It's 12.30 in the afternoon and I am sipping on a cup of coffee, ( a big no no) with a gazillion thoughts rolling through my head probably from the rush of caffeine and the brilliant article I have just read on the psychology of mental toughness.
I have concluded after reading the article that I am "Desperately seeking willpower..."
It seems I have emptied my willpower bucket .. Last year I was definitely running on empty but somehow I have not been able to replenish it over the course of the year. I have had moments where maybe a cup or two may have returned but every obstacle/stress I run into seems to diminish it again.
My problem: An empty bucket of willpower!
Lets first define willpower: A:The strength of will to carry out ones decisions, wishes or plans.
B: The ability to control oneself and determines ones actions
C: Firmness of will.
D: Self control
Other words to describe Will Power : drive, resolution,determination,firmness of purpose, will.
Ok so there you have it! Even my lack of blogging has stemmed from this lack of desire or motivation. Over the last year it seems I have been a little lost on all of the above. Most of you know me as a motivator and generally positive happy person so it was easier to be quiet on socail media when I was not feeling in top form.
Lets back track: It started with turning "40" as much as I believed it was only a number it hit me hard. I will be honest I am still waiting to embrace my 40's but accept it as I have no choice...
With 40 came exercise induced asthma. A harsh reality for a professional athlete ! It had snuck up on me training in the heat and humidity, but it hit me full force at IMLP last year where I was brought to a complete stop trying to catch my breathe which certainly creates fear. That day, while I struggled through 22 miles of the marathon portion with limited air supply, willing my body through every step I believe I sapped up a huge supply of my willpower bucket.
The next day I found out my dad had lung cancer and the reality of the road ahead and his fight dipped again into my bucket. I then did what I do...3 weeks after IMLP I decided 3 days before Ironman Mont Tremblant to drive the 10 hours up there and race for a cause...My DAD! Emotions were high and I drove, raced as hard as I could, drove the 10 hours back then the following day jumped on a plane that would take me over 36 hours to South Africa. My objective of my trip to South Africa was to show 100% strength and support as my mom and dad faced this huge life monster of a disease. For 2 weeks I barely slept and spent hours giving all I could mentally and emotionally to my family. My bucket was emptied on that trip but it was a trip I am so thankful to have made.
So with a empty bucket I decided it was best to end the season! Now normally a mid season or a 4 week Christmas break would often leave me hungry to get back to training. But with the polar vortex hitting the nation I found my motivation to get back to training was not there and with no races scheduled for 8 months I was in unfamiliar territory. The love of racing and competing have been my motivation my whole life. I have always been self motivated and loved a good challenge. I set goals and meet them..the harder the better. But at the beginning of winter I told Coach Jesse I had no desire to do long trainer rides or freezing cold rides either.
In order to race well and compete as a professional there are certain things you need to do and you need to do them daily and well. I was not willing to do them. Nothing went perfectly...sleep, nutrition, workouts were all less than stellar. I found that when these things don't go perfectly I put a huge amount of mental stress on my lack of achieving my daily goals and there were a few months of mental torture.
As the months ticked by and as suspected I arrived at camp in what I felt was my worst shape of my life. I did not beat myself up over it as it was Feb and my willpower as we all know was lacking therefore mentally I was struggling.
I managed to gain some motivation at camp surrounded by 30 amazing athletes and coaches all ready to get their seasons started. I secretly hoped it would rub off on me and it did. I came back with a new attitude and jumped back into training. But as the snow and cold temperatures remained and my attempts to find like minded people who were doing early season races failed I found myself struggling again. I had already decided that heading back to race an Ironman for the sake of racing was not going to happen and I called off my April Ironman. What if I couldn't will myself to finish...In 27 Ironman races it has only happened once due to severe back pain but never has my mind failed me. I have completed races in cold rainy conditions with hyperthermia and hot conditions with hypothermia. I have raced the windiest and hottest Kona conditions. The elements or physical tests have played a big part but my mind has always been the strongest tool I had. But how can I ask my body to finish something that its not prepared mentally and physically to do and do well.
I set a small test for myself instead of racing IM South Africa I headed down to Florida for the 70.3. It was a baby step in the right direction. My results were less than stellar and my fitness and speed were not there but it did leave me wanting more.
Self realization is a beautiful thing. Sometimes you can't quite pin point what your problem is but working your way to find a solution can be empowering. I have been waiting for the motivation to come...but sometimes you have to make it yourself.
I have a few races scheduled that have lit my fire and together with seeing everybody get back out on the road as the nicer weather returns is helping.
I am 8 weeks out of my first BIG race and I am going to put my head down and work to get my fitness back up again to where I can comfortably race head high and give it all I am capable of without my fitness being a limiter and without having any excuses. In order to achieve you need to have a goal and commit to it. So Challenge Atlantic City I am 100% committed to making you my comeback race!
So for any of you that might be suffering a little from an empty bucket of motivation/willpower/ enthusiasm just know you are not alone. It hits us all at some point its just finding your way back that can be the struggle. Sometimes you might have to redirect yourself and that is where I am at right now.
I need to set NEW goals for myself that will make me happy! I need to not compare what I am doing now to what I might have done 5 years ago! Life is always evolving and you have to roll with the punches. You need to keep challenging yourself in order to grow. Sometimes a break from a routine in stressful times is just what you need!
I appreciate my life, my beautiful family and all that I have to be grateful for. So I look forward to the new challenges that come my way!