We all face critical decision points, whether you’re a CEO, lawyer, athlete, or stay-at-home mom. Those moments that define your momentum and who you are as a professional, a leader, and at the core, a person. We constantly discussed being able to identify these points in business school and on the crew team at Dartmouth. As a professional triathlete, the question is not whether I will face a moment like this on any given day; it is how many times this moment will arise.
Since Major League Triathlon wrapped up earlier this month (with a win for Cleveland! WOOHOO!), I’ve had my nose to the grindstone (hence, the way-to-long gap since my last post!). I’ve made some exciting progress in the water and am swimming the fastest I ever have, feeling the strongest I have on the bike, and am even finding hints of speed and lightness on my feet running even though it’s not an explicit focus right now!
Greg has made some adjustments to my training, which have been the catalysts for these gains. They have involved a good bit more intensity and strength work – particularly in the water, but also on the bike – and require much more focus. In almost every workout, I face that internal alarm: the one that says, “This hurts! Maybe you should back off!”
In a draft-legal race, this alarm starts going off 100m into the race and only gets louder as you progress through the swim, bike, and run, all at full gas. The victor is the woman who is able to silence that and keep pushing anyways. Who can fearlessly forge ahead to claim that key position in the water, to make the strategic move on the bike, and to throw down that final sprint on the run.
Something I have been working on in the midst of these painful workouts is being aware of that bell when it goes off, whether in the middle of a training session or towards the end of the week when I see my triathlon friends enjoying incredible race results over in Europe (which are no doubt inspirational but also hard to watch when I am back at home!) and my non-triathlon friends going out together on a Friday night while I lie exhausted on the couch gathering my strength and energy for a hard swim early the next morning. I have found that awareness of these moments allows me to consciously respond in a way that turns each decision point, each ringing of the bell, into a source of confidence that I can draw upon on race day.
Some days I am better at responding to – or even pre-empting – these moments than others. In a 5k swim, I might succeed in fully breaking through that brick wall 9 times out of 10. That needs to turn into 10 times out of 10. But each time I consciously answer the bell the way I want to on race day, I get more confident that when it’s time to throw down, I will have what it takes. It's much easier said than done, but I’m pretty psyched at the progress I’m making turning my mind into a fortress so that my fitness can show in two weeks when I toe the line at the US Elite National Championships.
I will leave you with a post from the folks at VASA that I absolutely love. It really captures the queues that have been my guiding light in those dark moments when the devil on my shoulder is ringing his bell: