RACING MOTIVATION… A COACH/ ATHLETE PERSPECTIVE

WHY DO YOU RACE?

I love racing. I do. I love the feeling of pushing my body to it’s limits, against every other athlete out there on the day and seeing where that lands me.

For as long as I can remember, I have always been competitive. No matter the sport. I don’t generally half @arse things. I go all in, otherwise I’m out. Growing up I played team sports, netball and basketball both at a high level, and I had a dabble at soccer too. I love the competitiveness, and I love winning.

Then came along triathlon in my 20’s and I went all in there. Wanting to learn the craft, finding out how hard I could push my body and what result that would bring on race day. I would thrive off racing, and I didn’t want to settle. I was by and large ‘all in’. Racing results were my main motivation for training. And I’ve done that for 15 years, with some great success, but not with a LOT of hard work. I trained to race and I thrived off that.

BUT over the past 12 months or so, racing hasn’t been my main motivator for training anymore.

I still train every day. Sometimes 2 or 3 times a day. I still put myself through sessions that I give to my athletes so I know what they feel like / should feel like. I still like pushing myself and setting myself goals and challenges. I love the feeling of feeling fit, and healthy.

But I don’t actually have the drive to want to race to win anymore. I know I could. Because I’m stubborn like that. And I know if I wanted to, I could. But I don’t. I’ve still dabbled in running and cycling and triathlon races, but not with as much focus or as much gusto. Old me would not have raced, if I wasn’t fit and strong enough to give it my best, I wouldn’t have put myself on the start line.

And it has been hard to reconcile in my head at times. My last ‘competitive’ race was Port Macquarie Half Ironman in 2022. I finished 4th in my age group, as a full time coach, and full time mum to a 3 & 4 year old. Before that, it was 2 years prior at Geelong Half Ironman where I qualified for the Half Ironman World Champs. (Ironically being held this year in New Zealand) with a 1 & 2 year old. That was tough, but oh so satisfying!

Back then all I wanted to do was win. And I was fully engrossed in it. My whole identity was wrapped up in it. I prioritised training and racing to win over just about everything else in my life. I just wanted to WIN. Until I didn’t want to anymore…..

I saw a post a couple of years ago by another coach and it said something along the lines of a coach must be able to walk the walk, and not just talk the talk. And it didn’t sit well with me. But at the same time I was like, shit I better keep racing to be able to ‘prove’ that I can and prove that I can coach – BUT then it dawned on me. The two are mutually exclusive, they don’t have to go hand in hand. Sometimes they do – which I’ve done for years. But they certainly don’t have to and we all know LOTS of successful coaches that don’t race at a high level anymore – or at all. So, with that, over the last couple of years as things have shifted, my mindset shifted and so did my priorities.

I am always saying to athletes that intrinsic motivation should be first and foremost. Of course use extrinsic motivation to aid you, to continue to drive you to be better, but your main motivator should come from within. Yet here I was, using a post I came across on facebook and the perception I thought others must have of me to continue to drive me. But like most people who rely on extrinsic motivation, that can often only last for so long….

When I had our first born (nearly 7 years ago) I wanted / needed to get back racing. I didn’t want to loose that identity as an ‘athlete’. That’s what I had known myself as for so much of my life. The satisfaction I got from it was huge and all my energy and focus was on those goals.

But in come children, two at that in quick succession and things slowly shifted. My want and need to have a singular goal and focus for myself has become lesser as our children have grown. And my growth and personal satisfaction has come more from the athletes that I coach, the group we have built, of the Club that I support, the community that we now live in and of course – my family.

I don’t need to race at the top level anymore if I don’t want to – to simply ‘walk the walk’.

I don’t need to race for external satisfaction.

I know I can now race if and when I want to.

I can race because I CAN, because I know HOW and because I LOVE to. Not because I feel I have to.

I have learnt that it is the training itself and the discipline it brings that I actually love the most, not necessarily the racing. The racing is a by product – a bonus if you will…. Perhaps, deep down that’s what has always driven me, I just didn’t realise it …. I don’t have to force myself to train or exercise, I do it because I love it.

Which is why I stay fit. Which is why I train every day. So I can, if I want, when I want, where I want. A quick little prep will have me ready and I’ll enjoy returning to those feelings. But I most likely won’t go ‘all in’ like I used to, not because I can’t, but because I choose not to.

