As I looked between my dairy/daily schedule and at training peaks one day I mumbled aloud that I had to squeeze in a swim and that I had to get on my bike for 3 hours at the weekend.
My 9 year old looked at me stoically and said “no mum, you don’t actually HAVE to “.
So what did I mean and why do I think of my training as a something that is not an option but an Absolute must that cannot be questioned?
I have thought about this a lot since. Priorities, our wants and needs. Of course he was right, no one was holing a gun to my head, the world wouldn’t end if I didn’t swim and it wasn’t like I was going to take a salary cut if I didn’t ride my bike for 3 hours.
As a physiotherapist I tell people almost daily that it’s ok to miss a session through injury or fatigue, that it’s not going to make a difference to the end goal to take a bit of time out to heal and get stronger. And I know that on a physiological level, sometimes psychological, that this advice is right.
But what about on a day to day basis, when injury and fatigue are thankfully nothing but a distant memory — why do I consider my training sessions a must?
Well, here’s what I think. I need to do every session that I possibly can. Is it because I am obsessive? Possibly. Is it because I am a little crazy? Definitely not. Is it because I am rational, organised and committed? Definitely yes.
At the end of each year I reflect and choose my goals for the season ahead. Sometimes they can be transient, as on the way I get I lost and find another goal, but once I am finally decided I commit to making it happen.
I have a brilliant coach who helps me work towards these goals by providing me with a plan to follow. The sessions that he sets me work on both my strengths and weaknesses to move me closer to my end goal. This approach works for anyone. But there is of course a tiny caveat, a coach cannot achieve my goals for me, they are after all, mine.
To make a dream a reality I have to work hard. I have to follow the sessions I am set, eat well, rest and practice becoming focused and mentally strong. And yes I really do have to. Because although the world will still turn, although I will not suddenly drop down dead, I will suffer if I don’t fulfil my obligations to myself. I will berate myself, I will feel cross, disappointed, my fitness and strength will decline and the risk of injury if I decide to race will increase. The chance of me failing is high.
You see it is hard for some people to understand that wanting to achieve something means committing. Committing means I take ownership of my goals and I plan accordingly. Missing an odd session is not a problem, consistently missing sessions because I don not plan and prioritise is a disaster. It is not a recipe for success. What we do daily, we become. Consistency is key.
Why should sport be any different to anything else in life such as attaining a MSc, passing a driving test, writing a book? All require hard work, planning, commitment and usually a time frame. People never question someone who has a deadline to meet at work or an exam to pass. Maybe its because my sport is my hobby and not my occupation that others struggle to understand that I am driven and committed ( and maybe a little obsessed).
So I look at my training plan, I shuffle my life around and I make those sessions happen. I have a duty to myself, to fulfil the contract I have made with myself, to try my absolute best to be my best. So yes, I really do have to.