(Fraud) Dad

Being a dad, you get the “role model” part thrust upon you whether you want it or not.  I’ve tried to embrace it, but sometimes I just feel like a big fraud.  I think this is a common struggle for people who try to achieve and surpass crazy goals over an extended period of time.  In this post, I open the door to my personal struggle – maybe you can relate?

It has now been several months since my last post.

During this time I’ve probably done 50% of my workouts.  I’ve probably eaten reasonably for 20-30% of my meals.  I’ve withdrawn from my first Half Ironman of the year (scheduled for mid-April) and have lowered my expectations for my next one in July.  I just completed a Sprint tri with the slowest 5k I’ve run in 5 years.  I’ve stopped thinking in terms of competing to qualify and set PRs and have started thinking of how much easier things would be if I just stopped trying.  I’ve also put on about 20 pounds from where I usually would be as race season approaches.

Why has all of this happened?  Did I suddenly obtain a super-client that has radically changed my schedule?  Did I take up some new activity to keep me busy?  Nope.  I just stopped being so motivated.

I’ve accomplished a ton over the past five years – by any measure.  I lost over 100 pounds.  I increased my boys’ interest and appreciation for the value of fitness.  I’ve motivated literally dozens of people to change their lifestyle through personal conversations.  I’ve served as a “motivational photograph” for my coach and my doctor.  My “story” was featured by USA Triathlon as part of their Nationals coverage last year.  I completed an Ironman race.  I qualified for Long Course World Championships.  I’ve won medals in my age group in running and triathlon races.  I’ve stuck around to see my daughter and I’m not her “fat daddy”.

But the years have been a constant struggle too.  I learned early on that taking my eye off the ball for even a short time would result in decreased performance.  If I couldn’t swim for a few weeks, I’d almost instantly start losing time and capability.  If I missed runs, I’d run at a slower pace for same heart rate within just a few days.  My weight would go up 2-3 pounds a week every week in which I missed more than 1-2 workouts or ate a few “special party meals”.  How much do I care about performance?  Why was “I’ve got to get an Ironman done” so important to me, but “I want to do a fast 70.3 and go to Worlds” not enough to drive me to the kind of focus it takes to be successful?

And the struggle of being a fit dad is not just limited to maintaining my own fitness.  The “dad” part shows the same struggle.  What kind of role model have I really been?  Some of my family and friends have seen my example and followed wholeheartedly – building self-motivating tools that will remain with them forever.  But others have seen, acknowledged the value, but still do not prioritize fitness.  I try to push, to encourage, to support, but ultimately I have recognized that I must be fit for myself – others can see and will do what they will do.

This makes me tired.

I love to motivate people, but I honestly cannot help but feel like a fraud when it comes to being “Fit Dad”.  Good idea – poor execution.  I don’t know if true “fit dad” status is supposed to yield self-motivated, encouraged friends, kids, followers, etc… maybe I simply have set the bar too high and shouldn’t get frustrated.  But I have NOT felt like anyone’s role model lately and am not sure if this journey is too arduous for me to continue.

I have not asked for much from my readers, but here is one where I would love to hear your comments.  Are my goals for “truly motivated” readers unrealistic?  Have any of you been motivated to personal changes?  Why should I keep spending time on this?  When it’s 6:30 and I can either go to the gym for yet another weight/swim combo, OR have a nice breakfast and get to work early and land some new clients, WHY should I make the gym choice?  My choice isn’t encouraging my family to make that kind of choice.  If it’s “just for me” then maybe it isn’t enough.

What do you say, readers? Have you ever felt like others viewed you as a role model, but you felt like a fraud?  If you want to offer encouraging words but don’t want to post publicly, just email me at kjramaley on gmail.com – I’d love to hear from you.  My next blog post will vary wildly based on how this all works out…  I wish all of you the best and thanks for walking with me on the journey so far.  I feel like I’ve hit a huge, bare rock face with no obvious ascent path.  I’ve come pretty high, though… maybe it’s time to stop climbing and just enjoy the view.