Now that all may change again at some point. What feels right now, may not be the same in another few years. We all go through seasons in life and I love embracing all of them.

And that’s what I also love about coaching each individual athlete I have. I have some athletes in the early stages of their athletic journeys, going all in, and I fully embrace that, support that and help foster the environment and training that they need.
I have other athletes who prefer a softer balance to their training, competing when they can, and training as it fits into their life. I have others who don’t compete – at all. They simply love the structure and discipline of training in their lives, and staying fit. Just as I do. And I have the pro and inspiring pros. The high achievers. Those chasing PB’s, wanting the most out of themselves, and I love being on the sidelines for all of that. I love being part of each of their journeys.

So no matter the athletes path, or where they are at in their journey. I love all of it, because it is THEIR journey. Just as I am on my own journey. And as a Coach, I love that I’ve been through all facets of it. I’ve been the beginner, the green and keen athlete, the top age grouper, I’ve dabbled as a pro, a mum juggling it all, and the one still here for the long haul.

And I am grateful to be part of that and still join in on the ride!

Coach Sarah x

Finish Line Feels! Ironman Australia

“You only get to do your first Ironman once. So take your time down that finishing chute! Soak it all in. Look around. Find your loved ones. Embrace them. And draw in all that energy! That is the feeling you have been chasing all day. That is what you have trained so hard for. So don’t rush it. Remember it, savour it and enjoy it !”

Advice I gave first time Ironman Athlete Janelle Wolski ahead of her first Ironman at Ironman Australia last weekend…. And she heeded that advice with full gusto ! Her finish line video and pics are incredible and a memory she will savour forever !

When the dust settled after her race, she shared her experience with me, and by sharing with others, may just inspire someone else to take on a challenge that scares you, to step outside your comfort zone, to be brave, and to trust in the process…..

JANELLE:

Prior to the race: I was nervous off and on , all week prior. Why was I so nervous ? I asked myself…. I think I was scared I wouldn’t have the mental toughness if there was a situation in the race where I got overwhelmed at what was ahead of me and  I might just give up …….which isn’t like me but these thoughts kept creeping in . There is also the ‘mum guilt’ that pops up … if I fail at this , what a selfish waste of time all the training has been and the expense, the race, accommodation etc etc.. I know this is irrational for many reasons. The training plan fitted in with our lifestyle ( legend coach!), sometimes  I dropped the ball with things on the home front and at times I was distracted, but the kids knew what I was aiming for and well, that’s life sometimes. We can’t always have all our ducks in a row, and I know that that’s aok.

I suppose when nerves set in and thoughts of uncertainty about race day follow, the self sabotage sets in !!! What a ride it’s been and I hadn’t even started the race . I know tapering can make you cranky or feel off but I wasn’t expecting the nerves …………..I guess it also showed how much I really cared about achieving this goal …………

Race day ………3 hours sleep tops,  but I had a fantastic sleep the night before and a nap during Saturday and others have probably functioned during an ironman on less sleep.  I just kept thinking that no matter what , by this time tomorrow the day would have been played out and just relax girl …… I started to feel better on the walk to transition and Bryan (hubby) was a calming voice, ‘this is normal don’t worry, everyone is feeling the same‘. Thankfully it helped and I started to feel better …….. Transition done , I found some Maitland Tri Club girls that raced  their first IM last year and before I knew it we were walking to the swim start ( thanks to  Ange, the constant reminder that it is just a long training day) … as coach would say “hurry slowly.”

The swim was amazing , I forgot to hit go on my watch, oh well, I turned it on  at the weir. I liked the stop start of going over the weir, a chance to reset and site from above. The next time going back over the weir I got to put my swim cap on that came off , this has never happened  before but no dramas , I didn’t rush the swim and at no  time felt tired , I felt I was pacing right and because I stuffed up my watch I had no idea of my time when I got out of the water, I was in disbelief later to find out I did 1.13 … goal was 1 hour 20 mins and I expected to go over that …… I was wrapped!

Transition 10 minutes … I’m glad I didn’t go over 10 minutes , I’m totally fine with my transition time and the decision to wear bike knicks as I was comfortable the whole ride , I have no plans to do another ironman in the near future , but if I do, I would like to get use to long rides in a tri suit so as to not have to fluff about with the clothing changes. :-p

Off on the bike and realised I left my electrolyte / hydration tablets in my bike bag. Thankfully (again thanks Coach!) I had backup at personnel needs station. Crisis averted..

