Are you too focused on what others think?

Endurance athletes are a different breed.  Constantly we are focused on how to improve our times, how to improve our speed, how to be the best. Most of us are weekend warriors, we sit behind a desk from 8-5 squeeze in our training where we can. Most of us are not competing at the elite level and never will be, most of us will never win an age group podium or a podium in general.  We start out thinking we are going to challenge ourselves, get in shape drop a few pounds so that we look and feel good. At some point we start achieving faster times, faster paces, longer distances and coming closer and closer to semi pro times.  At that point we start to  post every training session to a social app or community.  We become obsessed with running a sub whatever minute mile for X number of miles.  We want everyone to see our accomplishments, so much so that we won’t even post a bad run or ride to Social Media.  Even if we do the post is always with followed an excuse for our poor performance.  We even get jealous or spiteful of our friends who are closing in on our times or who seem to be able to compete at a seemingly super human level.  Is this starting to sound familiar? Does some of this behavior describe you? (It definitely describes me!)  If so you are probably more focused on what others think about your results than you are on your training.  Endurance racing is a very individual sport.

We all have different strengths, we all have different bodies with varying levels of fitness, we all have different mentalities.  The bottom line is we are not athletically created equal, our training is not equal, our routines are not equal.  I am personally guilty of all of the things I have previously mentioned.  I constantly chased the emptiness of competition only to be disappointed by my times, envious of my friends abilities, and constantly letting a bad performance or session define me.  Then the worst happened, my watch and heart rate monitor broke.  No longer could I track my distance, pace and heart rate.  Sure I could track pace and distance with my phone (which I did), but it was cumbersome.  So I started to run and ride “naked”. Meaning no watch, no GPS on my phone, no heart rate.  I even changed where I run so I could not figure out distance or time as easily.  I began leaving the familiar roads and trained in new places, I quit posting my results to social media like Facebook, Garmin Connect and Strava.  I quit caring about arbitrary results! What I discovered was I began this journey in the first place.  I have never trained with music so I began to really listen to  my body again, focused on my breathing, the sound of my feet striking the ground, noticing  how I felt versus what pace was I moving at.  I began to enjoy the experience, the sights and sounds around me.

There was beauty in  each season and every type of weather.  Being able to just soak it all in, it no longer became about a training session but a time of enjoyment and renewal for me.  A time to relieve stress, to think, solve problems and even how I decided to start this blog! I no longer cared what others thought of my results, I no longer felt a need for someone to say “Wow” or give me “Kudos”.  Since then I have greatly upgraded my broken watch and do spend  time training with it.  I do like to improve my times and I am a data junkie so I will never completely give it up.  Now I use my watch to just track changes in my fitness level, the data is for me and me alone.  Occasionally I still post some of my sessions to Social Media, yes even a few bad or tough ones! (I don’t want people to think I am dead or something!)  On my long training sessions I go “naked” and just enjoy being in the environment where I am.  I also discovered that I indeed became faster, better able to pace myself and a stronger athlete! I began to achieve many of my own goals! My challenge to all of you is try going without the GPS or the phone.  Leave the watch at home, forget the heart rate and all the stats! Go and enjoy remember why you started all this in the first place! Listen to your body, you will be so happy you did! There is nothing wrong with wanting to be better but make sure that you are doing it for the right reasons!

Get out there, have fun and succeed!

God Speed!