NV Games Race Recap- Part 1 of 2- Before the Race-Getting Oxygen

Woman Wearing Oxygen Mask
Take something for granted, typically what happens. It goes or gets taken away.

That is exactly what happened to me. I was stronger and getting faster than I have ever been, and then….unexpected surgery in February (an outpatient fairly routine surgery mind you) resulted in my body, going on strike. I will not go into details, but leading up to and after surgery my running was put from fast forward, to ground zero. I was starting over.

Running was no longer easy. It was hard. My strength was gone. Training was mental kick in the teeth. Every workout was hard. Trying to remain positive and upbeat was difficult. I have a fantastic Coach (yes Coaches need a Coach too), loving family, good friends, and supportive teammates, but I kept my misery quiet. I had to fight this battle, my way, privately.

This was to be a big year of firsts for me. Instead it started out to be the big year of DNS’s.

The biggest thing that happened to me during this time after surgery was an attitude or well, “life”, adjustment. A big one. I was stressed, to the max. Everyone and everything wanted more and more of me and I had increasingly less of me to give due to the increased demands. I was burning the candle at all 6 ends.

Someone one day asked me how I was, and for the first time, this was someone who asked the question and sincerely wanted to hear the answer, not just a canned “fine”. Not to hear me say “fine” and then turn me into their personal therapist, but someone, who truly wanted to know and truly, listened. I unloaded. Boy did I ever unload. They told me something that I will never forget “you have to put your oxygen mask on yourself, before you help someone else with theirs”. She said “you can’t breathe because you are giving all your air to everyone else”. I heard what she said, but didn’t take it in. She also told me “people will never respect you until you respect yourself first, you are basically letting people disrespect you, and it is ok. No, it is not ok”. I heard her but it didn’t hit or sink in for a while.

I got up one morning, came downstairs, and poured a cup of coffee. Checked my phone just as a text message came across. Went to the bathroom (TMI here, but for the first time didn’t take my phone with me). When I came out of the bathroom I had a text message, a private message on Facebook, and a Twitter direct message all blasting me for the lack of response to the text that was sent. The span of time had been….18 seconds. Seconds. Bear in mind the nature of the text was a general greeting, not a 911 emergency. Wow. And this isn’t the first time this happened, and it happens from different people. All. The. Time. It stressed me completely out. It was happening daily. And sadly, I did this to myself. I allowed people to have unrealistic expectations. It was ok to demand my undivided attention 24/7/365. I worried too much about being available and making others happy, that I myself, had become completely miserable.

So I stepped back and day by day started giving myself some oxygen. It wasn’t easy. My family supported me. A lot of people didn’t like it. They still don’t.

The irony, one result of my surgery was for me to be able to breathe, my oxygen intake would be so much better. My doctor’s said my athletic performance was going to show dramatic improvement with this. Funny. It didn’t improve from the surgery as we had all thought. It didn’t start happening, until the one morning I got up and the first thing I did was put my oxygen mask on first.

Stay tuned for Part 2: NV Games 5k Race Recap

Identifying Energy Expenditures and finding Balance in Your Life

vaseHow many Vases do you have?

Vases can add beauty to your life. A vase with fresh flowers can brighten a room, lift a spirit. Some vases come to us bearing special meaning or sentimental value.

Then there are vases that have a tiny hole in the bottom, so no matter how much water you put in them, it is never enough.
You can venture to guess where I am headed with this. How many vases with holes in the bottom do you have in your life, and do you know when to stop trying to fill them up before you get dried out? How do you find balance on just how much of your water to give to each vase?

Water is your energy. Vases symbolize work, tasks, training, races, friends, family, and school, among many other things. Basically, anything that takes your energy is a vase.

Look at your life. What vases brighten your day, lift your spirit, support and enhance your life? What vases require energy, that you give and then more is demanded each time, or worse yet, it is never enough? These vases drain you. They do not enhance your life. Identifying these differences can help you to find and realign balance in your life.