The ride going out was flat , I was doing 30  km p/h plus .. with hardly any pressure on pedals, was I going to hard?  I didn’t think so , so I kept on at that pace , the bike course was easier than the old course, everyone I have spoken too has disagreed though.. There were rolling hills but no steep spikes of hills like the first 15km of the old course ( which I knew was ahead of me ). At the 30 km mark I had that preempted thought of “shit  what have I got myself into“ but it was brief,  I didn’t let it fester and though and reminded myself that I’d done the work. Nutrition – I consumed my 3 hour plan of infinite nutrition in  2 hours and my hydration was gone in 1 hour …. I hadn’t factored in being so thirsty and hungry after the swim. The 44 km  mark came, personal  needs stop done, too easy, back we go .

Technically, there were steep long downhills that didn’t feel too steep when going up them . Going down the hills I didn’t pedal much , I got good speed , tucked in and let my legs rest while I held on tight. The tail wind going out was nice but the roads were bumpy and there were bottles strewn all over the place, many with flat tyres. It is proper country roads, so not many spectators. I liked the course ….. but …… it’s not appealing to do it again, I would prefer doing the old IM course because of the scenery, the out and back and the spectators.

Coming back into town and going out for 40 km I knew would be hard however the hills weren’t as bad as I remember when I did 70.3 a few years ago. I think my bike fitness made a huge difference. I had to keep concentrating at this time, the wind was brutal . More times than  I can count I got knocked around by cross winds. Going downhill was particularly nerve wracking. A lapse in concentration and it could have ended my day but I was not breaking in the downhills unless absolutely necessary because it was free speed!

Many times throughout the bike my mind would wander to “how on earth am I going to run after this bike“? Focus was key, I was chatting about my angst with the run leg to a kids sports psych at the boys soccer once and she said “when you are swimming, think about swimming !” “Don’t think about running when you are still swimming”, lol simple and affective, be in the moment.

I was now on the home stretch back in town, firstly ….…..block out all the people already on the run course and already finished, run my own race, it has gone perfectly so far. I nailed the nutrition , I kept it going throughout the ride and it was a good distraction making a few little adjustments that I thought I needed. The  wind was blowing straight up the Main Street of Port it felt like I was going nowhere it was sooooo strong. I did not want to lose control of my bike going down the Main Street of Port 😬 How embarrassing would that be!

Coming into transition and all of a sudden the bike was done! I gave myself a pat on the back – I was happy. I knew I had trained well and executed my race plan well when I was passing people in the last 30 km of the bike who are cooked.

Transition . There is a definite mental lift changing into run gear it felt good. Home stretch ! I have never thought finishing this Ironman was a given. There are so many variables that can be out of your control …mechanical or gut issues, sickness, random niggles that pop up… But so far so good !

Starting  the run I wasn’t yet convinced I would finish but it was definitely looking very likely. I started running to see how I felt. I have learnt after doing long hours of training that often I will feel worse at the start before feeling better. This was in my mind  to not panic if I set off and then felt crap ….. but that didn’t happen. I felt ok, no nausea , no low blood pressure feeling. Nutrition nailed. It was cold by now – and it suited me … not for others who ran in hoodies and gloves! I said to myself if I walk I will get colder and when the wind was behind me I’m not to walk. Some negative thoughts popped up in my mind when I saw someone else I knew out there racing and next thing I know………I am walking WTF !!! 

I thought to myself, “I’m feeling pretty good stop with the unhelpful thoughts !!!” There was an aid station not far from me. I walked to it, regrouped and decided to run … mostly … with blinkers on and sticking to the plan. Get to 21 km, aid station and big hill walk only. Off I went and stuck to it  pretty closely, I was happy ! The 3rd  lap I thought,  keep the plan going with 20% room for error 🙂 This lap was going to be the hardest, seeing others finishing, that point in the race when you aren’t on your last lap yet and it still feels a long way away…. So I had to block it out and my goal was to pass the last finish line for the last time for the last 5 or so kms , then I allowed myself to imagine finishing and think about the day and start to believe it would happen but not only that, it happened really well! I had NO idea at this stage what my time was, the last  2 laps I was feeling the pain. By the 4th lap I gave into the lure of more walks but was so proud of sticking to my plan as long as possible. I stuck to my nutrition which helped immensely I have no doubt !

