As endurance athletes, we were made for a time such as this. We dedicate so much of our lives to preparing for whatever may come. We know that not every race, certainly not every workout, is going to go exactly as planned. That is why we have learned to control the controllables. Whatever is beyond our grasp, let it come. We can handle it.
Heads Up! Links on my post are often affiliate links. That means that if you make a purchase after clicking a link here, I will earn a small commission at no additional charge to you.
Control the Controllables step 1: Pack lightly
It’s time to bust out those hydration packs, my friends. It’s a hot, humid weekend in many parts of this country and it looks like self reliance will be the name of the game this year.
And let’s be really selective about what we cram in there.
The good news is, as powerful women endurance athletes, moms, bosses, fully formed human ladies on the planet right now, we are developing the tools to meet the challenges with every single day that we wake up, take a sip of water, plant our feet, and go bipedal.
So whatever comes, whether you realized it or not, as an athlete, you have been training yourself to grow a, “Control the controllables” mindset.
I had a very Spring 2020 experience of disappointment yesterday.
I live in Northern Virginia, which has been a hot spot for the plan destroyer that shall not be named. I had been so hopeful that our outdoor pools would open soon, with reservations and lane limits and all the things, so that this family of triathletes and competitive swimmers could get back into our element.
Our community voted last night to reconsider in July.
So after indulging in some self pity about a shrinking window to train for the Ironman swim, I woke up today ready to get back to my stand-in of push-ups and TRX.
Because this is what we do! We control the controllables.
I cant worry my way into a wide open pool.
I can’t cry an entire local lake to jump into.
I cannot control the limited options for swim training right now, and neither can you! But we can work on swim specific fitness during our normal swim workouts, and focus on nailing every single run or ride.
WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH MY RACE?
There is so much speculation right now about the future of racing in 2020.
Just yesterday, the Boston Marathon went virtual for the first time in it’s 124 years.
A very perceptive friend of mine, Disney blogger and podcaster, Patty Holiday from No Guilt Disney Podcast, shared that runDisney appears to have added functionality to their website to connect your GPS device to their platform. Is it a sign of virtual race options to come?
Several race companies have published papers about the near future of racing. Self sufficiency will be key. Limited, self service aid stations, reduced or eliminated expo facilities, events without spectators.
It can feel like such a loss, right?
If you haven’t felt it yet, just spend a few minutes in any endurance event facebook group right now. The algorithm will make sure you are on the verge of giving up the sport within a few minutes.
(Uhhh…Sally, this is supposed to be a PEP talk!)
That’s because it is!
I’m here to tell you that I am feeling ALLLLL these big feelings with you, and discovering a new feeling welling up inside me.
Because, dear athletes, when things are feeling unstable, THIS IS WHERE WE SHINE!
We put ourselves in situations where we practice how to control the controllables, and thrive.
We pay for them!
We dream about them!
We change our profiles to their logos and talk about them nonstop to our poor, unsuspecting non-runner friends.
In training, we control the controllables
When was the last time that you laced up your shoes for a long run, whatever that means for you, and felt the little flutter of nerves in your belly about what was to come?
In this training cycle, my long runs are on sundays. So…last sunday, for me.
What is that feeling about? It comes from the fact that we are about to run headlong into an unknown, for no reason other than because we can.
Will we get a blister? Is it going to start raining? Will we bonk?
Who knows? Time to find out.
But we don’t just think, “Well why would I go for a long run when so many things could happen? I quit.”
Nah. That’s everyone else.
You are a brave, powerful, adaptable endurance athlete.
You rub Body Glide on the delicates, fill up your water bottles, grab one more gu than you think you might need, and throw a $10 in your pocket. You set your RoadID app to notify your family if you stop moving, slam a banana down, and you go.
One foot in front of the other. Ready for the highs of a great run and the even highers of a bad run that you completed anyway.
You control the controllables and face whatever comes.
You have never known what a race had in store
Can I just point out that there has never been a season where you had a race on your calendar and knew exactly what would happen.
I didn’t know it was going to rain cats and dogs for the entirety of Rock n Roll San Antionio Marathon in 2016. I trained in the desert of El Paso!
Athletes at Ironman Louisville didn’t know the swim would be cancelled last year due to algae in the water.
You didn’t know your bladder was about to explode in the first mile of your last 5k!
So why are you giving it so much real estate in your brain right now?
Will your big race happen this year the way that you (and I) dream about?
Guess what? That’s not a controllable. Worrying about it invites stress into your body that doesn’t need to be there.
(My guess is you probably have enough of that right now. Let’s go ahead and dispense with this.)
Here is what you can do:
You can keep training.
You can keep dreaming.
You can remember that the journey to the start line IS the point, dear athlete.
The race is the celebration of who you have become in the process. If it doesn’t look the way you hoped, you can celebrate differently. Nothing can take away all that you fought through to get there.
- That you overcame doubt.
- That you started treating yourself more kindly
- You traded in cinnamon buns with extra frosting for oatmeal with extra fruit.
- That you believed in something more, and chased it.
- That you inspired people along the way.
So, do you want to join the chorus of voices complaining about upcoming changes and cancellations? Do you want to be the woman who excuses yourself from your next workout because, “Why does it matter anyway? Who knows if we are racing?”
Or are you an unshakable athlete who gives no quarter to negative thoughts of the future because you have claimed the gift of of knowing that you can control the controllables, and handle whatever is to come?
It’s time to step into the bold athlete that you are, my friends.
Get a good night’s sleep. Power up your garmin. Lace up your shoes. Fill your pack with water and pretzels and deliberately leave out the worry, and fear and disappointment.
Those things are just too heavy to tote around for the next several months.
If you’re looking for a group of powerful, positive women athletes, join the new Facebook Group, We are Finding Finish Lines and tell us about yourself. I can’t wait to get to know you!
I’ll be back in your ears on Monday. Be sure to subscribe to the Finding Finish Lines Podcast in your favorite podcast app so the episode will be ready when you are!
Control the controllables this weekend and enjoy the Heck out of your long workouts. Feel free to dance it out to this music here that I still love, and carry on women of valor.