Monday, February 23, 2009

That Girl

The other day someone was asking me how I “let go”. They were getting caught up in comparing themselves to everyone else out there who always seems to be having a much better go of things, doing everything faster, better, stronger...

Isn’t that always the case?

Reader Beware: you can get caught up in the web of blogs, Facebook and twitting. Every is always nailing their workout, going 2 minutes per mile faster than us and doing it all on nothing but a saltine. Awesome! Sign me up for that training plan. Makes the rest of us feel like complete slugs as we slog away at 12 mph in our basement while keeping up with the Kardashian’s.

Nothing so awesome about that.

But that’s just the way a lot of that stuff reads. Everyone is doing more than us, doing it more often, doing it faster, doing it better, doing it sexier than anyone else. I look at Facebook and even I feel like a slug. 2 x 20 minutes at FTP? Jeez! If you want to scare me fill a paper bag with air and pop it in front of my face. No need to include the letters FTP in that. I’m trashed, I’m killing myself, I’m blah blah…what it all really boils down to in our heads is:


(even though that’s not what they’re saying)

But I bet that’s how it makes some people feel.

Truth be told. I really don’t read blogs. Not anymore. Why? There are a few reasons. None of which have anything to do with you.

It’s not you. It’s me.

I’m just…not that into you. Why? Because when it come to my workouts, my races, my goals…I’m totally into ME!

I learned a long time ago that my time is time much better spent on myself. What someone else does on any given day at their given speed for their given goals is great…for them. But has nothing to do with me. Forums, Facebook, websites, blogs – all of this is fun to read but can be a big drain of our personal energy, emotion and time. Sure, there are funny stories and random tidbits out there but for the time involved and the risk to myself, I have found it more worthwhile to fill my head with something else. For this reason I am very selective about what I read. And I take EVERYTHING I read with a tablespoon of salt.

(because one grain just ain’t enough for some of what is out there)

I put myself on this diet because I was getting fat on blogs. Reading them all and feeding (and fattening) my inner critic. Totally unnecessary. There are enough sources of doubt and stress in the world for me to add to it with a steady serving of blah blah each day. And all of it was just adding to my mental chatter, the comparisons (I want to be THAT girl), the wondering am I doing enough, is this the right thing and should I trust myself?

One thing was certain: I would not find the answer to any of those questions on any blog. No matter how many I read.

Instead, I’ve learned to fill my head with stuff that is good for me. What is good for me? Sometimes books, real life conversations, sometimes just thoughts about myself. Anything else that I put in my head just becomes mental chatter in the space between myself and my goals.

And chatter – last I checked - does not make you fast.

Who is responsible for this mental chatter? Hello, it’s your inner critic calling. Ring ring ring…..self-doubt here. Your inner critic thrives on self-doubt. Eats it right up and stores it smack on your ass. So you have two choices in what you do: feed the inner critic or feed your true self. Remember, the critic will get fat on their own! You never have to feed them. But if you starve them off the main sources, the critic will – in time – go away.

In time, what you believe will become truth. If someone asked me what the single most important factor for success in any athlete’s training plan was I would say: TRUST. You’ve got to believe. In yourself, in the training plan, in your coach. If you spend your day looking for reasons why it won’t work, doubting the plan or fighting yourself, I promise you will sabotage even the best plan.


Trusting means just doing the work and turning everything else away. Don’t go sabotage a good swim by comparing yourself to someone else’s good swim. Don’t stop being excited about breaking 9:00 miles because you read about someone’s 6:45s. Don’t look at your training plan that you pay a coach to put together and then read someone else’s blog about this awesome workout they did and so you then tell your coach:


No, you probably don’t. You need to do what has been planned for you by someone who has taken the time to know you and is working to bring out the best in you. Your role in this: focus on being the best version of yourself, disregard everything else.

I know I keep a blog so it’s crazy talk to hear me say “I don’t read blogs”. But if no one or everyone reads my blog – it's irrelevant to me. It’s my diary where I process my experiences and in sharing them hope someone that enjoys reading might learn something. I’m not saying you should read my blog or should not read or whatever. I’m just saying that reading too many blogs was not good for me. The more I read blogs, the more I start to compare myself and that doesn’t do me much good.

Because I’m not anyone else but me.

Is this selfish? Probably. But…who cares? When I am out there racing on a course no one else but my head will get me to the finish line. Not what anyone else says nor what they did in a workout will help me bring out any more of myself. It’s all…me. The longer you go in the race, the more the race is in your head. Think about Ironman. Sure, you’ll have many spectators and short conversations throughout the day but in the end the only one that will talk to you the entire time is…


So what is in your head and what you put into your head – you should be very selective about. It’s like what you eat! You wouldn’t fill yourself with ding-dongs all day and expect to have good workouts, eh? Treat what you put into your head the same way. If you read stuff that always brings you down or makes you compare or makes you doubt yourself…

Psssst: stop reading.

