Margins, expectations and perspective.
I actually wrote some of this short blog in reverse as I started to get some clarity on a very mixed morning. I am not sure what purpose it will serve other than knowing that on this occasion it’s intended to make me feel better! I’ve had a great weeks training. Hard but good, and although there are probably a handful of reasons why my session didn’t go to plan, the overriding harsh reality is that today the margins just felt too fine.
As we progress in our training and over time get faster, many people think rowing gets easier. It doesn’t. The margins get smaller and the effort required to improve gets much greater. I’m now in a place where I know what I can achieve and what I’m currently training for, but the margins I’m working with mean that timing is fundamental to success. Mind and body need to align. I thought that today was the day, but only a very short way into a time trial reality hit and I realised it wasn’t to be.
The reason TT’s can be so hard mentally is because we have an element of expectation, usually as a combined result of factors such as past performances, certain personality traits and what we perceive others expect from us (the latter to a lesser extent in my case). This creates added pressure, often taking the anticipation, stress and expectation past the point of being productive. If at any point we have the thought that our target isn’t achievable like I did today, we leap ahead in our thinking to the end of the session where we perceive failure in all it’s ugly glory, with every negative emotion that goes with it. So we decide to stop…because what’s the point? May as well feel crap without the effort! Without those expectations however, we’re much more able to carry on regardless, step into the unknown and see what lies ahead. The vast majority of these processes are subconscious.
When I stopped I was angry, really angry. Something which I rarely am because it doesn’t work for me. A quick check in with my inner sports psychologist simply told me ‘Do not dwell’. That was going to be hard. In many ways harder than the training I have completed this week! The easiest option would have been to walk inside and sulk for the rest of the day, but that wouldn’t be fair on my family. So instead I attempted to move on and jumped on my trusty alternative, the Wattbike and dispatched myself accordingly with a 6 x 5000m (rest 2m) session. That made me feel a little better, because as punishing as it sounds I actually find it very rewarding.
Being passionate and caring about things as much as we do most of the time drives us forward, but caring too much can really hurt when things don’t fall into place. Nobody died today and this effort will clearly keep for another day. I know this. It’s important to me yes, but in the grand scheme of things it’s very much a #firstworldproblem. When I walked back into the house and my son Zach said ‘I love you Dad’ I was instantly reminded of what really matters. That’s what’s important. That’s persepctive…I will live to train another day.