Some examples below to just get you thinking, but not all inclusive:

Work. Big deadlines, short staffed. You work through lunch, and extra hours. Are you appreciated and rewarded or is this now expected and/or more extra time demanded?

Races/Training. Do you enjoy training, find yourself happy, energized relishing race day? Are you over training, racing too much, or training for something that is just too big to fit in your life (this is a hard one to realize, you may have the physical ability, but not the time required to train/race)?

Friends. Do they bring joy, laughter and support to your life? Do they demand so much attention that they demand more and more attention and enough, is never enough?

Once you identify your vases. You have to make an important decision on the ones with holes. How much water (energy) are you willing to give so you do not dry out (exhaust) yourself? This can be a difficult decision. Sometimes it takes a lot of evaluation on what you need for balance in your life. It can also cause negative reactions as you pull back your energy and things/people around you adjust. Just remember in the end, you are doing this for a happier, more balanced life.
Coach Kristie


Perfectionism and the Athlete

perfectionismThe Webster’s Dictionary defines a perfectionist as: someone who will not accept or be content with anything less than perfection.

Perfectionists tend to have unrealistically high expectations about themselves, others and life in general. They also become acutely aware and over concerned with tiny flaws and mistakes in themselves, others, and achievements. Using so much energy to focus on what’s wrong and discounting what is right. Perfectionism leads those to believe nothing is ever good enough.

Perfectionism is a HUGE common denominator in low self-esteem and drives people to the point of chronic stress, exhaustion, and burnout. Imagine a perfectionist who is an athlete.

Perfectionism and racing/training can be a volatile combination. Here are some tips that can help a perfectionist to recognize and shift to a more positive and productive way of thinking:

o The idea that races and accomplishments are a measure of self-worth, has to be let go. Think long and hard about this. People in someone’s life accept and love them not because they have a full medal rack on their wall, raced a certain distance, raced within a certain finish time, but for their love and wisdom. Accomplishments are not “who” you are but rather “what you have done”. Focus on “who” you are, not “what you have done”.

o Don’t blow up negatives and harp on them continuously. Perfectionists tend to selectively ignore the positives and dwell on negatives, no matter how small and insignificant, at the end of the day, think about the positives. Perfectionists tend to even create negative situations out of positive because they dwell in the negative so much they don’t know how to react or behave in a positive environment. Don’t negate a positive. For example “I had a great run, but it wasn’t at the pace I wanted”. Positive leads to positive and positive breeds positive. The same goes for negativity.

o Think about goals. Are they realistic? Are you reaching for the stars in another galaxy? Are you determined to do a race distance that you don’t have the time or ability to train for? Determined to finish in an amount of time that is a huge stretch even given perfect race and training conditions? Is your goal realistic? Set yourself up for success, not failure, by setting goals you can achieve.

o Do something every day you enjoy. Plain and simple. Perfectionists tend to be self-denying. If external goals and everyday life experience expectations are so high that there is no pleasure or enjoyment, allow time for fun. Do not seek out the negative, seek out the positive. HAVE FUN.

o In racing and training is it “win/finish in a time/PR/place high at all costs” or do you allow yourself to have fun? A popular quote comes to mind “The journey is more important than the destination”.

o Focusing on “keeping up with the Joneses” and not focusing on and celebrating your own improvements and successes can cause someone to lose sight of the positive in their training and accomplishments. This leads to unhappiness, and often times in training/racing burnout and injury.

Perfectionism, when identified, can be overcome. It takes a change in how someone views themselves, and others, but it can be overcome. More severe situations may take the assistance of a counselor or therapist.

If you see the perfectionist trait in yourself, take a moment and reflect. See how you can turn it around and find the positives and success in yourself, others, racing, training, and life in general. Don’t set yourself and others up for failure, but instead, focus on the positives. Allow yourself to be happy. That, is success.
Coach Kristie