Monday, March 23, 2009

Breaking Barriers

This week was all about "making it count." It was the last week of this running block I've been on and whooo baby did I need all the mental strength I could muster. Thursday's tempo run was very hard, especially the last set of 10 minutes. I tuned out my pain and just got 'er done.

Then, Friday, I felt rather sprightly for my 1.5 hour steady run, and took off like my dog chasing a gopher.

Of course, that lasted the first 60 minutes...then it was back to digging deep, really deep for the last bit. HOLY MOLY was I pooped, but I kept thinking back to my coach's instructions to "Make it count." Saturday's ride just about fricking did me in -- main set was 5 sets of 10 min. at 1/2 Iron pace and I increased my watts every time. I was gritting my teeth by the end, knowing that I had a 30 minute STEADY run after that.

The grand finale was a 2 hour hilly run on Sunday followed by a bike afterward. Of course I went back to my snow-eating hill -- hee-hee!!

I was exhausted after all this -- actually I was exhausted for pretty much all of it.

But, the one big lesson I have been learning (and relearning) this year, is that physical pain and even fatigue can be pushed through. Whoopty-do, you might think. Well, it is a big whoopty-do for me. Continuing to bike as hard as I can even when my mind is screaming at me to stop, and my legs are locking in refusal; continuing to run even though every muscle below my waist feels like they are spasming (word? heh-heh!), and continuing to swim even though my arms are throbbing -- these are examples of the lesson I am talking about.

It all started with the Arizona camp -- I learned there that giving 100% one day did not automatically negate giving 100% the next day, or even the next. In fact, the body learns to adjust pretty quickly! AND the body gets even stronger. I've been re-defining what is a "hard" workout. And the more I think about it, the more I believe that there is no such thing as "hard." It's all relative, eh?

When I first started swimming, swimming half a lap was HARD. Having-to-stop-and-stand- in-the-pool-to-catch-my breath kind of hard. I would make sure my ribs were out of the water because the pressure of the water made it too difficult to breathe -- Hahahahahaha!! I am not joking!

Fast forward to today and I LOVE the water. I love attacking my swim workouts and getting them done even though my arms start off just as sore as when I'm finished. :)

So...what I'm trying to get at here is beyond learning a new a skill. It is about going beyond period. (I've always wanted to say "period" in a sentence. Double the emphasis, eh? LOL!) Consciously throwing out what you believe is too hard or too difficult. This is why I love triathlon so much --- it has shown me how limitations are self-imposed. I truly believe that we have all the answers we need within; it is just a matter of turning off the static and our ego to HEAR them.

Before I met my coach, I thought I knew what pushing myself was all about. I now know that I know NOTHING about it...yet!! LOL!! I know a bit more than last year, but I have many more barriers to bust through still. And most of them are mental. Physical pain is easy -- it hurts, it's sore, it's falling off (EEP!), etc. It's the mental stuff that is tricky: "It hurts so you better stop or you'll injure yourself," "It's sore, so you have really done it this time, why not take up chess instead?"

I learn so much about myself when my mind tries to make me slow down or stop. I'm learning how the mind is sometimes the enemy, and it is best to turn it off and let the body do what it knows. I'm learning that the mind has a myriad of tricks to help explain away and justify why it is better to slow down or stop. And, I am learning that the mind I've lived with for the past 33 years, is a mind that I don't know as well as I thought.


Keith said...

Wow, lots to think about in your blog today.

There's a very fine line between your body saying "I've had enough and would rather not, thank you very much" which means you're tired and can carry on, and then there's painful tired where you're body is hurting and really badly wants to stop, and then there is actually injured painful where unless there is a predator giving you the eye you're going to stop.

For some of us, the distance between the first and third isn't very big, and I'm such a wuss I'm likely to back off during the second situation.

Good for you for pushing through. Can't wait to run with you at the Police half. 'With' being a somewhat elastic term, of course. I'll be lucky if I'm close enough to feel the wind of your passage!

Julie said...

You might not feel the wind, but if you take me out for Indian food again, you'll definitely smell it...

Right, Susi? ;)

Kelly B. said...

Feel the wind? OR smell it?
OH C'mon!! I wasn't the only one thinking that!!!!

Good job Julie! You are dead on...the mind is a powerful's up to you how you use it.

Kelly B. said...

...oops...I didn't read Julie's comment correctly and she already used the "smell it" joke...!!

Jenna said...

way to go julie....barriers are self imposed so blow them apart!

John Prince said...

I truly believe that we have all the answers we need within; it is just a matter of turning off the static and our ego to HEAR them.
Very Good! You are wise beyond your years.

Amy said...

I agree w/ Keith, a lot to think about in your post. All good, of course.

I am going to use this new mantra of yours tonight on my 8 miler.

Thanks for the inspiration!