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2015 Starts NOW

Happy 2015 all FitDad followers!

I am very excited about getting 2015 off with a bang and wanted to share a bit about how I go about making changes and planning for a great year.

PiePrizeFirst – a bit about the old year:  As you can see I wrapped up 2014 with a bang by getting 3rd in my AG at the Gettysburg Run at the Rock 5K – and setting a new 5K PR to boot!  Prize was a Chocolate Pecan pie.  Yum.  Only had a small piece, but it was a great addition to our family Christmas celebration with my parents and sister’s family in Gettysburg.

OK – now on the the NEW!  2015!

Step 1:  Set goals

I decided that 2015 would be the year of the 70.3 (Half Ironman).  I want to get under 5 hours!  I want to qualify for some World Championships!  I’m going to be entering a new age group this year (M45-49) so this will be a good chance.  And I’m running well based on recent 13.1, 6.2, and 3.1 PR’s.  So why not aim high!

Also I decided to step on a scale on January 1 to see where I stand on weight and body composition.  Oops!  The combination of missed workouts and less attention to nutrition lifted me back up to unacceptable weight and body fat numbers! (201 lbs and 19.1% BF)  Eek!  Those are numbers I haven’t seen in years!  OK – so another goal is get back down to “normal racing weight” around 175 pounds and 12% or so BF.  These are even more attainable than the race goals because they’re 100% in my control.  Of course, this is a big attitude thing too.  I view it as training with an extra weight belt for a few months – which will decrease by about 2 lbs/week.  If I can maintain focus, I’ll be just fine for my first big races…. oh yes that brings us to step 2:

Step 2 – Set specific milestones

To help me achieve my big goals I am planning on three 70.3 races this year – TryCharleston in April, IM Racine 70.3 in July, and Redman in Oklahoma City in September (which is the US Long Course Championship).   If Racine goes well and I get a bit of “rolldown luck”, I could even maybe qualify for the 70.3 World Championships in Austria in September, so that is a possible fourth race.  Back of mind but definitely a driver!

OK – and on the weight/Bodyfat my milestone is simple:  175 and 12% by April 18 (date of Charleston 70.3)

But these are end-state milestones – what about the smaller steps along the way?

Step 3 – Intermediate milestones

For the racing, I am very encouraged by the fact that despite carrying around two extra 10-lb dumbbells strapped to my gut I have been setting run PRs!  This bodes well for me after I become leaner!  I am going to continue to focus on run speed and have scattered a number of 5k runs, with a half marathon at end of February as well.  I’ll also probably throw in a sprint or olympic-distance tri or two between April and July – maybe even qualify for USA Olympic Nationals again – I have some unfinished business on that course in Milwaukee!

And of course on the bodyfat and weight, the interim steps are simple.  I want continually decreasing numbers approximately 2lbs/week and 0.5% BF/wk.  These are numbers I know to be sustainable based on when I’ve been here before.  Maybe I’ll post progress graphs to the blog – anyone up for seeing that?

Step 4 – Communicate Goals/Milestones and embrace support

My coach knows about every one of these goals and is using them to tailor my training plan.  My family knows about these goals too, of course, and will support me every step of the way!  Of course they all have their own goals and plans for 2015 as well.  Maybe my next post will be on family goals… Interested?  And of course this crazy Internet group is right behind me as well!

So, if you haven’t had a chance yet, document your goals and make them happen!  There is only ONE day that you can ever make a change – TODAY.  Changing at some day in the future means you haven’t changed yet.  Commit and go for it!  The process is simple and your loved ones are right behind you!  Nothing inspires like aspirations!  Let your family see you aspire and they will too.  This is what makes me FitDad instead of just “FitGuy” or “FitKen”.  And I relish that role!

Happy 2015 Blog Readers!  More exciting stuff to come!

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Who You Gonna Believe?

Last week I got to have the wonderful experience of doing the Walt Disney World Wine and Dine Half Marathon with some good friends.  It was a fun race, despite the driving rain.  I actually did manage a PR (by 4 seconds!) and am feeling very good about my Half Marathon Speed!  Next goal is to try for the “Fast Person” corral at the Cooper River Bridge Run by running sub-45 in the 10k Turkey Trot in a few weeks.

