Change is constant. One of the biggest mistakes that I see athletes make is trying to replicate EXACTLY what they did in the past that led to success. You are never in the exact same physical, mental and emotional state for two separate periods of time; which makes it impossible to repeat the exact same training and get the exact same result. You learn from experience the types of training that you respond to, be it speed work, high mileage, low mileage, etc. It’s important to assess what has changed over time and analyze what needs to be tweaked. This often means working on the things that you’re not good at. An outside perspective can be really helpful; a coach or friend can offer a wealth of information!
Nothing stays the same beyond the current moment. Being adaptable is something that I always preach to runners about their training and racing, but of course it is applicable to all aspects of life. We have access to so much new information that if we’re open to change we can use it to enhance our lives. It’s ok to let go of old paradigms and let something new in the door. There’s no reason to assign fear to change, it’s simply different, and sometimes not comfortable. That’s what it is supposed to be.
Uncomfortable is where growth happens. Telling someone that they need to be comfortable being uncomfortable is an easy thing to say but a much harder thing to do. We all have our habits and routines that we are comfortable with. This is also true as an athlete; you know how to capitalize on your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. But to go beyond where you’ve been before you need to challenge what you normally shy away from. That thing that you know you should do but makes you feel slightly queasy, that’s the one. This is also what keeps your competitors on their toes. They know how you operate, what defines the edge of your comfort zone. Pushing these boundaries gives you more tools to pull out of the box; it makes you a tougher opponent. So go ahead, jump into the unknown, this terrifying leap will be followed by a huge sense of accomplishment.
Acknowledge your mistakes. The sooner you are honest with yourself and acknowledge where you went wrong the sooner you can move forward. This is something that has taken me a while to learn. As a young athlete I would stubbornly block out mistakes I made that I didn’t want to own up to. Fortunately, I’ve always surrounded myself with well meaning coaches and teammates that don’t shy away from confrontation. Nothing changes until you own up to what went off track. Until then you will continue to do the same thing that produces the same result. Making mistakes doesn't make you a bad person; no one is perfect. Instead of being stubborn and making this an hours, days or week long process (yes I’ve done this, many times), own up to it, analyze what needs to change, and move on. As an older athlete I can now catch myself in this pattern and minimize the drama. Being in denial is simply wasting time. Having this new awareness will open new doors you simply weren’t seeing in the past and propel you closer to your goals.
Happy New Year!