A Tri friend met me with 200 metres to go and ran with me to near start of the carpet and said some really awesome things and said your time is fantastic and told me, I couldn’t believe my time, it was really such an amazing feeling! And the lights, the people the noise – simply incredible! I found hubby Bryan and son Liam and some other friends were there also, big hugs had all round! I always thought my legs would stop working at the finish line and I would be almost collapsing but I felt like I was running on a springboard.  I was soooo proud of my time, but most of all I was so proud of myself, of my achievement. An absolute bonus, I finished well under 15 hours 14.22  !

What an amazing day, so very lucky to have the opportunity, grateful to have made the start line fit and healthy. There had been a few circumstances that had me very close to pulling the pin on the training and my goal, but I kept training through and adjusted training when needed – thanks to coach – it made all the difference!

…. Mmmm and right now I just had a thought …… imagine if I didn’t have a 20 minute transition time or picked up the pace in the swim?  I could have got under 14 hours ? ………. and there it is …… so this is how it happens that somehow you end up registering for another Ironman 😂😂😂😂😂

Thank you SO much for sharing your experience Janelle. Such an incredible effort ! What a super star mum !

SET YOUR GOAL. DEFINE YOUR WHY. DETERMINE YOUR SUCCESS

This time of the year for many athletes is the perfect time for reviewing your past season, setting new goals, but most importantly defining what success is to you. Then building a framework to measure your success. In sport (well in life really!) the performance journey goes well beyond simple concepts of becoming faster, stronger, finishing or winning…  Results are important. However, a broader perspective provides a healthier and more productive framework to measure success over the long term. And that’s where an athletes WHY comes into it….

Most athletes start their goal setting process with a goal. It makes sense right? ! Set a goal, and lay out the stepping stones to help you achieve that goal…. 

But what if I got you to look at goals from a different perspective? What if I said, without a WHY your GOAL won’t be able to determine your success? What if I got you to first determine your WHY before you set your GOAL and in return then determine your SUCCESS? How do you think this would differ?

Here’s an example. An athlete set a goal of breaking 5hrs in their next Half Ironman. They loved the idea of going ‘sub 5’! Their previous best was 5:30hrs. They laid out the steps they thought they needed to get there, they trained hard, their family / training / life balance was a bit out of whack, they were managing a little niggle, but they had a goal so stuck to the plan….. Come race day they finished in 5:10hrs. 10min off their goal time. What feelings do you think they had? Disappointed in their result? Because they didn’t hit their goal time…. DESPITE still hitting a 20min PB! 

But what if that same athlete was asked the question – what is your WHY ? Why do you want to do a sub 5hr? Why do you train hard, and push yourself and why do you race? After some thought, the athlete wrote down a few things such as: to inspire my children to work hard, to not give up on a goal, to be a better version of myself at work and at home for my family. Their WHY was far more than simply hitting a 5hr time barrier. This doesn’t mean they couldn’t aim for both. Of course they could. But their WHY is what is deep, it gives purpose and means much more than a time on a clock…… That WHY is what should also help drive you – not the goal itself…. Read on >>

A WHY is a statement of purpose that describes why you do what you do and why you live the lifestyle you do. 
A GOAL is the object of ones ambition or effort; an aim or a desired result. 
SUCCESS is the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. 

Success cannot thrive without a goal (aim) and a goal cannot thrive without a why (purpose). So when setting a goal, to determine your success of achieving your goal, you want to know the WHY behind it. 

Why do you want to achieve X?
Why do you push your body to train every day? 
Why do you do triathlon / cycling / running? 

“Your WHY is what will set you apart. It will help inspire you to take action. It will also drive you in your training and your racing.”

So as you sit and ponder your WHY, here are some action steps on helping you to determine your WHY: 

1. The first step is to ask yourself what your ultimate goal is. This could be related to your sport. Ie I want to complete an Ironman, or, I want to qualify for a World Championships, or I want to have a balance in life and training etc….

2. When you determine what this/ these are, the next and most important step is to ask yourself … WHY do I want to do / achieve this?

Now, there are some key things to remember when developing your WHY.

