Friday, August 27, 2010

P.T. = Perspective Taking Q&A with Carrie Cheadle Time!

Suisun Criterium

I really liked Carrie's answer to my question below. She is absolutely right by the way, I didn't have clear cut goals and I did set unrealistic expectations for myself. I've accepted this year as a transition year; and maybe even transition year #1.

Question posed by myself:
"'We're in to the final part of the season and CalCup is in full swing. I've had a difficult season, for many reasons, and I have found that 'perspective' seems to be an important word for me right now. How does an athlete put things into perspective at the close of a race season when there seems to be so many reasons why things happened the way they did and how do you 'weigh' each of those reasons so that you can better judge what changes you need to make going forward? Some of the reasons were definitely in my control, such as training, coaching, and my mental attitude toward myself (I'm very hard on myself). However, circumstance played a part as well. For instance, it is my first year as a Cat 2 - and therefore, my first season racing at the full Elite level (Pro/1/2). Secondly, this is also my first year on a real 'team', whom I've been dedicated to working for. Thirdly, this part of the country lends itself to being the toughest district in the U.S. Keep in mind that I WANTED to be racing in this district FOR that reason, that's why I came out here! It's hard a lot of time, when you're in the middle of the race to put all of this into perspective and focus on the race itself. As a result, the end 'placing' of the race becomes harder to 'judge'."

Answer given by Carrie
When you have a season that didn’t go as well as you were hoping, how you end that season says a lot about who you are as an athlete. It’s difficult to hold onto the motivation to finish strong when you’re focused on how you wish things had gone differently. Additionally, it’s extremely difficult to be objective when you are enveloped by a results oriented culture.

Since it is your 1st season racing at the elite level, you are basically a freshman. Think back to your freshman year in high school. When you’re a freshman in high school you have some experience with school (racing), but you’re still navigating this new world and learning the ropes (Pro/1/2). You’re not supposed to be good at it yet. You’re still learning. Next year you’ll be sophomore with a little more experience and an understanding of what to expect, but even as a sophomore you will still be learning.

Here is some advice on how to keep perspective throughout the cycling season:

Be clear with your season goals and your race goals:
We gauge our success based on how we do relative to our goals. You need to be clear on what your goals are. If you haven’t set out these goals, you will create them as you go and then possibly hold yourself to unrealistic expectations. What I see happen with a lot of athletes is that they actually have a secret goal that they are gauging their success on. Their goal was to finish with the pack, but they were really hoping to be top 10, therefore it was not a successful race. If your goal for the race is to finish with the pack and you finish with the pack – you have had a successful race.

Dedicate time to evaluating your races:
Our perceptions create our reality. At the end of a race or the end of a season, we create a story about the events that occurred. You are the author of that story so you get to choose the slant – that is where perspective comes in. There is a time and place for reflection and in the middle of a race is not one of them! At the end of the race is really where our perception starts to influence our reality. That is the time to reflect and do so in a way that it positively or negatively affects your confidence and motivation going forward into the next race. The reflection is where the stories get created.

Don’t worry about the outcome of a race. If you keep your focus in the moment, on the things that are in your control and on setting yourself up to have the best possible race – the results will come. If you’re in the middle of a race and you’re wondering how this race will turn out and if it will be better or worse than the last time, your focus isn’t where it needs to be in order to have a good race. The race is like a conversation and if you’re up in your head worrying about the outcome, you’re not in the conversation. If you want to build on your performances and maintain perspective, commit to answering these four questions after every race:

Ÿ What did I do well?
Ÿ What could I have done better?
Ÿ What did I learn?
Ÿ What do I want to carry forward with me into the next race?

You also need to evaluate your entire season in the same way. What worked, what didn’t, what are my goals for next season, and how do I get there? The goals we set and our reflections will influence that story, therefore YOU influence the story. Two cyclists could have the same exact season and come out with two different stories. In one story the athlete is excited to continue on the journey and inspired to have an even better season than last year. In the other story, the athlete is dejected and frustrated and wondering if they should quite cycling altogether.

We often put expectations on ourselves and think that we should be performing better than we are. That often comes from comparing ourselves to others. Don’t worry about anyone else’s path. Everyone has their own path that gets them to their destination and all of those paths look different. You can’t control how anyone else gets to their destination you only have control over how you get to yours.'

Carrie is a Sport & Exercise Mental Skills Coach and consults with athletes and teams on mental skills training and peak performance. Click on the links to sign up for Carrie’s newsletter, follow her blog, or follow her Mental Skills Training for Athletes page on Facebook!


JJSnovel said...

Great post Heather. Thanks.

~ js

Holly Roberts said...

Carrie knows her sh*t. I LOVED working with her, and still use the techniques she taught me.