What does this have to do with the title of the post?  Well, the 13.1 PR sure FELT a lot faster than it turned out to be.  But of course my GPS watch also reported it as 13.3 miles.  That extra 0.2 miles is about 1:35 worth of time!  Big difference from a PR perspective, eh?

Now, I have NO idea whose data is more reliable.  The course is certified and all that, but there are lots of websites claiming that the course was a bit long (I googled it!).  Plus the WAY it misread was very unusual – the mile marks were exactly in sync thru mile 10 but then mile 11 (marked on the course) showed up at 11.2 on my watch.  The whole error being in one mile seems odd, doesn’t it?

Another tricky data point is on Heart Rate Data.  I use my favorite watch – Garmin 910XT – to measure HR data, but every now and again you will get erroneous data from this device (although I improved it a lot by changing the HR strap to the Polar one with the Garmin transmitter).  But of course in the “heat of battle” you just have to go by your perception.  The feeling of running “hard but not too hard” is one that comes with time and I think is a big part of what run training is all about.

Ultimately when you work out, you have to decide if the devices are in charge, or you are.  And when the data doesn’t seem to jibe with what you feel, who you gonna believe?

(TOP SECRET TIP:  I almost always believe the devices!  But the “feel” thing is a great concept, isn’t it?)  Have a Fit Dad Day!


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A Running Mind

Malcolm and I having a running moment

Malcolm and I having a pre-running moment

What do you think about when you are running?

I know a lot of people run with music.  Others seek out a running group and, I suppose, think about hanging with the group.  I have always been one to value my running time as my own private “fortress of solitude” (that’s Superman’s big ice palace for the uninitiated!).  But this weekend I’ve noticed that the quality of my thoughts have a LOT to do with the quality of my run.  Let me explain…

On Saturday I had a 12 mile base-building run.  This was low HR effort and is about laying down that base for my upcoming marathon and half marathon.  I took advantage of the time to run with my boys.  My younger son Malcolm did the first 8 with me, and his brother Hunter did the last 6.  All of us were together for 2 of the miles.  The three different experiences were reflected quite clearly in my effort and effectiveness through the run!

Malcolm is a Cross Country star.  Despite being a Freshman, he is one of the top athletes on his team and does a sub-18:00 5k.  I knew the run was impossibly easy for him, but greatly appreciated his efforts.  I felt obligated to carry on a dialogue with him, just to help him pass the time and deal with the presumed boredom of going at “dad pace”.  We talked easily about a variety of topics.  It was light, easy, and enjoyable.  I averaged about the pace I would have expected (maybe a bit high) and about the heart rate I expected (again maybe a bit high).

When his brother joined us, the conversation ceased.  It would have been rude to speak with Malcolm while Hunter was behind and couldn’t hear well, so we didn’t talk too much.  My focus was 100% on my running.  My HR and pace both decreased a bit but remained in approximately the same ratio effort/effect.

When Malcolm left, Hunter and I spoke about Bridge.  Playing Bridge (the card game!) is one of our hobbies together.  During our miles, we had a spirited discussion on the costs and merits of certain bidding approaches, etc.  I noticed that as the discussion became more animated, my HR went up, regardless of pace.  Furthermore, when the discussion was calmer, I found myself lapsing into lower HRs – sometimes even below the target effort level.

Maybe Hunter was less inclined to “push” me.  Maybe I was more inclined to “show off” for Malcolm.  But the really interesting thing was the impact of my mental state on my heart rate, even holding pace constant.  I wonder how much “mental effort” contributes to “total effort” and thus increases heart rate?

Today’s run was a 15k race in Cornelius, NC.  During the course of the run, I wore a HR strap and lacking anyone for conversation, my mind was free to wander.  I have had some mental “stresses” lately related to work and other areas, and whenever I thought about those, sure enough my HR would increase (without giving me the speed “payout” I wanted).  But when I spent time appreciating the beauty of the day and my health, family and other positives I had more normal results.  All in all it worked out OK as I did the 15k at a 7:58 pace – right about where I’ve been for most of the year.  And I still have plenty of time to improve that before my fall races.

