More Than A Race Recap: The Win Was All In My Head

It was all in my head. Seriously. Last Sunday’s Ironman Vineman 70.3 was a wonderful day at the races. I won my age group. I worked hard all day, stayed on task and broke my time from the same race one year before, where I won with a slower time. I’d been training hard, but in a balanced way; focused sessions and not too many of them, adequate rest and stretching as a part of my regime (it only took me 41 years and two injuries to add it to my own routine, despite knowing better all along) and maintaining the Paleo regime I’ve followed for close to 15 years now. The fat-adaption process I began a few years back but really took to a new level last season is something I still continue to make a part of my daily regime; it serves me well day in and day out, through training, racing and life in general. So what was different? My focus. Where my mind was, where my energy was directed. It may sound like something you’ve heard before and it was for me, too, but it wasn’t until the start of 2016 that I really began to understand what this really means. At the beginning of 2016, I began implementing something in my life, at first to achieve better focus in terms of where I wanted to go with my career, my brand and my nutrition practice. It was something I’d tried many, many times before but it never felt right; always seemed as though it wasn’t for me or I wasn’t able to do it, aside from when I was running. I’m referring to meditation. For years, I’d tried to sit in mediation and my busy mind would get the better of me. In retrospect, I believe I actually trained myself to believe I couldn’t sit still and that the only way I’d even get close to meditation was to run. But back in January something clicked. I began working with a meditation teacher / results coach / mentor (and more, to say the least) and through her guided imagery techniques, mediation, and simply putting into practice what I’d been reading about, I began to experience it for the first time. “It” being going within, focusing on the breath and learning to allow all the uninvited thoughts to pass, even evaporate, as easily as they arrived. For so long, I’d heard of people meditating and thought I simply couldn’t do that; I’d try this technique or that and always come back to the same conclusion- it just wasn’t for me. But when, at the end of last year, I reached a point of not feeling fulfilled each and every day and not really knowing why, it was time for a change. In addition to the work I started to do with meditation, I began to read about it. In particular, the work of Joe Dispenza struck a chord with me. A scientist trained in neurology, neuroscience, brain function and chemistry, cellular biology, memory formation, and aging and longevity, he’s written two books and has done numerous talks, lectures. seminars and workshops all over the globe. I highly, highly recommend his books, and then I recommend them some more. His ability to present how the brain works in layman’s terms and how much thoughts and energy truly do dictate how our lives unfold proved to be the missing component for me and although it was hard, quite possibly the most challenging thing I’ve ever done to date, I began to dive deep into the frightening journey through the jungle of my own mind. Depending on where anyone is in their own journey, this could come across as sounding familiar or it could sound completely nuts! I get it. But to make it really simple, I just knew there was something missing in what I was doing and the only way to figure it out was to look within. There was no person to tell me what to do or what path to follow; it was all inside. After a couple of months of walking through anxiety, discomfort and unfamiliar feelings and thoughts, I landed where I am now with a clear vision of what I am doing and where I want to be. I feel present. And calm. And why am I sharing all this in a post about the race? Because although I began this process to look at where my life was going in general, the very same technique that one might use to determine a career goal can be applied to a relationship goal, a financial goal, a health goal… or a performance goal. By shifting the focus of my mediations to the race a few days prior to the event I was able to see the outcomes, feel the results and visualize in vivid detail how I wanted the day to unfold. Joe Dispenza makes a very clear argument that if we can determine our future by being stuck in the past and expecting the same old unfavorable outcomes, why not flip it and visualize positive results in the future and have those transpire instead? So I did it. I saw the time on the clock when I came out of the swim. I felt my legs working on the bike like pistons and the wind on the descent portions of the course. I kept asking myself all day long if I could push just a little harder and when the answer was yes, I did. And I ran as hard as I could, hearing the announcer say my name as I crossed the finish. And this was all before the race. So when the race unfolded as I had already experienced it, it was familiar. It’s not an easy thing to pick up and for some, it’ll easily be poo-pooed, as though it was some quirky thing that hasn’t been proven, when, in actuality, it has. It’s more than just visualizing having a nice day at the race. (I used to think that counted as mental prep for a race… it doesn’t). Of course, the physical component is tremendous; you’ve got to have the right training, the right coach, the right approach to eating and rest to support what your body is allowing you to do. But to dismiss or disregard this fundamental component not just of racing but of life in general is to build a house without a foundation. Seek out a meditation class, a meditation teacher, a book or a podcast; find your own best fit and it’s not going to be the same for everyone. Doing so will help in so many ways you never could have imagined; it certainly has for me!