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 Struggle For A Healthy Life Is All In My Head

The struggle for a healthy life is all in my head. It’s a mental game. At least that’s what I think it is.

I have some goals fitness goals for myself for 2014 that lead into 2015. As some of you know, when I was blogging a lot more, I would throw out my goals on my blog so that my friends who read this blog can help keep me accountable.

For years I have always been just a little heavier than I would like to be. Granted. Not a lot by comparison to some. At different times in the last few years I’ve been anywhere from 10lbs to 25 lbs heavier than I would like. Yes, I would be heavier even while swimming, biking and running. But the problem is I love to eat and when you are exercising like that, the end result is you want to eat anything put in front of you.

Healthy_LifeWell, at 43 I can’t do that like I used to. So the real struggle here isn’t getting the exercise. That part is easy. It’s choosing to eat the right foods and the right amount.

And yes, it’s a struggle for me. I grew up in the south where all things fried and fattening was the norm.

I’ve tried just about everything you can imagine to lose weight, but it does really all come down to me taking control and saying no to some things and yes to others.

Last year, I trained for the Boulder Half Ironman (70.3 Miles). Now, know that I had already raced in Ironman Louisville (140.6 Miles) in 2009. It was one of the greatest days of my life. Having had that experience, I’ve been mental tough enough for any race to come my way. However, training for Boulder 70.3 was a different story. I put in just enough training to get across the finish line… and that wasn’t enough.

When I crossed the finish line at Boulder 70.3 I had decided to change everything I was doing and start over. Yes, I was mentally tough enough to finish. But physically – even though the race was half the distance of Ironman Louisville – I felt worse than ever before. I had a better race doing a full Ironman of 140.6 miles than doing the half Ironman of 70.3 miles.

There were several factors involved in my lack of training. But the biggest is I didn’t take myself seriously enough to be where I needed to be.

So for now, no more long course ( Ironman and Half Ironman Distance ) triathlons until I’m in the place I want to be physically.

My goals for 2014 are small in number.

  • Drop my weight to below 190lbs. I’m currently at 215lbs.
  • Focus on running.
  • Compete in several 5k’s 10k’s and half marathons to improve my race times for running.

Why this combo of goals?

Of the three sports in triathlon, my worst is running. I used to hate running but now I love it. The problem is when I have this extra weight on me, it’s much harder. I am running faster in Colorado on average. But the facts are simple. I will be a more efficient and faster runner if I drop some pounds.

I will continue to swim and bike throughout the year in my training. As I drop weight, I will actually improve in these other sports as well. I’ve been at a point with swimming and biking that if I improve just a little and get faster on my run I will be set for something I want to do in 2015.

In 2015, I will start back up with racing in triathlon. But for the first time since I started doing triathlons in 2007, I will race for time and position in my age group. I want to compete on a level that will take me to USAT Age Group Nationals in either Sprint or Olympic distance races.

Those distances are really fun and by that time, I will be where I need to be to get to that goal.

It’s all a process and I’ve recognized the process has to start in my head first so that the body will follow.

It’s a great reminder that whenever we have goals or want to overcome something in our lives, it starts with wanting to do it, deciding to do it and planning out the boundaries and criteria that will help you do it.

And the body will follow.

It’s in this struggle that we can realize the power we have to do something great in our lives. I really believe that.

It’s all in my head.

Is it all in your head?

Are You Ready For 2013?

In just a couple of days, 2013 will be here and the question is…

Are you ready for 2013?

The beginning of 2013, like most beginnings of the new year brings with it new years resolutions, new commitments and renewed energy to do something different or change bad habits in to good habits.

The beginning of the year can be full of all sorts of new opportunities.

Every year, I get to this place and I try to figure out a few things and go from there.

  • What triathlon races will I compete in and which running races will I use as training bench marks.
  • What will I do differently to make my job more exciting this year than the year before.
  • What new venture can I get into that keeps my creative juices flowing.
  • What can I do to be a better me for my family and friends.

2013

Some years I’ve hit everything I wanted to accomplish (yes, it was a very small list), but I’ve found it’s ok if I don’t hit everything I want to do.

The important thing for me is to always be improving who I am and how I do things. It not only benefits me… but it really benefits those around me who have to deal with me on a daily basis.

These days, when I get ready for a new year, I don’t just think about it, I do things to put my goals in motion. I sign up for races months in advance and start getting my mind ready for what’s ahead. Wait a second what?

That’s right… I get my mind ready for what’s ahead.

For instance, on December 31, 2012 I officially start training for the 2013 triathlon season. I have races and goals I want to meet along the way. But for the past two weeks I’ve been getting my head in the game to get ready for the commitment it will take to get there.

I get all that I need to train together and organized. I start looking at training times and travel schedules and I start planning life out weeks in advance so I know what is ahead of me.

If I were to wake up on dec 31st and say “ok let’s go run now” with no plan or not even being prepared with what I need for the run, then what good am I doing myself? None at all!!

So, as you get into 2013, don’t forget to get your head in the game first. It might make the difference in success or failure for you. I know it does for me.

What are your plans for 2013?

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?

Three Goals For Any Race

Every time I run a race whether it’s a 5k, 10k, half marathon, marathon or any triathlon distance, I walk away having met three goals that keep me coming back for another race.

It’s what makes me want to improve and better myself every time I make it back to the starting line… and it’s also what helps me keep my life goals in check.

Here they are.

  1. Finish – For some of us, getting to the finish line is probably a big deal. Not to mention that getting to the starting line is a big task in it’s own right. But once we’ve started the race, it’s time for us to push through and get to the end. For some of you, this number one goal is not to just finish but to actually win the race or place well in your age group. That within itself is impressive. When someone asks me how my race went, the first thing I tell them is I finished. Because let’s face it, it’s up to us whether or not we quit in the middle of the race. For me, quitting isn’t an option, but it’s sometimes a temptation.
  2. Improve – Every time I am in a race, I’m looking to see how my training has helped me to improve in a few areas during the race. In triathlon, sometimes this is all three sports (swim, bike, run) and the two transition times. For the past two races, I’ve been focused on improving my running and nutrition during the race. Little changes have given me big results. right now these races are also showing me where I need to step it up on the swim and bike. With the running races I’ve done lately, the improvements have everything to do with form, efficiency and nutrition.
  3. Learn – Learning is key in anything with are doing right? But in racing everything little thing we experience is something we can learn from. Even down to how early or late we show up for the race. I can go back and look at my different race times and know what I could have done to shave off some time. I can learn from what I’m eating or drinking to make the next race feel better on the inside. This also applies to what I’m eating the days leading up to the race. No matter what, I’m always walking away from a race having learned something new about myself and what I could do to improve on my way to the finish line. Every learning experience is one more opportunity to help you become healthier and sometimes even faster.

Now… take all that I’ve just said and think about your life.

We have many goals in our lives. Raising a family, being a great spouse, making a good living, etc… that’s all fine and good.

But when I’m looking at my life. My overall goal looks like this.

Am I becoming a better person and learning from not only my failures but also learning from my successes? Am I learning from the good and bad choices I’ve made? Am I becoming a better person so that I can give my best to those around me?

And really… am I living the kind of life where at the end of my life either my family and friends can say… He finished life well.

You see. These three goals for any race can also apply to our lives. If I’m learning and improve on who I am as a person, it’s probably going to spill over into my physical life and the goals I set for my overall health.

How would you apply these goals to your life or to your race?