Tuesday, December 21, 2010

P.T.=Personal Time, balancing the holidays with your training, another Q&A Session with Mental Skills Coach Carrie Cheadle!

As usual, I always feel like Carrie is speaking right to me.....but I know I'm not alone. I hope you find this Q&A session helpful for these remaining holidays! Oh! And Happy Winter Solstice :-)

Question Posed by Myself:
The holiday season is in full swing and I think a situation arises for a lot of us who are a little more than say, recreational cyclists, where we are knee deep into our base training for the 2011 season and the parties and associated beverage and food associated with this time of year are at inherent odds. How do we have a healthy balance of staying dedicated to our training while dealing with outside influences? To begin with, there are the bottomless jars of candy at our office/day jobs, the multitude of holiday party invites (and they're inevitable late hours) where there is almost assuredly going to be tables full of (let's just admit it) incredibly delicious, but also carbohydrate and fat filled goodies and beverages also full of sugar (and for some of us) alcohol. That's only the start! If 'you' have family and friends that you are close to and wish to spend some time with, more often than not, there is a lot of the time spent (taken away from your training naturally) packing, driving, airport sitting and then all activities with friends and family. Before you know it, you're packing a few extra pounds, jet-lagged and have probably lost some of that hard earned fitness.

Answer given by Carrie:
Ahh… the holidays. For some it brings warm cozy evenings of tree trimming and cider sipping and for others it just brings potential obstacles to our athletic goals. Athletes that are trying to stay on task with their nutrition and training goals might be tempted to say “no thanks” to every invite and hide out in the house until the holidays have passed. We tend to make the holidays a stressful time when they don’t have to be. You are more likely to get sick when you are stressed so the best thing you can do is to relax about the holidays. You don’t have to say “yes” to every invitation you get and you don’t have to say “no” to every dessert that passes your way. You can get through the holidays both enjoying yourself and not completely derailing your goals.

Whether it’s at the office or at a family gathering, it can be hard to say no to all of the delicious temptations set out in front of you. Even though it seems to keep showing up at the grocery store earlier each year, there are only two weeks out of the year that Egg Nog is allowed in my house. If it’s in my house, I will drink it. But we can’t hide from every temptation.

Before you hit the parties – remind yourself of what your ultimate goal is for that upcoming season. Recite your goal as you are leaving for your destination and again as you arrive. Then each time you are faced with chocolate rimmed martini glasses and trays of decadent appetizers you can ask yourself “Does this immediate action help me get closer to my goal?” When we see goodies that we don’t normally get to eat, our pleasure centers start lighting up and we want that immediate reward. Don’t grab anything right away. Make a deliberate decision about what you want to eat. Think about the proportions of what you eat on a regular day and try to stick close to that.

You can also bring your own healthy contribution so you know that there will be at least one thing there that will not exceed your daily fat and carb intake in just one serving. Chances are there will be other people that are grateful you brought something healthy too!

Set a goal for how many rides and workouts you want to get in while you are traveling. Don’t fall into the “all or nothing” trap - “I have to get ALL of my planned rides in or I am a total failure and I have ruined my entire season!!” Not true. Fill in the numbers; “It would be awesome if I could get in ____ rides, but I would feel pretty good if I got in at least ____.” Make it a goal to get all of the workout clothes that you packed into the dirty clothes bag before you leave.

The fact is that if you want to perform at a certain level, there is sacrifice involved. There is a difference between being motivated to accomplish your goals and being committed to accomplishing them. As an elite cyclist, being committed to your sport means that there will be times when you will be the only person not drinking and you will be the first to leave the party. That being said, I am also a big advocate for having some balance and enjoying the holidays. You are not going to ruin your season if you skip one training ride to hang out with family and friends or have a slice of pie and a glass of wine at the office party. Everything in moderation – including how much pressure you put on yourself!

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!


KC said...

Hi Heather and Carrie :) This is the first mental skills & A that I have read, and I really like it!! I am going to read the old ones and I hope you do more. My cycling/training world intersects with my family for three weeks during the holiday season (I am an undergrad). Sometimes I feel like nutcase when my sister finds me on rollers for 2hrs in the garage when it is pouring rain and she tells me I'm the wierdest person she knows. But other than that my parents are health freaks so it takes a hunt to find choclate in our house even during the holidays.

Heather Nielson said...

So glad you like it 'KC'! Keep commin' back for more :-)