I’m not 100% sure what to make of this.  I obviously can’t fully eliminate big stresses from my life.  But I can probably control how much they enter my mind when I’m exercising.  People often talk about the BENEFIT of playing sports when you’re angry or stressed – like “taking it out on a tennis ball” or pushing extra-hard to get over the stress.  But I don’t think this applies very well to endurance sports – at least it doesn’t for me.  So my plan is simply to be aware of this relationship (Physical Effort + Mental Effort = Total Effort) and do everything I can to minimize the mental effort and save those heartbeats for the extra-hard physical efforts!

Oh – and having people there cheering for you helps a lot too!

Happy miles!

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Don’t sweat the non-goals

And now we are in the fall season.  Every year since this started I’ve had a “big deal” race in the second half of my season that I was trying to “peak” for.  I did the Beach2Battleship Half Iron-distance race in 2011, Rev3 Anderson in 2012, and IM Arizona last year.  But this year my only half-iron race was in June.  I’d planned to do another one this fall but “life got in the way”.  The only problem with being your own boss is that any minute you’re not working directly impacts your bottom line.  I need to be spending time selling consulting and training services, not preparing for a long triathlon, so here I am…

But what is my next challenge?  After failing to qualify for Worlds in June, I needed something to look to.  Of course there is 2015 – and I am still planning to have a great season next year, but that’s somewhere outside of my “motivation horizon” – so what can I do THIS year?  What will get me out of bed in the mornings and keep me focused?  I wish I could say “Well, since I know I’m a role model that’s always motivation enough”, but that wouldn’t be true.  I need a race or athletic challenge in addition to all of that.

So… I’m doing the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon in November and the Kiawah Marathon in December.  That means that between now and then I’m training like a single-sport athlete.  More running than I used to do and less bike, swim, and weights.

But somebody forgot to tell my ego about that.

I’m doing one swim workout a week and suddenly workouts I was doing in May are impossible.  I’m missing intervals and getting winded in the pool faster than ever.  I sent my coach a note complaining about the “discouraging workouts”.  He sent a great reply reminding me that I’m not training like a swimmer now.  I’m getting in the pool occasionally, sure, but I’m going to lose some swim fitness.  It’s all part of the plan.  But my run efficiency is improving, isn’t it?

And that is a key for me.  Every time I have a tri, I’m always thinking about how I can have my best swim ever, my best bike ever, and my best run ever.  That’s the multi-sport mindset that keeps me going.  But I’m not doing tris right now, am I?  So I better readjust my expectations to go along with my readjusted training plan.

And this gets to my latest big learning – just like I was OK being bottom 20% of athletes at USAT Olympic-Distance Nationals in August (because I am not a short-course athlete!), I have to be OK not setting swim PRs in the pool while I’m training like a runner.  You set your goals and commit to them – and then you can’t worry about failing to meet other non-goals.  If it’s a non-goal, who cares anyway?

So in 2015 I’ll be back to tearing up swim and bike courses, along with my newly-revamped run!  But for the rest of this year, I’m a runner and excited to see what I can do!


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Spreading the Word about FitDad

It’s great to have a good story, but it only inspires when more people learn about it!

This morning I’m in Milwaukee getting ready for the US Olympic-Distance National Championship tomorrow.  This is exciting enough, but there’s more.. after my last post I got a call from USA Triathlon and they found my story to be inspirational, so they interviewed me and my coach and decided to publish it on their web page – http://goo.gl/RFmXwu  Wow.  I’m so humbled by the attention but excited to have more people learn about what I did so they can see what IS possible!  Please share this link!

And a special note to anyone who just found my blog.  Welcome!  This website chronicles the ongoing trials and tribulations of a formerly “Fat Dad” who became “FitDad” and has locked onto the goal of inspiring people, especially parents, to change their lives and get their kids on a great, healthy path.  You can read my archives to get a sense of what we’ve been doing on here!  And consider subscribing – we’d love to have you.  I only post about once every 2-3 weeks but the posts are usually thoughtful and impactful (if I do say so myself!).  Thanks!


