Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Letter and Some Facts

I wrote this note to DW then elected not to send it.

This may seem kind of whiny but it's been burning a hole in my skull.  I feel like right now my body is really resisting the changes I am trying make.  I think this is probably pretty accurate.  Up until now I have either worked or trained, never both at full volume.  I always trained some while working but I never attempted to do any kind of volume other than a successful strength training program when I was working with Charles.  It is really exposing the (considerable and numerous) holes and weakness in my body and in my program (or lack of program).  I also seem to be getting more of those moments where things are going right.  (In horses, we call that flashes of brilliance.  At least in horses, it is a window into the future and green horses often go through rough patches in the early stages of training.)  I am kind of walking a line between feeling like I have too much baggage and this is totally hopeless, and feeling like I am about to turn a corner with this and see some real progress.  There are times when I see the effects of some of the changes I have made already and I can see what a handicap I have given myself up until now, but there is a lot of time when I kind of zero in on that word "handicap" (and others.. like old, fat, and slow).  

There are a lot of ways I have learned to abuse myself and I am quite sure that we will be finding many more issues that require some lifestyle or program change.  There is an attitude in horses that humans are expendable and the welfare of the horse is paramount.  People work sick, broken, day, night, 365 days a year in conditions that the average person would find deplorable.  It is considered weak to take time to care for yourself.  I labored for years in a job where I worked 7 days, got three hours sleep a night, and taking a day off would mean I was fired.  It literally freaks me out and I get a fair amount of ridicule from my peers for doing simple things like taking meal breaks or making time for sleep.  That is not to say I am not doing it.  Rather, I am all in, but this is really unfamiliar territory for me.  I guess I have no paradigm from which to determine how much effect these changes will have in the long run.  I have no sense of whether or not this will work.  I get so overwhelmed by how much damage I have done and sometimes it seems really hopeless to even try.  Problem is, I want this so bad I can't stand it so I've got my jaw set and I have no intention of giving up unless forced.  But, I don't know how to do this.  (I realize that is why I hired help on the project.)

I am prepared to make a lot of sacrifices to get what I want.  (I am even willing to not be right about everything.) While some days it seems completely logical, there are days that it seems utterly ludicrous and others where it is completely terrifying.  

Forgive this.. it is basically a dose of the week 6 blues(World Hunter Rider week causes a lot of anxiety), but I really wanted to have a week where I reported in with no complications.  I didn't pull that off that last week.  

"Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person."  -Albert Einstein

For some reason, I have been reluctant to discuss this confidence crisis I have been in lately with him.  I suspect he would dispel it immediately in about two sentences but poor confidence being what it is, I am afraid he'll decide I am too high maintenance and dump me as a client.  Plus, there is something else.  I feel like I need to do this on my own.  

When you are training or racing (or living through the hard times), you have to draw your strength from within.  You can get insight or support from others but really the battleground is inside.  I keep thinking about a post that Cort The Sport which talked about slaying your dragons.  I also recently read an article about the effect of the internal dialogue on your training.  I thought it was particularly appropriate for me since my internal dialogue is incredibly self-deprecating, right down to the name of the page.  I know I am limited so I use humor and sarcasm to shield myself.  It is okay to be the fat kid running if you are funny about it.  Anything more genuine leaves you incredibly vulnerable.  

The other issue at hand is the fact that I have a very weak support system.  Everyone falls down sometimes and they have to pick themselves back up.  Being in very unfamiliar territory, I fall down a lot and find myself wondering if I should be doing this at all.  The uncomfortable comfort zone is to not change my body, not change my mind, not change my life.  It is easier.  Easier is not better, only easier.  But I am going to have to do it alone.  I don't have people in my life to act as pit crew, cheerleaders, or even just a shoulder to cry on.  I run my races alone.  There is no one at the finish line.  When I come home from a long trip, I come home to an empty house covered in dust.  (Thank heavens my dogs travel with me or I'd be insane.)  My job, my travel, my training, it is all very solitary.  It is just a fact, one that I can either deal with or get upset about, but for the moment there is only so much I can do about it.  

I have been reaching out lately to people to try to get the affirmations I am craving.  Affirmation that I am good enough, that I can do this, that I have not totally lost my mind.  It is interesting how many people think that the right answer is to encourage you to give up the sport.  Yes, the sport causes a degree of suffering which is why people focus on it.  Lose the sport, lose the suffering.  Well meaning people seem to feel like derailing you from athletic goals is the kindest thing they can do.  Perhaps they don't really believe in your ability to accomplish them and they don't want to see you hurt.  However, what you really need is for someone to fan the flames a little.  Life without challenge and passion is a thin, dry, papery existence that holds no appeal for me.  At this point, my passion for training is providing me with purpose and adding dimension to my life.  Since I don't appear to have anyone that fully understands this (and if one more person gives me permission to quit, I'll start screaming), I'd better start blowing on coals myself.  

Fact 1:  I do not exhibit much talent right now.  

Fact 2:  I love what I do.  

Fact 3:  If I work hard, identify the limiting factors and target them directly, I will see some measure of success.  There is no way of knowing your limitations until you reach them.

Fact 4:  I was waaaay more hopeless than this when I started in the martial arts and I ended up being undefeated for several years.  

Fact 5:  According to DW, stubborn is a good thing and I have stubbornness in spades.  

Fact 6:  No one else needs to get it or care.

Fact 7:  I have a right to be here, to do this, to love this, to want this... even when I am not completely sure what "this" is.

Fact 8:  If I don't find enough strength to reach a goal, then I simply won't reach a goal.  The world is not interested is seeing you rise to a challenge.  It is interested in seeing you conform to a norm.  Anything more makes people itch.

Fact 9:  Even with all of the mental turbulence, I have gone out every day and done my job.  I have completed my workouts and I have improved, however slowly, and improvement is not always a linear concept.  Sometimes is a winding path with set-back balanced by exponential leaps forward.  Other times, it is climbing a mountain or knocking a golf ball out of a sand trap.

Fact 10:  It is time for today's workout.

Thanks for listening.


  1. I didn't realize until your recent post what your job is! As a former (recovering?) horse show gal, I am INCREDIBLY impressed by your braiding skill. I don't think people can appreciate the art to what you do.

    You seem to put an incredible amount of pressure on yourself. What if you were to reframe things for right now and say your primary goals for triathlon are to (1) enjoy (2) explore and (3) gain as much experience and knowledge as you can right now. THEN when life settles and the planets align, THEN you "go in for the kill" and make your mark on the sport. Fly under the radar for a while and let people underestimate you and then WHAM one day it'll be your turn? (hint: it's easier as you get older, LOL!)

    My coach says there is a time to be a compulsive triathlete, a thinking triathlete, and a let-it-flow triathlete. Make sure you spend enough time in the let-it-flow department!!

    1. Thank you. I am a compulsive perfectionist and my job kind of reflects that fact. I have to admit I don't do let-it-flow very well. I like your stalk-the-kill type advice. It plays well into my personality.

      This post was largely spawned by the fact that due to my life style and recent move, I have almost no support network. I have had a really bumpy, troubled year and a half physically (and the last ten weeks have been particularly frustrating) and sometimes think I have lost my mind (something I think often). Still, when I turned to some friends for support, their suggestions were to quit. NOT what I wanted to hear. I guess anytime you try to take anything beyond casual dabbling, the road gets really lonely really fast. The number of people who "get it" drops quickly. That brings me quickly back to the reason I blog.. to expand my network of like-minded people. Thanks for the advice. :)