Sometimes blogs remind me of a gaper’s delay. Know what that is? It’s when you’re driving down the highway and the traffic slows because of something else going on in the other lanes. People slow down to get a peek at what happened. The feeling of “I need to know what’s going on” or the thrill of “what if I see something really freaky?” makes us turn our head. But how many times do you really get something you need? Sometimes you see something really freaky or you see some guy on the side of the road changing his tire. In either case – are you any better for taking the time and energy to turn your head? Chances are if you saw something really freaky you then get disturbed and lose sleep. And if you saw the guy changing his tire…well then…great.

In life we are limited by two things: time and energy. Spend both wisely. And only read, affiliate with or engage in things that keep you moving in a forward direction. Know that you don’t have to turn your head. You can keep your eyes forward, look at the road ahead, know where you are going and focus intently on the task of getting there.

I like blogs, I like blogland and keeping a blog has been a positive experience for me. But sometimes it is good to step away and fill your head with something else. Read your own story. Write your own ending. Be that girl. And get obsessed with yourself.


Shan said...

I realize I should not be commenting since I shouldn't have read the whole post ;), but THANK YOU!!! I've had to take time off from tri's this year (at least until July) because I'm trying to finish my PhD, and it's been rather dreadful reading about everyone training and getting fit and looking slim, gorgeous...ack!!!! Time to focus on me and the things I need to accomplish right again, THANKS!!!! :)

Anonymous said...

Yep... and thanks for not letting me be the only one on a lowcal blogger diet :-) BUT of course I read yours - so I guess I don't have much self control!

Jenna said...

Great Post!! You have a way with words - I enjoy coming here.... always learning something new (or being entertained anyways - and since it is here or the online dating sites - my best bet is on this one :)

cat. said...

i call it "comparing your insides to other peoples' outsides".

you'll *always* come up short.

[knowing that doesn't necessarily make it stop, but it sure is a good reminder!]

Alili said...

I am better than the me of last year. :)

BreeWee said...

Gotta confess, there is a handful of blogs that I try to catch every week or two because triathlon is such a "here I am running/swimming/biking solo again" and the darn blogs sometimes make me feel not so alone in this solo sport. AND so many of you have become "friends".

Anyways, I can totally relate... Hillary Biscay is one of my favorites and when I read her running 4hrs I want to run 4hrs, BUT hell, I barely survive 3 :) It makes it all fun though...

Liz I totally hope to see you at races this season, you and Chris should come to Hawaii and we can make a camp with Rachel...

Enjoy your bloggy diet.

LizN said...

From another Liz - best blog post I've read all year. I got put onto your blog by someone on Facebook and glad I took the time to check you out.

Best with your training, enjoy it and live your dream.
Liz N

Pam said...

I loved this post! Thanks!

ADC said...

Nice post. I am rtying to be more like that - we shall see :-)

Wes said...

Yea, I really like this too. It's the long way of saying, be comfortable in your own skin. :-)

kerri said...

YAHooo...well said. It's not selfish just keeping sanity. There's only so much one can indulge in in the world of triathlon. Have been on the diet for a while and it feels great. Love your candidness.

E said...

i SO needed to read this post this morning. i am very new to triathlons, and am a newbie runner and cyclist. i've gotten in the habit of reading a lot of blogs and having facebook friends that are triathletes, and while in the beginning this was great as a resource and inspiration, lately, i've found myself constantly comparing myself to others, and beating myself up wondering why i'm not as fast, why i'm not having the same results, etc. i start feeling SO badly about myself and envious of others- when i know i should feel so proud of my accomplishments so far, and ecstatic about the fact that i'm improving and doing things i never thought i could do. i really need to return the focus to "me" and worry about myself and not what everyone else is doing. i can't thank you enough for your post today (although i'm still envious of your athletes for having such a grounded, self-aware and well-spoken coach!) thanks again.

Eileen Swanson said...

WOOHOO, well said! Totally agree and now I need to write you, check email later ;-)) Thanks ELF!!

Jessi said...

I always called it "lookie-lou traffic." Gaper's delay sounds much cooler.

Molly said...

Well said :) I will try not to stress too much about how everyone else seems to be swimming so much more than me LOL

Susi said...

Thank you.

Ben said...

First time reader, friend of Jen Harrison here. There is so much truth in this.

TRI-james said...

Wow - You write so much better than I do.