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FitDad all the time

“Dad” is a 24×7 job.  “FitDad” is a 24×7 approach to being a dad.

But sometimes, “life gets in the way” and the “fit” part seems to be harder to demonstrate.

For the past 2 weeks, my older son and I were in Las Vegas playing bridge at the North American Bridge Championships.  He is a great player – one of the top in the country in his age range.  We had a great time and got some great results.  But how can I still be FitDad in a land with no exercise pools, no outdoor bike rides, limited opportunities to run outdoors with 100+ degree temps every day, and inconsistent access to weight rooms?  Oh yes, and let’s not forget a bridge tournament that kept us up to 11pm more often than not and had us back at the tables by 9am the next day.  And nutritionally, has anyone ever tried to eat just one dessert at a Las Vegas buffet?

The good news is, we survived and he still thinks of me as “FitDad”.  We did, in fact, get up to run at 5am or earlier almost every day.  We did eat at the buffets but had a lot of veggies (and definitely too many desserts too).  And most importantly, we did get to share the story of our fit lifestyle with a group who are predominantly sedentary.

Of course with the two weeks of limited time to spend on my business, I got home and found myself nearly overwhelmed with work.  So, even though my training schedule ramped up to resume swimming, biking, and running at “usual” levels, my “life schedule” did not allow that.  I had a tough conversation with my coach about the need to cut back on training while I continue to work on business development.  Tactical goals have shifted slightly.  The upcoming USA Triathlon National Olympic-Distance Championships in Milwaukee will NOT look like a “focused, tapered performance” for me, but I will be there and hope to represent myself and the FitDad lifestyle well.  After that event, I’ll be more focused on running for the next few months, but my overall lifestyle and commitment to goals remains the same.

I’ve concluded that I cannot allow “Life got in the way” to be an excuse.  Life will always get in the way.  I have to decide on my priorities and then mold my life to work with those.  Sometimes a specific race is the priority, sometimes it’s not.  Sometimes writing a blog post is a priority, sometimes I will go 5 weeks between posts!  But I know that the principle of being “FitDad” will always be a priority – all the time – whatever that may mean!  And my kids and family will remember that!

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National Long Course Triathlon Championships – Battling THE VOICE

Finishing a Long Day in Grand Rapids

Finishing a Long Day in Grand Rapids

As you know I was in Grand Rapids, MI on June 8 for the USA National Long Course Triathlon Championship.  It was quite a day for me.  I finished the 70.3 mile Half-Iron distance course in 5:10 – 7 minutes faster than I’ve ever gone for that distance.  At most of the races I’ve entered that would be a top 20 or even top 10 finish.  At the National Championships – 42/88.  You can see my “official time” including a finish line video at The Race Website

The numbers tell the story of a great day, and of course I’m happy with my performance.  With that said, it wasn’t the kind of breakthrough day I was hoping for.  My swim is nearly 10 seconds per 100 faster in the pool than it used to be, but my swim time in the lake was about the same as usual.  My bike was strong – 21.9 mph – but the course was fairly flat.  And my run was full of cramps that slowed me down.  Every time I would take a walk break it took serious inner strength (I’ll talk about “VOICE BATTLES” later in this post) to get those locked muscles moving again!  My legs just weren’t ready to work that hard on the run after working that hard on the bike!  Bottom line:  I have a LONG WAY to go if I’m going to be on Team USA in the near future.  Good news, though!  I’ve come a long way so far and am ready to do it again!

In triathlon, it’s not enough to have a great swim or great bike.  You have to have a great swim and/or bike with enough left “in the tank” to give you a great run.  I’ve heard some pros refer to it as having a “matchbook” – you burn matches with effort and the more matches you burn on the swim or bike the less you have for the run.  It’s a tough balance to find.  Of course my approach is what you’d expect – add more, longer-burning matches to the book!

