When we talk about fitness in a literal sense, we think about being physically fit and healthy. But for me, and many other people in my position, fitness is often the the foundation for every life decision I make. If I’m not reaching my full potential physically, I am unable to do my job right. This means that most of what I am thinking about is in some way related to my maintaining or developing my fitness.
Every time I eat: “Am I getting enough protein, fibre, carbs? Is there enough color on my plate? Is this going to fuel me effectively for my workout?”
Every time I leave the house: “How much walking am I going to be doing? Will this casual footwear be efficient enough? Have I been on my feet too much today?”
Every start to the week: “What appointments do I have to attend? Can I coordinate these so that I don’t have to do too much driving? Where can I schedule a ‘lie down’ so I’m not sitting or standing too much between sessions?”
Although they seem silly when I write them down, these things are constantly running through my mind and are imperative to consider so that I am looking after myself the best way I can. They can get tiresome and tedious, and can also be the root of much stress. This reality means that my mental approach to fitness is just as important as my physical progress.
Every year that I continue to compete professionally, I am constantly finding ways to improve on my overall wellbeing both physically and mentally. This year in particular my mental approach to training has been crucial in moving forward. In a general sense I am a pretty laid back and adaptable person, but when it comes to things I am passionate about, I am a perfectionist. In some ways it is a positive because it provides me with this no quit attitude, but it has also been a huge negative to my running at times. Last season I realized just how negative this obsessive approach to training and racing can be, and I knew that if I wanted to continue in the sport and become a better athlete I was going to have to change this.
When I first began training with Melbourne Track Club at the end of last year, it was important for me to match this new training set up that was very different than what I was used to with a fresh mental outlook. This year I have pushed aside the perfectionist and challenged myself to approach things pragmatically. It has been HUGE in my overall happiness as an athlete and I now find myself looking forward to challenging myself and excited to compete. This ‘happy’ athlete is something I have struggled to be for most of my athletic career, and to feel like I am finding that part of me will hopefully be career changing.
Of course the perfectionist mentality will rear its ugly head when things don’t go to plan or unexpected challenges arise, but when I pull myself out of it I tell myself three things:
1. Let go
2. Accept the challenge
3. Move forward
With anything I work hard at I imagine that moment where all the stars align and magic happens. What I’ve experience first hand though, is that the desire for perfection can often hold you back from the beauty of the unknown and the freedom that an open mind can grant you. Going in with expectations will often limit you, but letting go of the things you cant control is when you can surprise yourself. The unpredictable nature of this sport is something to be embraced and there is never just one path on the road to success.
Fun Fact: So far this season I have raced 10 times. Out of all these races, 8 of them were races I could individually try and win (not a prelim, not a relay). I have won 6/8, a statistic I hope to keep rolling as the season continues. The reason? Half mental attitude, half Nic Bideau brilliant coaching???