Getting In the Mindset

This past weekend I ran the Colfax 10 miler. There’s a marathon and half marathon distance as well, but due to minimal training and schedule, I opted for 10 miles instead of 13.1 miles, which is what I had originally planned to do. Sometimes when I’m right on the edge of doing something like this, part of me says “Nope. Not yet. Just wait till you are better prepared.” Then there’s another side of me that I listen to more often that says “Sure, you might not do it as fast as you want, but you need this to check your head space and see how your body responds. Go for it. Take the chance. This isn’t the time to be normal.”

So I gave in and did the race.

Did I mention part of the running route went through Mile High Stadium?? Go Broncos!

Spence_Smith_Running_Mile_High_Stadium_Colfax_10miler_Broncos
The day was awesome. I had a good plan going in and felt confident with the plan. At any time I knew that if I got injured then I could grab a cab, go to my truck and go home. But the plan was simple. Run easy, listen to your body, take time to evaluate where you are in your head and most of all… have fun!

And that’s what I did! I had a blast and ran injury free.

You see, I’m walking into a season where everything with meeting my 2015 goals for triathlon get more intense – right now. I have one year to be in a much different place as an athlete and I will get there. Part of running the race this past weekend was all about me getting my head in the game.

Getting my head in the game is all about changing my mindset. I’m going to be writing on Getting in the Mindset more often as it pertains to so much of what we do in life. I use this thought process when I’m spending the day going over social media strategy and strengths with people. I will unpack the process in later posts.

For me, getting in the mindset to train for some big races next year takes totally immersing myself in the experience. Running this most recent race was one way for me to dive in. As I ran, I watched all of these runners who have been training day after day to beat their personal record. I watched as friends and family cheered them on. I watched as some people ran the one race that was on their bucket list. I got it. I saw it and I experienced it just like so many other times before. I caught the vision even more for what I want out of this and I can see it in my sights.

Getting in this mindset takes on the roll of being part of my every day life. Not something “I have to go do”. Not something that is an add on to my day or my life. But it is part of my life. What I eat, when I sleep, how I schedule my day and how I travel. It’s all part of the mindset.

You know what this is like right? When you have your eyes on a goal. It’s stuck in your head weaving it’s way in and out of your life right? It’s where getting in the mindset begins and for me, the mental side of it is the foundation to achieving the goals I want to meet.

When you know you need to get mentally ready for something, how do you get in the mindset you need to accomplish your goal? 

The Road To Crockett Park Is Paved With Change

Last week, while in Nashville for meetings, I went for a run on one of my old running trails. This one is special. It starts at the soccer fields at the Brentwood YMCA and goes all the way back to Crockett Park.

You see, when I first started running here it was 2005. I was going through one of the most difficult parts of my life and I needed to find a way to rebuild my life and rediscover who I was and who I really needed to be. Little did I know that this same little route would be the place that helped me start that journey.

Crockett_Park
I ran this route every tuesday and thursday morning for almost two years with the same group of people. At the time, I had only competed in one half marathon and wouldn’t even call myself a runner. But I seemed to really like it and I loved how I felt after a run. My mind was clear. I felt focused. I felt energized and ready to conquer anything that came my way.

It was on this road I took time for me. I took the time to process my life and the direction I wanted to go. It was here where I regained confidence in myself and changed the way I thought about life. It was here where I set goals and met goals. It was here where I learned more about my failures. It was here where I started to redefine me. And yet… I didn’t start out running this route with any of that in mind. I just wanted to run and get healthy.

What I didn’t know about getting healthy was it had less to do with the physical part of my life (although my body changed a lot) but affected the health of my mind and soul more than I could have ever imagined.

It changed me. Forever.

This road was also where I decided to get into swimming which led to triathlon and started the road to Ironman. A journey and accomplishment that took redefining me to a whole other level.

Sometimes we walk into situations thinking one thing and never expect to walk out with a completely different and better outcome than expected. It’s one of those little nuggets in life we get from time to time to inspire us to keep going in the right direction.

When I come back to Nashville and run this route, it’s always filled with great memories. Even the hard stuff I had to work through while running this route ends knowing I’m on the other side of it now.

Have I stopped changing? no. I continue on making small changes here and there. Always looking for places in my life to improve. I still have a long ways to go, a lot of miles to run and will continue to look forward as I go, but I never forget my past and where I’ve come from.

I’m Alive In The Age Of Worry… Are You?

