Mental Giant, Empty Bucket
Mental Giant, I am not.
Scratch that. Mental Giant, I have not been in the past.
I was often completely prepared and capable of [———fill in the blank for whatever here———], but would often mentally defeat my own ability to do/finish/handle/win. The shiniest example of this was when I tried to make the 1998 Junior Worlds weighlifting team for the USA.
I made the team in 1997 (I made the team in 1997 without even knowing it, so I couldn’t psych myself out about it). To make the 1998 team, all I had to make was one more lift.
One measley little lift that I had completed a million times.
I had lost about sixteen pounds of bodyweight (an entire weightclass) for the event, so I was a little weak. But my first three lifts were strong, and in fact, I made a personal record in the first category. I felt surprisingly good going into the second half of the competition. All required of me for a slot on the team was to make one of next three lifts. Again, I had three shots to make one lift. Three strikes, and I would be out.
One-by-one, I talked myself out of each lift. I remember grabbing onto the bar and thinking, nope, no way in hell, not this time.
As I walked up to the bar the final time, I already knew it was over.
I’m not sure why I mentally sabotoged myself, in that moment. I had suffered and fasted/dieted/saunaed for two weeks. I had passed out in the hallway one night from dehydration. I had sacrificed and trained for six years, five days a week for three hours a day (that’s something like 4,500 hours of my life).
On that day, the reward was there for the taking. And I mentally blew it. Why?
Well, I remember that I would have missed my high school graduation, and that was a big point of contention between me and my mom. I remember that I would have missed finals, which would have caused issues with my teachers and the administration (but they always worked with me, so it was surmountable). I would be away from my boyfriend for two weeks. Oh wait. The boyfriend who lived in Portland, while I lived in Savannah? Yes, that was somehow still an excuse. I’m sure there were other reasons – all stupid.
As I think about it, I would often blow competitions and workouts just because of my mental state. One workout I was running a 103 fever. I went in the gym anyway, and was so sick I did not think about anything but how awful my head felt. The mental side of lifting was not in play. I was mindlessly throwing the bar around. And without even noticing, I broke a personal record that day. I wasn’t thinking, and I succeeded. And it was easy.
This whole adventure into triathlon is partly to rid myself of my own mental diminuitiveness. I feel that I need redemption for my stupid failures in weightlifting. I was such a mental dingbat when it came to parts of that sport, and I still resent myself for it. Redemption time.
The reason I am bringing all this up: the Duathlon for which I am registered in two weeks is starting to creep into my head a little. Little twinges of self doubt like: well, I haven’t really done enough hill training on the G-Force bike, so maybe I should just sit out and not do this
maybe I’m just not ready for it
what if I fail?
Driving home from work today, I realized I was headed down the same stupid path of mental excuses as I used in weightlifting. For me, the fear of failure has always been great. To succeed, I must have a strong mind and an impenetrable focus. I will certainly fail if I believe that I will fail. If I am strong, I cannot fail because I will have given everything I have to that moment, to that event. There is no failure when I can reach into the bottom of my bucket and know the whole darn thing is empty because I gave it all in that moment.
So there. That’s my motivation. Empty my bucket. If my bucket is empty at mile 8 instead of the end of the bike race at mile 12 or 16, so what. So what if I fall down in the race or finish last. Who cares? Who really cares? No one. Therefore, the only person in the race is me, and this is a race against my mind.
As long as my bucket is empty at the end of the day, then I win.