I had a conversation with my coach last week that went something like this:
Me: I am going to take a breather from triathlon racing this season. Maybe I’ll do Augusta, but as of now, I am not sure. The fire in my belly for racing is just not there. I didn’t feel it spectating at Chattanooga 70.3. Usually, I think, “MAN! I wish I was out there.” Nothing. Nada. I know there is no point racing without the fire… There’s just a lot going on and I really want to focus on strength training and running. Priorities just need to shift to fit my life right now.
Gerry: Great. Sounds like a great plan.
Of course, there was more than this. This is a summary.
We had a great conversation about how it’s good to identify what you are feeling, to figure out what you really want, and to act accordingly. I had a great gut feeling getting off the phone, felt like it was the right decision, etc., a little pep in my step.
Fast forward a week, and I text my poor coach a message.
Me: I am signing up for Ironman Florida.
Gerry: [dead silence]
By the way, I know what dead silence means. We’ll just say, it’s not good.
Then the next DAY, the phone rings, Uh-oh. The dead silence. An entire day to stew. Uh-oh.
Me: I am scared of this call.
Gerry: You don’t need to be scared, but I think you need to justify this wild swing in your plan.
Lawd, I am thankful for this coach of mine. This wild swing in your plan. Just that phrase was a like an electric shock.
How did I swing wildly from taking the season to breathe—to doing the damn big one?
I don’t know what got into me. I haven’t been in a position to even make eye contact with my bike. I mean, I can’t look at it. I don’t want to look at it. I used to LOVE riding, but not lately. I can’t swim without intense shoulder and neck pain—especially after the swim—(bone spur and compressed disc is the status of things there).
SO let’s just throw in an IRONMAN race. W. T. F.
Never once did he say, “That’s crazy.” Because we both know that if I wanted to do an Ironman and finish it, I would do the damn thing and finish it. (Even though it was a totally a crazy idea with the current status of things.)
But instead of telling me “you crazy,” he asked me the right questions.
Tony Robbins says that it’s allll about asking ourselves the right questions: and where I failed to ask myself the right questions, Gerry was there to do it for me, to ask me the questions that I should be asking myself.
These are the questions that stuck out:
- Why the wild swing in your PLAN?
(Note: his use of the word PLAN. He was holding me accountable for my self-made plan. I had come to a decision and made a plan. And then I took a monkey-bar swing in the other direction. This plan-keeping thing is what Lauren Zander called “personal integrity” in the Podcast Episode 16)
- If I am hearing you correctly, you now WANT to swim 3000-4000 meters a few times a week and ride your bike for 5-7 hours on the weekend? (Note: I did not mention this fact. He brought up the reality of Ironman training. Right now, I don’t have the 7 extra hours prioritized for riding on the weekend. I would have to massively shift things on the Sucky Rotation Schedule. Hurmph.Which led me to ask myself the next question, “Okay, Mere. What priorities are you planning on moving to make room for Ironman?”)
(Answer: None? Oh.)
- I am not trying to convince you one way or the other, but I am wanting YOU to justify this decision to YOURSELF?
(Note: I gave him a really long diatribe about why I made this decision. Which was full of no real reason other than, “Because I can.”)
With these three questions, plus the bonus, I asked myself… I realized that I had flipped a complete 180 from what I knew in my heart was the right decision. I had come to the right decision earlier, and I had created a plan around it.
Plans can change, sure.
But when I decided to focus on running and strength, and give myself some time away from the long (time-suck) of riding and long (pain in the neck, literally) swims… that was a well-thought out, healthy and practical plan.
When I flipped, my new “plan” was not a plan at all. It was an impulse. A reaction (to what, I have no idea). And silly.
I am thankful for impulses. They sometimes lead to really great things.
But with the impulse, it helps to have the plan somewhere in the same stratosphere—and I am thankful for those people who always show me the way—right back to me.
(Summary: No Ironman Florida. Augusta is still possible, but for now I am doing what makes me happy: running and lifting weights.)
(Holy abs, Batman.) We talk triathlon, fitness, acting, and fecal transplants. (Yeah, baby).
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