Tuesday, July 5, 2011

P.T.=Painful Transition

I know it's been awhile since I've worked with Carrie on doing another P.T. Q&A session and perhaps you'll forgive me as my life has taken a lot of abrupt changes personally and professionally. That being said however, because all these changes inevitably effected my training & racing, I thought it provided a perfect platform for another great topic!

Question posed by myself:
How do you keep from completely blowing off all your training, goals & racing when life outside the bike turns upside down? For instance, the stress of losing a job, moving twice in a year and venturing on new career paths can drain you in ways that make it really hard to even mentally face completing even a single work-out. That being said, realistically goals do need to be changed, but how does one go about adjusting those goals whilst feeling overwhelmed in the throws of all that uncertainty?

Answer given by Carrie:
If you find yourself in the position of wanting to blow off all of your training and racing goals, it usually means either A. you are overwhelmed, B. you need a break, or C. both! When you are in this place, you need to take a step back and regroup. It is very rare that we are able to create a perfect balance in our lives. The whole act of balancing means that sometimes certain aspects of your life will weigh more than others and it becomes necessary for the balance to shift. When this happens, it can be difficult not to go swinging on the “all-or-nothing” pendulum. One of the greatest mental skills you can have as an athlete is the ability to adjust your goals.

What was once a realistic goal may no longer be realistic given the new circumstances. Sometimes we are forced to adjust in order to keep moving forward. When you don’t adjust, you run the risk of stopping movement altogether. How quickly you are able to recognize that you need to adjust and then make the adjustment is a sign of your resilience; a sign of how “fit” you are mentally. When your sport is your true touchstone, you understand that things don’t always go as planned; that your sport is the anchor you come back to. When your sport is your touchstone, goals are adjusted instead of dropped, and if they are dropped, it is because that is what you need in that moment in order to take care of yourself as an athlete. You understand that one race, even one season, doesn’t define your whole career and that things may need to be sacrificed in order to keep working on the bigger picture. There is a famous quote by Francois de la Rochefoucauld that says, “The only thing constant in life is change”. Dealing with change and adjusting goals is an inevitable part of being an athlete. That kind of resilience is a great example of how you can be deliberate about working on your mental game. The most successful and consistent athletes are the ones that can adjust to the new set of circumstances in front of them instead of remaining stuck in how they wanted things to go and then dropping their goals altogether.

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!

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