  1. Your WHY should be powerful: When setbacks or obstacles (such as an injury or a bad race) arise, use your WHY because it is powerful enough to overcome the setback/obstacle. 
  2. Your WHY should be deep: Having a shallow why can be easily broken. (ie I train because I enjoy it)  Instead, you should focus on a deeper meaning. (ie I train because it helps my mental health and makes me happier)
  3. Your WHY should be intrinsic: Don’t base your WHY on extrinsic factors (ie I want to do an Ironman because my best mate is) instead look inside and feel your WHY (I want to do an Ironman because I want to test my own physical capabilities)

Developing a WHY is the best way to ensure you are avoiding setbacks and continually making progress towards your goals. AND the best way to then measure your success – which I will touch on in my next instalment….

So I encourage you firstly to take some time to write down your GOALS AND YOUR WHY. Remember to make them powerful, deep, and intrinsic. And you need to write them down. Not just have them in your head. Find some paper and write (or type) it out and have it where you can see it. In your phone, beside your bed, on the fridge… Somewhere you can visit them regularly. And if your why truly means something to you, then you will find a way to make your goals happen and you will more likely lead to a happier success…..

How becoming a mum has changed me

An honest and open account on the changes motherhood has brought to my personal life, my working life, my training and me as a person. 

People told me before having my little one that it would ‘change my life forever‘ and my ‘life wouldn’t be the same again‘.  It was those same people that had children themselves, of which were given the same words of wisdom by others before them.

Of course I knew that life wasn’t going to be the same. Because life wasn’t just going to be about me anymore.  But at the same time, I didn’t know exactly what it would look like, or how it would feel. I knew that it would change our dynamics at home, my working structure, and it would alter how and when I could train but above all else, what I wasn’t expecting was how it has changed me as a person.

Our little man Mills is now 6 months old, and such a little dude already. “Little M” as I affectionately call him. He has a lot of nicknames already, but this is my fav simply because he is so teeny, smashing the charts in the mere 10th percentile!  So yes, he is blessed to have inherited both our short @rse genes which almost guarantees he’ll be that small fella in the front row of school photos.  He’ll be the little whippet on the football oval running all day long, and I have no doubt riding bikes before his feet can even touch the pedals! But what he lacks in size I know will be made up in every other way.

He’s already started to show his own little personality. He doesn’t like sitting still for long (I can thank myself for that one!), yet has the most relaxed chilled out nature – which has made my ‘job‘ as a mum very easy. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still a baby and will cry when he wants something or is uncomfortable, has his nights when he wants to party, and doesn’t go to bed before 9pm. But in the most part, he’s smiley, happy, and loves cuddles from everyone and anyone. He hangs to get outside each day and is fascinated by trees. It’s amazing how such a tiny little human can already be moulding into his own little person.

ANYWAY – back on track! But at least you can now get a picture of our special little dude.  🙂

Before Little M arrived into our lives, we had a pretty relaxed, organised, yet carefree life. We both trained when we wanted (my partner is a cyclist), we could head away for the weekend without much planning, we could ride our bikes all day long if we chose. We could stay up late, and wake up whenever our bodies woke. There was no timeline apart from the one we set ourselves. Fast forward to today and we’re learning to live with and work around the needs of a small human that is 100% dependent on you, so all of that has changed – but certainly not for the worst! 🙂

How have things changed?

My Working Life
I decided early on in my pregnancy that I didn’t want to have much time off work. I love my job and what I can offer people and I love the satisfaction it provides me. I didn’t want to be away from that for very long. As much as others tried to advise me to take more time off, it only took a couple of months for me and I was already jumping out of my skin to get back into the coaching scene.

So I’ve been back coaching since December, gradually taking athletes back on board each month based on how I feel I can manage my time and still provide the support my athletes expect and deserve. But it does look totally different than before bubs. Pre Mills I would plan out my week day by day (heck, nearly hour by hour), I would set times that I would complete certain tasks and know when I was doing what. I could meet up with athletes on a whim, and run training sessions without too much thought.