Yesterday I was out for a run. Had my headphones in and my iPod on listening to songs that would keep me moving a little faster than I felt like going.

In my list are a few John Mayer songs and I had just put some songs in my list from his newest album Born and Raised… which I love. The lyrics I put below are to the 2nd song on the album. It’s called The Age Of Worry. I had listened to this song a lot but didn’t pay as close of attention to the lyrics as I did on the run.

A couple of things I thought of when I listened more closely to this song.

  • I love how John Mayer has been writing songs that show us what he has been learning and experience in his life as he gets older. He has come a long way from Your Body Is A Wonderland to War Of My Life.
  • The Age of Worry is a huge reminder that we are always going to have some worry in our lives, but we shouldn’t let it consume our lives. Some of us will have more than others. I know people who worry so much that it cripples their ability to think reasonably and keeps them from living a full life. They worry so much that the stress of it all impairs their health and relationships and leaves them completely unfulfilled in life.

This song wraps it up so well… yes, we are in an age of worry and we put ourselves in situation that cause worry. As long as there is worry in our lives lets call it for what it is, face it and let worry know… why should I care about you? I’m done with you… get out of here. If you haven’t heard this song… go download it. Read these lyrics and know… we can over come the worry in our lives and turn it around. We can make better decisions that lead us to less worry and put ourselves in situations that decrease worry along the way.

 “The Age Of Worry”

by

John Mayer from the album Born And Raised

Close your eyes and clone yourself
Build your heart an army
To defend your innocence
While you do everything wrong

Don’t be scared to walk alone
Don’t be scared to like it
There’s no time that you must be home
So sleep where darkness falls

Alive in the age of worry
Smile in the age of worry
Go wild in the age of worry
And say, “Worry, why should I care?”

Know your fight is not with them
Yours is with your time here
Dream your dreams but don’t pretend
Make friends with what you are

Give your heart then change your mind
You’re allowed to do it
‘Cause God knows it’s been done to you
And somehow you got through it

Alive in the age of worry
Rage in the age of worry
Sing out in the age of worry
And say, “Worry, why should I care?”

Rage in the age of worry
Act your age in the age of worry
And say, “Worry, get out of here!”

Meeting Goals Through A Series Of Challenges

I don’t know about you but the older I get, the more I need to set goals and challenge myself more in the process of meeting my goals. When I’m setting goals through out the year, I tend to think of my year in seasons. Yes… I know we have four seasons of the year but I mean season like this…

For work… the fall touring season leading into Christmas, spring touring season and summer. Fall and Spring tour seasons are packet with travel out on tours and summer is the slow time.

For Family… School season, Holidays, Spring break and the summer break. Our families year revolves around school schedule.

For Triathlon… May thru September is race season for me. October – April is some form of off season and half marathon or 5k/10k season.

So as the seasons go, I set up different goals for myself in these different areas of my life along with a few challenges that help me get to my goal. When I get to my goal…I feel like I’ve conquered an impossible climb up a mountain.

Honestly, this could be in any area of my life. Family, spiritual, relationships, work, hobbies… no matter, all of these areas in my life seem to ebb and flow in their own seasons.

The physical foundation of this for me is in endurance sports… triathlons, long distance cycling or running.  After doing this for years, I’ve finally figured out how I want to challenge myself during what most people would refer to as the off season of triathlon.

Here’s what I’ve come to learn.

I can set goals for myself, but if I don’t challenge myself in meeting those goals then what’s the point of the goal in the first place? I don’t learn anything along the way and I most certainly will fail in meeting my goal.

Sounds logical right?

Lets take a deeper look. I want to improve my 5K, 10K and Half Marathon times over the next 7 months. By the 8th month I want to have established a more firm foundation in my running and overall health. That way when I get into triathlon season, my weakest sport of the three, which is running, will be much stronger and will help me with my race goals for that season.

That’s my overall goal. But to get there I need to challenge myself in a few areas.

