On Mental Toughness
|July 20, 2012||Posted by Katy under Inner Musings, Summer 2012 Training, Triathlon, Triathlon Training|
Before I begin, I want to say that my thoughts and prayers are with all the victims of the Colorado shooting. It is impossible to understand what possesses a person to do an act like what happened. Make sure that you give all those you love an extra hug and tell them how much they mean to you.
I was always known for my mental toughness throughout middle and high school. I was the athlete that my coach could rely on during pivotal or stressful moments in a game or match to keep the rest of my team under control. It was rare for me to crack under the pressure; I would be completely focused on the task at hand and not break my concentration.
I prided myself on this mental toughness. I may not have been the absolute best athlete on the team, but I was usually the most focused at practice or during games. My mental toughness continued when I first started running two years ago and while I trained for my first half-marathon.
Then my first stress fracture happened. I was out of running for about two months, but got back and rebuilt my mental and physical stamina.
Then the second stress fracture popped up five months later and I was out for close to three months. Getting back into running the second time around was a lot more difficult, not only physically, but also mentally. In fact, I feel that I am still trying to come back mentally from that injury.
I realize how ridiculous that sounds; it has been a year since the first sign of injury. Yet, I am still struggling to rebuild my mental toughness and tenacity.
I used to be able to get through any run or training session with no doubts or “inner voices” telling me that I should quit. It took a lot for me to cut a workout short and on the rare occasion when I did, I would feel guilty about it for the remainder of the day.
Today I am the complete opposite; I often doubt myself and my abilities, I cut workouts short, and I am so hyperaware of every little pain and ache that I am afraid to push myself too much. I am also more self-conscious about my weight, since I feel like it has been slowing me down. The athlete I am now is not the athlete I was a year ago. Yes, a year ago I did have my doubts and failings, but I was also able to block them out and force myself to do the best I could.
I have had a few training cycles over the past year and, while I am ecstatic that I was able to complete them relatively injury free, I also have not accomplished very much. Yes, I have completed a couple of triathlons, but I have not hit many major milestones this year. The biggest accomplishment I have probably had was the Beck’s Light Challenge at Gasparilla in March.
I guess I am so frustrated with where my mental toughness has gone. It is almost nonexistent and I am struggling to regain it back. It will not come back overnight, but it is a work in progress; piece by piece, day by day.
My intention in this post is not to whine, complain, or be ohsodramatic. I will be the first to admit that I am very hard on myself and I want to succeed in whatever I put my mind to. I am a perfectionist and, while it is something I am working on controlling, I still have a long ways to go. I may not be the best at whatever the task is, but as long as I do the best that I can and bring everything to the table, then I can be happy in my performance.
That is one reason why I am writing this post. I have not been happy recently with my performance in many different areas of my life- athletics, academic, personal, etc. The reason for all of this boils down to this lack of mental toughness.
Which brings me to another reason why I am writing this. Over the past week I have been going back and forth with this upcoming triathlon in two weeks. As of today, I still have not registered. My original goal was to compete in the Olympic distance triathlon to close out my triathlon season, but I have some serious doubts.
My training has been pretty subpar over the past month. I have cut training runs short, skipped out on swims, and have struggled on the bike. I have had a difficult time getting into my workouts because mentally, I am all over the place. Obviously skipping or cutting workouts short is not going to help me physically get prepared either. I know that right now, I could complete the Sprint distance with some (moderate) success, but at the same time, I don’t want to sell myself short and not at least attempt the Olympic distance. I have been looking forward to this race all summer and I am sure I would be disappointed in myself if I did the shorter distance. At the same time, I do not want another “crash and burn” experience like I had earlier this year at Disney.
I already know that this is going to be a difficult race with an ocean swim and a beach run in the heat/ direct sunlight. I am already preparing myself mentally for this fact. I also know that I am not 100% physically prepared and that I may struggle, but doing the Olympic distance could also be an important lesson for me (it being- to get my planned workouts in no matter what!)
So, I guess I’m writing this post as a way to sort out what I should do. I do not have the mental toughness that I once had, which is a disadvantage for me, but at the same time, doing the Olympic distance could really put my mental toughness to the test. I could fail or I could succeed and regain some toughness that I have not had for so long.
This post turned more into a random flow of thoughts verses a concrete post, but I wanted to put this out there. I have until Tuesday to make my decision and hopefully I make the right one!
Have you ever struggled with mental toughness? How did you regain your toughness?