“CHAMPIONS WRITE THEIR OWN STORIES AND PROCEED TO DO ALL THOSE THINGS THAT MAKE THOSE STORIES COME TRUE.” (from "The Way of the Champion", Jerry Lunch, Ph.D)
I love this quote and love the interesting, difficult, life changing task of connecting our mental energies to best support our goals and dreams. Even the strongest among us have self doubts, fears and obstacles to overcome and I am amazed at how much mental training WORKS as well as makes the training and racing process meaningful.
I have known so many instances when athletes that I coach fear their workouts, have expectations of their training that lead to a feeling of not wanting to get the work done due to fear of not producing some number or personal standard that they feel they “should” be at. This is true for performance training, weight loss, race days, training choices…. as well as general LIFE. It makes a world of a difference if we allow self - damaging thoughts into our mental circulation, or if we catch them and learn to disregard and replace with self – affirmations/ our champion heart/ champion story.
I am not above this myself. I struggle. I am human, we all are, even when we KNOW these things, it is a process of work and mental discipline. Our discipline is not just in the physical efforts of training, but in the mental efforts and focus that we live day in and day out. I struggle in my training in various situations. I show up at the pool after a few months of focused swim training, still looking around and judging myself compared to other people, mentally telling myself to not get in that lane because those people look like “real swimmers.” Which reminds me of various stories I have told myself over 20 years of running and doing triathlons- that I don’t “look like a real runner,” only to see someone who has a body type similar to mine go on to either WIN or be top of the race! I am reminded over and over of the reality that I cannot put a limit on my potential because of what I perceive to be a correct body type, etc…but it is my tendency personally to feel inadequate, short and stumpy arriving at packet pickup next to those who I feel have long, lean, defined endurance bodies! I know I am not alone, and it is this thought pattern that limits us, this self- written story that is based on fears and doubts.
How much are we selling ourselves short in life? Sometimes it is good to be asked this hard question. Do you sell yourself short in how you train? When I create training programs (and my own training program)—I not only look to where the athlete is NOW, but… where do you want to be? What pace is your bucket list pace? I began running at 9-10 min pace and couldn’t go faster than that. I have run Annapolis 10 Miler now- a known hilly and hellaciously hot/humid race in 6:50’s average. I wasn’t sure if that would ever be possible for me (since I’m “not a runner” sometimes in my mind?!!). My paces didn’t start dropping significantly until I realized for my own training plan to create workouts to train me to the level I WANTED to be at.. not always WHERE I WAS. Granted, you cannot just will yourself there mentally, but you can allow that far off place to be attainable by aiming high, by pushing yourself at times to failure… which doesn’t FEEL GOOD! But it takes going PAST THE LINE OF WHAT WE CAN DO… in order to become what we are maybe not right now… In every training program I write, I ask myself: what are the workouts that I/the particular athlete either 1. Thinks they cannot do, or 2. When they have these completed, they will KNOW that they can rock this race. When we begin our training seasons- let’s ASK BIG THINGS FROM OURSELVES! LET’S WRITE OUR CHAMPION STORY, LET’S THINK LIKE A CHAMPION, IMAGINE OURSELVES AS A CHAMPION, TRAIN LIKE A CHAMPION, LIVE THE CHAMPION LIFESTYLE FULLY.