I went to a rather competitive college – both athletically and academically. Despite the state I live in, I am a Michigan Wolverine through and through. A couple things I learned in college was to make a friend in every class and to listen to my Walkman (yes, it was the 80’s, no iPods yet) on my way to take tests. If you didn’t have a friend and missed class, good luck getting the notes from someone. Also the art of talk was mastered by many – they want to psych you out right before a test. I studied Economics in undergrad – I actually heard someone ask another student while waiting to go in to a test if they were confident they knew what third degree price fixing is. It did not exist. Hence the music and my Walkman. Drown out the psycho babble. During my swim this morning, I realized I think those two principals work just as well in training and competing in triathlon.
As I have been training, I also have not been hesitant to share my lack of confidence that I am capable to compete in the arena with the “athletes”. A good deal of my mental preparation has been to overcome those doubts. As I have mentioned before, seeing is believing. After my race yesterday, I see differently. I swam with the best of them and held my own. I road well. My run is improving… I have improved and I know I have more to do. Having friends in the sport helps – a lot. There will always be someone faster and someone slower. Supporting and encouraging each other is so important. After shaving about a minute off of my time in an event, I was pleased with my improvement about it only to be told by someone that they expected me to do better. That was the last time I listened to that song. Friends support you, encourage you, cheer when you accomplish a goal – however small it may be.
Drown out the chatter – iPods, conversation with friends, ear plugs – what ever works. Because there will always be someone talking in the locker room, the pool, group rides and at races about how good they are and how well they do. I am also beginning to think that they are saying that because they don’t believe it on the inside, but if they brag enough they might be revered by the lesser athletes in their opinion. Toxic. A triathlete I highly respect is very encouraging to all in the sport, regardless of ability. She races phenomenally, does not brag and still shares her struggles, which shows that we all have them. Friends also are good tools to drown out the chatter.
It is all about the journey. Each day is a link in that long chain. I choose to focus on my reality – good and bad – and what I am able to do about it. Sometimes it is nothing. But that is determined by me, not listening to the psycho babble, and with a little help from my friends.