And that gets me to my next point.  I mentioned “THE VOICE” in my last post.  “THE VOICE” is my greatest foil in every endeavor.  The times I overcome that voice, I break through and reach new levels.  But of course the voice gets the best of me sometimes too.

Yesterday’s workout was a great “VOICE battle” that I wanted to share.  After nationals I had a recovery week with light training and this past week I’ve been ramping back up.  Yesterday was to be a very long workout – 3 hour bike followed by a 10 mile run following my race strategy combining hard runs with short walks.   A very tough day and about 3X harder than anything I’ve done since nationals.

I got on the bike on my trainer downstairs and was NOT feeling good.  I was literally ready to stop after 45 minutes.  I made it to an hour and had already mentally justified quitting.  I got off the bike to go to the bathroom and then said to myself – “Well, I’ll just do 30 minutes more.  At least that way I will have done 1/2 of the prescribed bike”.  So I hopped on for 30 more minutes.  And it hurt.  At the 90 minute mark I was sure I was done but after 30 seconds of rest I decided to go some more and try to hit that 2 hour mark.   At about 1:45 Gloria came into the room and asked how I was doing.  I told her I’d definitely be cutting the ride short but wasn’t yet sure how short.  I was sweating like crazy and my legs felt dead.  At 2:00 and 2:30 I had the same kind of battles with “THE VOICE” and would you believe I actually did all 3 hours?  The 10 mile run simply wasn’t going to happen at that point but I did a lot more than I thought I could.

I have no idea if that one specific workout on June 21 had any significant impact on my “cycling muscles” that will help me be faster at next year’s National Championships.  Probably not.  But if I’d given up at an hour, then the next time I’d be able to go for two hours and still “feel good about it” because after all it was better than last time.  Now that the bar from “last time” is at the full 3 hours I have a lot harder time with my excuses, don’t I?  The individual workouts barely matter, but the practice at battling “THE VOICE” matters a lot.  There were at least 30 times I wanted to quit yesterday.  I won the battle 29 times.  That’s pretty good.

I suppose I could wax philosophical about all of the other voices in my life and encourage you to consider the voices that are holding you back in yours, but knowing my readers as I do, I suspect most of you are already doing that.  So I’ll just sign off and encourage you to win a few more voice battles today than you did yesterday.  Training yourself to defeat the voice matters a lot.  Every time.


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Winning the Mini Battles (ATTITUDE Part 2)

Dearest readers,

I have kept you hanging far too long on this topic and so here is the long-awaited part 2 of my post on attitude.

First a quick public service announcement:  The last month has been crazy for me as I’ve focused on preparing for the USA Long Course Triathlon National Championship.  You can track my progress at the Grand Rapids Triathlon website .  I believe my race number will be 5342 but you can also search for my last name “Ramaley”.  I am in the Half-Iron triathlon race.  I think there will also be live video at the finish should you be inclined to watch some tired people crossing the line!

OK, now on to our topic of the day – ATTITUDE Part 2.  In the last post we discussed two key concepts – Internal Focus and Positive Belief.  These are the key strategies that will allow you to achieve extraordinary success in training, or nearly any endeavor you attempt.  Today’s post will take us to a more tactical sphere – the mini-battles that rage every time you get out and try to execute your plan.

I don’t think I have ever done a workout where I didn’t at some point want to quit.  There.  I said it.  I “enjoy” working out, but it still hurts and my body likes to avoid pain!  A real-time feed of my brain on a 10 mile run would be filled with these kinds of sentences: “How much longer till the walk break?  Maybe I can start walking 30 seconds earlier this time”.  “What if I just did 8 miles today – that’s still pretty good, right?”  “It’s hotter than usual so if my coach knew that he never would have given me 10 miles – I should adjust.”  “I’m doing pretty well on these hills – since it’s so hilly 9 is enough, right?”