But today, that simply isn’t possible. I still write lists on what I want/need to achieve for the week, but the hourly planning has gone out the window. And it is more of a challenge to meet for training sessions. I have to be far more flexible, yet also very organised. As much as Little M is in a routine, that routine isn’t set in stone. He doesn’t know what time it is, when I ‘m on a time line or that I have to finish writing a program for an athlete. And to make it even more challenging, he hasn’t taken to enjoying milk from a bottle, so I’m literally his lifeline, his milkbar on call whenever he says so! (guys really do get it easier in all aspects don’t they!) 😉

There have been days when he’s been unsettled and I haven’t been able to get any work done, but then others when I’ve been able to knock out a solid 7 hours.  There will be times that I get up and work early in the morning when he’s still sleeping  or at night when my partner is home. So as much as I feel like my days aren’t as effective as they once were, I’m definitely far more efficient with the time that I do spend working.

I’m loving the challenge of balancing work, life and bubs and on the most part – I feel I have a great balance. And I feel like it is working well for me and most importantly for my athletes.

And on my athletes – I totally appreciate the support I have from each of them. There have been times that I’ve had to reschedule a phone chat, or an email has taken a day longer to respond to. So I appreciate their understanding that that is the life of a working mum, but it certainly doesn’t mean that their training, racing and performance is any less important to me than before. Quite opposite actually. I could so easily just not work. To take 12months off like many working mums do, to enjoy the precious moments with my attention spent on him wholly. But that’s not me. I am grateful that I can combine the love of my son, with the love of my work together. And I’ve loved taking Little M down to the local races to watch my athletes our on course. It’s such a special feeling and something that I intend to continue to share.

My Training Life
I love training. I love it just as much as I do racing. I honestly feel like I was born to push and test my body, because it’s when I feel at my best. 6 months postpartum and I’ve managed to race a handful of races already including some crit racing and a local triathlon. I was (and still are) far from being my fittest or strongest – but who said you have to be ready to race? (read my last blog on that here.) I’m lucky/blessed – however you like to term it, that from around 3months old, out little man has slept through the night. Giving me a solid 7-9hours of sleep a night. (I have chosen to forget about the horrible 2 weeks when he was 4months old and he reverted back to waking every 2 hours!) So lack of sleep is not the issue for me in being able to train.

The two (maybe three) driving factors for me that is keeping my training volume low is my shift in priorities (right now it’s about him not me), his lack of interest in taking a bottle means i’m on call whenever he says so! And co-ordinating training with my fiance. (think that is the first time I’ve actually written fiance!) 🙂 And I am totally AOK with all of them. Right now, I am more than happy to be the role of mother, providing love and support at home so the two most important men in my life can be their happiest, healthiest selves. Saying that out loud makes my heart explode with so much love and that truly is what makes me happy right now. If I wanted to train hard, I most certainly could, and I would find a way to do it. But I don’t want to, and I don’t feel the pressure or need to either.

Don’t get me wrong though, I still make time for myself and exercise every day – as I believe that is important for every person, not just new mums. But that’s exactly what it is for me – exercise. Doing what makes me feel good, both physically and mentally. Sometimes that’s simply getting outside for a long walk and doing some strength training, other times it’s runs and rides, or a combination of both. But no matter what it is, I just do what my body feels like it needs, and it is paying me back by providing a healthy milk supply for my little man and a strong body to enable me to race whenever I choose to, even without training specifically.


And Me…
Earlier this month I heard and read about the heart wrenching story of a well known female figure in our sport who lost her baby girl at birth. They say that when you have children you are affected so much more by tragic stories such as this. And my god this is true. When I heard the news I was absolutely devastated for her, and the many mothers before her and after her that have and will have to endure that sort of heartache. A couple of weeks later she started to blog about her experience – not necessarily to share with others, but to help her on her journey to recovery. They are raw, devastatingly honest and emotionally heart-wrenching. Reading her blogs stabbed me in the heart and hit me so hard that I truly did not expect and it took me off guard.  After reading the blogs I didn’t want to leave my little boy alone. I didn’t want him out of my sight, I just wanted to cuddle him all day long, not letting him out of my sight for a moment. I thought that if he was with me, nothing could happen to him, that I’d be able to control what we did and when and he would be safe. I planted so many kisses all over his body that I’m sure if he could talk, he would say ‘mum – stop kissing me!‘.

It took a couple of days for this feeling to lift as I realised that I couldn’t be his saviour, I simply had to be his mum. To love him and protect him and help him learn and navigate this world in his own way – and eventually on his own. And it was then that I realised how much being a mum had changed me.

