Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Decisions, decisions..

I have a problem.

One of the benefits of being a self-trained athlete is the ability to choose what I want to do and when I want to do it. From daily workouts to season-long race choices, I get to decide when, where, and what. While this freedom is one of the main reasons I haven't taken the next step and gotten a coach, it's also a freedom that causes some drama in my athletic sphere.

I'm very easily influenced by anything I read or see. Right now I'm working on a book that's set in the deep south, so naturally I want to go on a trip not just to Mississippi, but back in time, to when civil rights were being fought for while white ladies played bridge. Not because I want to play bridge with the white ladies..but because I want to experience that reality.

If I read a food blog, or notice a great recipe, I immediately want to go home and bake, and also eat that cookie/cake/pie/cobbler/muffin now. This is where a lot of my poor eating habits stem from...cravings brought on by amazing recipes. Reading about cookies=I want a cookie. Worse, when I get those hankering's to eat and bake, I can't stand the idea of spending my evening training. I want only to bake.

Naturally, training is no different. I read an ITU race recap, and I think "I want to devote myself to this sport. I want to train 12 hours a week, and get super fit and fast, and see how far I can take myself in triathlon." Or I read about USAT rankings and I decide that I will focus on scoring points this season, and see where I line up compared to others in my age group. But if I read someone's recap of a half marathon, say, I completely forget about the race schedule I'd set up for myself last week when I decided I wanted to qualify for AG Worlds, and want nothing more than to go for long, slow runs, and try a half marathon.

This inability to focus on one thing: baking or triathlon or racing or even the workout waiting for me at home is kind of a problem. It leads to inconsistent training, and crash training when I realize how low my weekly hours are. It leads to poor race prep. It causes me to constantly re-plan my workout weeks and season race plans, and even my daily training. Sometimes I think I spend more time planning, calculating, tallying and mapping out training plans than I actually spend training. Oh, irony. You are a bitter pill to swallow.

I don't know how other self-coached athletes find that happy balance, between training and racing while still fulfilling other hobbies, without becoming absorbed in one or the other. I guess what I need to do is keep reminding myself that I'm young. I have many years of training ahead of me. I can always focus on half marathons next year, or in the off-season. And while I don't ever want to take my life for granted, I need to be patient. Focus on my immediate goals. Try my hardest at one thing before moving on. I know that in the end, that's what'll make me most proud, and fulfilled.

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