You and I. We’ve both done it.
Had a tough or difficult training session where you’ve felt flat, unfit or you’ve struggled to keep up with your friends and then you start questioning everything.
Whether you’re going to be ready in time for your race. Whether you’re going to make the cut-offs. You start telling yourself the story that you aren’t good enough, you’re too slow, that you’ll never be a good runner (or whatever your sport is), maybe this sport just isn’t for you, that you never seem to improve (heck, you’re even convinced you’re going backwards).
It is all so disheartening.
This cycle of making assumptions and judgement, beating ourselves up, allowing our Imposter Complex to run wild and shame also drives us further away from the dreams you’ve got, the goals you’ve set and the strong, resilient woman you are.
As a coach, I would never assess your fitness based on a single training session you’ve done. Instead, I look for trends; whether I can see improvements (whether that is increase speeds or decreased rest intervals) over time.
Yet it’s still a trap I find myself getting stuck in from time to time. Case in point: at some point during my long session last Saturday I found myself thinking that my fitness hasn’t improved and that the f’n stairs on that trail never seem to get easier*.
When I discussed this topic with today’s guest on Sparta Chicks Radio, professional triathlete Laura Siddall, I jokingly said I wanted all my clients to rewind the episode and listen to our discussion on this point again.
But I wasn’t really joking because I see many women - myself included - fall into this trap and it sets us up to be miserable at a time when we should be excited and looking forward to our race or event.
Laura has an unusual background for a professional triathlete. She spent her gap year as an Officer in the British Army. She also has a Mechanical Engineering degree and only discovered triathlon in her late 20s.
Within 2 years, she was an Age Group World Champion over the Sprint distance. And within 4 years of taking up the sport, she had clocked up 4 Age Group World Championships, in distances ranging from the Sprint through to the 70.3/Half Ironman.
Laura was also one of the earliest supporters of this podcast and her input over coffee in Bondi in early 2016 was invaluable in shaping this podcast and the types of conversations I wanted to have.
So it’s only right that Laura takes a turn at the mic too.
In this interview we also talk about:
* how she mentally struggled to justify the decision (to herself) to turn professional and how it affected her racing for the first few years of her professional career,
* the importance of keeping your focus always present and forward on race day; forget about what’s already happened,
* how she mentally and physically prepares herself to race two Ironman distance triathlons two weeks apart (and the importance of going into the race with no assumptions or judgements),
* Why you shouldn’t check your watch after the swim leg in a triathlon and instead focus on what you can do at any moment to get the best of what your body is giving you.
Postscript: About 12 hours before this episode went live, Laura won her 1st Ironman title as pro and became the 2017 Ironman Australia Champion!
Such a testament to her dream, commitment and hard work over the last few years.
Notes and resources:
*Of course they don’t get easier; you (I) just get faster.