  • Nutrition. My diet still needs to change so that I’m taking in mostly proteins, fruits and vegetables along with cutting out processed foods and unnecessary carbs. Not very easy for me. So I know this is going to be a challenge. If I conquer the challenge, I will be one step closer to hitting my goal.
  • Consistency. Since moving to Colorado, my running schedule has been inconsistent. This has been a challenge for me with moving to a new city, getting married and becoming a step dad all in the same year. If I conquer this challenge, I will be one step closer to my goal.
  • Cross Training. Luckily for me, triathlon feels like one big cross training sport. Swim, bike and run. It doesn’t get much better than that. Where I Have failed in all of this is not adding strength training into the mix. Stronger core and overall increased muscle strength not only shed the pounds but add to having a solid foundation for endurance. This has always been a challenge for me. If I conquer the challenge, I will be one step closer to hitting my goal.
  • Race. Not just one big race but a few races along the way. When it comes to triathlon. I typically will have an “A” race. This is the big race I’m training for but along the way, I will have several smaller less important races to get me there. Setting up a few races along the way help me to gauge my progress and set smaller goals to hit during the race. Each race meets a specific purpose in the scoop of the bigger picture. This has been a challenge for me as well in that every race also comes with different situations to overcome. If I conquer the challenge, I will be one step closer to hitting my goal.

As I look at the rest of my life. I see many goals I need to achieve, but also many challenges to get there. Positive challenges… but they are still challenges I need to work through. Right now, what I’m learning about my goals for a faster and healthier me are helping me to plan goals and challenge myself personally and professionally. I need to feed myself healthy habits I can be consistent with in a diverse life that allows me reach my end goal.

How are you setting your goals up for success? Do you feel challenge and what do you expect to learn about yourself in the process?

The Unexpected Accountability Of Running With A Group Of Women

Running on my own had been hit or miss when I first started running, but put me with a group of people I can run with on a regular basis and I’m there.

When I went through my divorce in 2005, I found myself needing consistency. I enjoyed running, didn’t love it at the time, but I needed to do something to keep my active and get out of the house a bit.

I walked into the YMCA I was a member of and saw Running Group 9am Tuesday and Thursday at the Brentwood Y. I knew running with a group of people would do a couple of things for me.

  1. I would meet a new community of people to engage and get to know.
  2. A group run would give me something to look forward to when I wasn’t traveling.

So I went.

I showed up and walked into a room where I was told everyone met before the run. Upon walking into the room, I noticed I had just walked into a room of about 20 women. Before I could turn around and walk out, because obviously I though I was in the wrong room, a lady shouted out to me “Hey!!! Are you here for the running group?”

“Ummm. Yes?” I replied.

“GREAT!!! What’s your name?? We are just about to head out!” She said.

So I ran… not quite like Forrest… But I WAS RUNNING.

Little did I know, I would run for almost two years with the same group of ladies. Little did I know they would look out for me. Little did I know they would be so encouraging and just the community I needed at the time.

On the very first run, the leader of the group said… “So tell me your story.” And for the next half mile I talked… which I sucked at. Running and talking wasn’t something I did well. So my story was the very short version.

“I just went through a divorce, I like to run, I travel a ton, help kids who live in poverty and I need a group to run with.”

I loved it. These ladies were awesome. All of them where married and most were moms. The reason I was the only guy was all of their husbands were working and since I worked from home and had a flexible schedule…. I was the one guy who ran with them. For whatever reason… I felt safe with them.

I learned a lot those two years but mostly, I learned that friendships grown through a running group where valuable and friendships in running groups held you accountable to running.

These ladies shared a lot of their struggles with each other and I mostly listened… again I sucked at running and talking.

One of my favorites in the group was a lady named Kathie. She was always a great conversation, always had great things to say and was always willing to give great advice. She could fill a whole run with great conversation.

It was here… running with this group of women, that I wanted to be a better, healthier version of me. I had been running… sort of… for a couple of years already and had completed my first half marathon. But it was here that I wanted to do more for my mind and body.

Every time I finished a run, I felt more focused and ready for the day… and encouraged from the conversations we had.

I owe a lot to these ladies. They talked to me about divorce, family, life… and on occasion tried to fix me up on dates, which I never went for.

One day while running with the ladies I decided to join a swimming group, originally to help expand my lung capacity for running which i later found out wasn’t an accurate wish, I want to be able to keep up with their faster paces.

Little did I know that just showing up for group runs was just the accountability I needed. Little did I know I would look so forward to the conversations we had… little did I know that by one day joining that swim group so I could be a faster runner with the girls, that I would eventually complete an Ironman… much less 25 triathlons, a marathon, numerous half marathons, 5k’s and 10k’s.

If it’s accountability you need to get the job done in your running shoes. Then find it. Even if it’s one other friend you can meet with on a consistent basis. My wife met one of her best friends in a running group. Now they walk through life together.

I know some of us think of accountability in terms life struggles, but in terms of finding accountability for goals you are trying to achieve, how do you go about it? Do you have a person or a group that helps you stay accountable to sticking with it?