Dearest reader, I have a secret for you:  Sometimes the voices WIN the negotiation and I do quit my workout early.  I think everyone has these voices in every endeavor.  And I’ve never met anyone so mentally tough as to always win those battles with “THE VOICE”.  But I win most of the time.  A vast majority of the time, the counter-arguments prevail.  After all, I don’t HAVE to do the workout.  I don’t HAVE to do anything.  But I WANT to achieve things, don’t I?  I WANT to get to the World Championships.  I WANT to lose pounds and body fat.  When I’m really suffering I may even question how much I want those things too, but not too often.  That’s what being driven is all about.

Of course, this kind of negotiation is not specific to running.  Same thing riding, swimming, or especially lifting weights.  My coach always prescribes a range of weights to lift – like 12-15 reps.  This range is VERY important for me because it signals when I’m ready to increase the weight.  If I can do 15 each set for the number of prescribed sets, then I will increase the resistance level next time.  Do you have any idea how difficult it is to do the 15th one on the final set?  Not only am I working hard, but I realize that if I succeed I will make things harder on myself next time.  But THAT’s what motivates me.  That ONE more rep is the key to moving me to the next level. The purpose of the first 14 reps was just to get me to that one 15th rep that can be the key to reaching my goals.

What are your reps?  What is the hard thing in your life that you need to overcome a million times, on a micro level, in order to truly achieve?  Nobody is watching.  The world will never know if you win the constant mini-skirmishes.  But you will know and your results will reflect it.

As I go into my big race this Sunday I will be thinking of all the power and strength I derived from winning all those tough mini-battles.  I can’t control how fast the competition will be, but I can know that I did everything to give myself the best race possible.  Wish me luck!  Race report coming next week!


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When the Going Gets TOUGH (Attitude Part 1)

When I learned there were over 100 people in my age group fighting for World Championship qualifying spots, I had a choice:  Get distressed or get faster.  The facts remain the same, but my attitude would determine a radically different path for the next month as I prepare for Nationals in Grand Rapids, MI.

How many times do we find ourselves in unexpectedly challenging circumstances?  How often do we truly use them as an opportunity to buckle down and improve ourselves even more vs. allowing them to deflate us?  It’s NOT about “optimism” vs. “pessimism”.  It’s about drive and true belief in a few key concepts.  Attitude is so important to training, accomplishing weight loss, or even living that I want to get this all out in two parts.

I promised last time that this post would unveil my SECRET.  Yep.  This is it all right.  The SECRET to weight loss.  The SECRET to improving physical condition or results.  The SECRET to success at nearly anything.   It all comes down to how you respond when things are tougher than you thought they would be.

Key concept #1:  When you believe things are impossible, they definitely are – for you!  Henry Ford famously said: “Whether you think you can or you think you cannot, you are right!”  And of course HE was right!  If you curl up in a ball, or throw up your arms and declare the situation to be hopeless, it IS hopeless.

Once you determine that you CAN succeed, you have to figure out how to do that, which leads directly to key concept #2.

Key concept #2:  If you get better at the ACTUAL SKILL you are trying to improve, the results will definitely follow.  But when you chase results, it always catches up with you and you come crashing down.  This is a HUGE lesson that I learned as a youth.  I was a chess player in High School and wanted to get a nice high rating.  I spent hours figuring out ways to “game the system”.  I could arrange matches against people I knew to be over-rated; therefore, when I had good results against them I would disproportionately improve my own rating.  Well that works out quite well – but doesn’t ACTUALLY improve my SKILL.  I learned that when I found myself with a too-high rating and getting crushed without understanding why.

When my focus shifted to actually improving my game, without regard to rating, I established the kind of base that would yield results.  This is the same with athletic (or any other pursuit).  The bottom line is that my best path to qualifying for the World Championships is not to figure out opponents and their weaknesses, but rather to actually improve my ability to swim, bike, and run efficiently and faster!  And of course that’s what I’m doing.

You can do that too -build the best engine you can – focus internally – and the results will surely come.  My coach has said “Trust your training, trust your coach, trust your taper, trust your nutrition.”  Those are the things you can control that get you ready – the results will follow!

In Part 2 we are going to discuss Attitude during individual training sessions and how it makes the impossible possible.

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