improve. In addition, my best mile time ever was just under 27:00...but on a completely flat route. Most of the running I do now either includes hills or contains a lot of off-road terrain. So actually it was all in my mind--I completely lost my confidence over something that was not even based in reality.
And the bad thing about letting my mind think negative thoughts is that it often spirals into other negative thinking. If I'm feeling bad about myself, it is harder for me to get up early in the morning to exercise, I eat bad food obsessively, and I just stress over what I need to do to make improvements. Should I eat more carbs? Should I get more hours of sleep? Should I take more rest days in between exercise days? Should I include more speed work? And the problem is that that this thinking just goes on and on. My mind sends me spiraling in the wrong direction.
Now that I have revealed how crazy my mind makes me sometimes, I hope you will see how this kind of thinking is not productive and is very often not based in fact. But how can I get my mind to work with me instead of against me? What worked for me this time was talking it out with a friend--she allowed me to vent and then reminded me not only of the amount of training time I still had, but that I would have her to support me. As I have stated many times in previous blogs, if you surround yourself with amazing friends they will help you to realize your true potential. Also, keep a log of your progress. Because I was able to go back and look specifically at my training runs, I could instantly see that my mind was playing tricks on me once again. With the resource of my friend Karrie and the meticulous logging of my exercise, what could have been a long downward spiral was a two-day blimp on my more than year-long journey to Ironman.
Believe in your dreams and they may come true. Believe in yourself and they will.---Unknown