A week later, and I am still living with the euphoric feeling of achieving a great accomplishment; in this case, my solo 6-day training camp that I completed last week. To others it may not seem like much–and to be honest I would have laughed at myself a few years ago at such an “easy” challenge–but right now this was a really special achievement, and I must say I am extremely proud of myself for accomplishing it! There can be no better feeling in the world than setting yourself a goal and then achieving it, and exceeding your own expectations in the process.
Let me explain. A couple of weeks ago I had the urge to return to my endurance sport roots (triathlon), after a couple of years of dabbling in it inconsistently and spending most of my time participating in completely different sports (namely boxing and strength training) for a change of scene. I needed something new; I was bored; and so I took a time-out. It turns out this was exactly what I needed, as slowly but surely, my desire to recommence triathlon training returned – hallelujah! Bolstered by my newly returned enthusiasm, and encouraged and inspired by a friend who did a 3-week cycling/running tour through Italy and the UK on her vacation, I decided I wanted to do my own training camp, and really get back into the groove. And so evolved my 6-day, home-based training camp in my local area – between southern Switzerland and northern Italy. And if this wasn’t the perfect place to rekindle my love for triathlon, then I don’t know where is!
One of the benefits of completing a training camp solo is that it gives you a lot of quality time to think. Spending hours out on the bike, or losing yourself in nature whilst running the mountain trails, they all have one thing in common – freeing your mind. It’s really fascinating to see where your mind goes when it is free from clutter and noise; perhaps that explains why I rode for 4h alone without music or any other form of entertainment! Anyway, my point is that some quality time alone out in nature put many things in perspective for me, triggered some “epiphany” moments and gave me some great insights about myself, my life and sport. Upon further reflection, the relationship between sport and life in general–both personal and professional–was again highlighted to me. This isn’t a new concept and I have even written about this previously, but being in a different situation now made me learn new things and make different connections between these events. Since I have already shared the details of my training camp with you last week, I wanted to wrap it up by sharing my insights and learnings with you too, which I hope you find as useful as I did! And if you’d like to catch up on the details of my training camp, then you can read about it here on the DrKellieRose Performance Science Facebook page.
So to begin, a summary of the week in numbers:
- Road cycling: 301.3 km over 3 sessions
- Trail running: 24.8 km over 2 sessions (including 1 mountain summit)
- Open water swimming: 2.3 km in 1 session
- Strength training: 2 sessions of HIT with free weights
As I said, nothing outrageous, but for me it represented a challenge: to complete more training in one week than I have done in approximately the past 4 years. This training also accomplished my goals of performing a consistent week of solid training without excessive fatigue or deteriorating physically (and mentally!); and rebuilding my endurance base through strength- and aerobic-based sessions. I wasn’t interested in speed; I was focussed on strength and endurance – and that’s exactly what I got!
Below are some of the lessons I learnt and the connections I made between sport and life:
- My mind is the limiting factor. As I discovered during my sessions last week, my body is physically capable of so much more than I gave it credit for. In fact, I surprised myself at what I was able to achieve and how strong I felt, within each session and across the week in general. This opened my mind to new possibilities, and gave me a great feeling of confidence in my fitness and abilities. It’s the same in life; our minds are the limiting factors to what we can achieve, as they are slaves to our inner thoughts of doubt and fear. Instead, if we open our minds and allow ourselves to try, to take on new challenges, we will progress and grow in so many unexpected ways.
- Living with old paradigms. These are the stories that we tell ourselves, about who we are and what we are capable of, that ultimately create our realities. For me, these were along the lines of “I am not fit/fast/strong enough” to do any long or hard rides or runs, when I hadn’t even given myself the chance to try, to see what my limits actually are. I haven’t entered a race because “I am not fit/fast/strong enough”, “I don’t have enough time to train”, and the list continues. But my biggest realisation last week, was that maybe I do like swimming after all! – after years of telling myself that “I’m not a good swimmer and that’s my weak leg”. Perhaps true, but it doesn’t mean I have to hate it! In every aspect of our lives, we have the ability to change our paradigms, our scripts that we live by; and in the words of Holly Ransom, “it is only our reality for as long as we let it be”.
- I rediscovered my “why”. This was the key that unlocked my feelings of happiness and enjoyment that I previously derived from training. I realised that I was forcing myself to train because I thought I had to – it felt like a chore. Now I am training because I realised how much I love it when I allow myself to do it solely for enjoyment, and for my own benefit – the personal challenge, the healthy lifestyle, the exercise “high”, the freedom and peace of mind, and of course the excitement of discovering new areas and experiencing such beautiful scenery. I recently had to rediscover my “why” professionally, and through that process I made an important distinction: inspiration is intrinsic and related to my vision, mission and values, and thus associated with my “why”; whilst motivation is extrinsic, transient and subject to uncontrollable factors. Finding our “why” for everything we do in life ensures our commitment, dedication and most importantly our enjoyment, as it is in aligment with our greater purpose.
- I let go of expectations. I didn’t want to train before because I was always comparing myself with how fit/fast/strong I used to be, and I got depressed when I constantly fell short of my own expectations – however unrealistic and unreasonable they may be. So instead of constantly comparing myself to my previous abilities, I accepted that I am now older and in a different physical condition; but nothing is stopping me from building back up to where I once was! And with my newfound enjoyment of training it will be a challenging but fun process. We are often our own harshest critics in life, holding ourselves to the highest standards. I am guilty of this, and so now I have learnt to let go of all expectations; instead of aiming to be perfect, I aim to be brave and give it a go. This is where we grow the most, learn the most, and ultimately – achieve the most.
- Sport teaches resilience. Overcoming challenges and achieving goals in sport gives me the confidence to face challenges in life – both personally and professionally. Sport pushes us to our limits physically and mentally, and shows us what we are capable of; I know that I am strong, determined and committed to keep on trying until I succeed. And when I am successful in sport, I feel more confident and capable in life in general, with an eagerness to take on new challenges and opportunities that test my skills and abilities to a greater degree.
- Sport pushes us out of our comfort zone. My “rule” last week to ride and run new routes or add novel elements took me to places I have never been before, and perhaps would never have gone had I not challenged myself in this way. Sure, I agonised over some of the planned routes, full of fear that I wouldn’t be able to handle it and then have to write about my “failure” publicly, since I had committed to the challenge on my Facebook page. But if I didn’t commit to this “rule”, I would have done the same ride and run routes that I had done 100 times before, and enjoyed it only a fraction of what I did. Old paradigms, insecurities, self-doubt and low self-confidence can rear their ugly heads when we want to break from the mold, to keep us trapped in the known and familiar landscapes of life. But when we take the leap outside of that circle of comfort – well, that’s where the magic happens! That’s where we accomplish our greatest achievements and take the biggest steps forward.
What new challenges have you set yourself, what stretchy goals are pushing your limits? What have you learnt in the process? I’d be really interested to hear any insights you’ve had, both personally and professionally, and how this may have impacted on your life for the better.
You can catch up on the full story of my training camp on the DrKellieRose Facebook page. Thank you to all of you who followed along and sent messages of support last week! It kept me going when I needed a boost!