I was someone who always needed to control things in my life. I didn’t like surprises, I liked planning and organising, I’d take my time in making decisions. I didn’t do things spur of the moment. But looking back, since becoming a mum, I realise that motherhood has actually changed that part of me. I’m more relaxed and carefree and happy to go with the flow. Things that spring up or surprise me don’t bother me, I simply deal with it and move on. Because who has the time to worry about what could have been, should have been, or might have been? I certainly don’t anymore.

And I have far more patience. My dad even commented on this, saying how proud it made him to me see me as a mum. He also said it changed me – but  in a good way. He said that he can see it has relaxed me, slowed me down and I now don’t get frustrated when I feel like others ‘couldn’t keep up’ with me. (not literally, but figuratively) And without even realising it, it had. And I love it.

People say that motherhood is stressful, but my experience so far has been the opposite. It has calmed me. It has allowed me to simply accept what the day brings. I love the mess my little man makes when learning to eat food, even if I had just changed him into clean clothes. Instead of getting frustrated when he cries or won’t stop grizzling, I try and understand what it is he is trying to tell me. I don’t stress about what time he wakes up in the morning, sometimes it’s 6am, other times 8.00am. Because either is fine. I don’t worry if he sleeps for 3 hours in the afternoon, even if the guidelines say he shouldn’t be… And I let him tell me when he’s hungry, I don’t go by a clock. I wonder at times if I may be a little too relaxed (is that possible?!) but I certainly don’t feel guilty by that at all. Because this is my experience as a working mum and it’s working for me and my family, and that’s all that matters.

Here’s to the next few months of changes, challenges and learnings and plenty more awesome improvements, performances and breakthroughs from my athletes! 🙂

Coach Sarah

 



Complete Per4mance Coaching was born out of the desire and passion to not just coach but to educate athletes of all levels to help them achieve their optimal performance while maintaining a balanced, happy and healthy life.

Every athlete is individual, therefore I provide programs written and designed specifically based on each athletes goals, time commitment, training level and ‘life’ in general. Delivered through training peaks, each athlete receives a truly personal coaching service dedicated to improving YOUR results, while providing a pricing structure that helps allow every athlete receive the coaching that they deserve.

Contact me for a FREE initial coaching consultation to discuss your training and coaching options.

The winning mentality

“I wasn’t the strongest physically out there. But what I did have was self belief, and I had absolutely nothing to lose. ”

I love racing. I love the pre-race nerves, that feeling of hesitation in the pit of your stomach, the nervous energy that wants to explode out of you. Others may dread that feeling, but I thrive off it. I love preparing for a race, the energy at the venue, the feelings of anxiousness, the fear of the unknown. I don’t get that feeling from anything else, so I look forward to it.

As it nears 12 months since my last race pre-baby, surprisingly I actually hadn’t missed that feeling though. People would ask me if I missed racing, and I was honest and said I didn’t. I was simply enjoying being able to train to stay fit and healthy and in providing the best possible environment for my growing bump. – and that was my purpose. So I trained and that feeling it gave me afterwards was what I thrived off. That was my ‘high’.

But 3 months post baby (where has that time gone?!) and that feeling wasn’t quite enough anymore. There was a ‘feeling’ that was missing and it started to gnaw away at me. Something was subtly telling me that it was time. I was ready to get those feelings back that no amount of training can replicate.

And that was when I knew I was ready. I haven’t been training specifically to race, I have barely been on the road, I’m definitely not as fit and strong as I have been in the past, I’ve lost top end speed, I’ve lost my endurance, but what I haven’t lost is my drive and my ability to push my body beyond it’s limits.  I’m was no where near race ready, and nor do I want to be at this stage, but I was ready to get back out there, have some fun and see what my body was capable of and I was ready to get those race nerves back!

So as I lined up on the start line of a Crit race on the weekend. I was nervous. ‘I feel like i’m doing my first ever race!‘ I told a friend on the start line. And that was my reminder why I train.  I was born competitive. And this was where I belonged.

For those who have raced criteriums before, you know it can be a bit of cat and mouse game. It’s not necessarily who is the strongest rider, but who can play it smart, use tactics to put themselves in the best position to cross the line first. Sitting in as much as possible and saving energy until the last part of the race and the all important finish line sprint.  But the ‘triathlete’ comes out in me and I’ve never been able to race like that. I race smart, but I race hard. But if it was going to be hard for me, I was going to make it hard for others too. So despite not being race fit (I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve ridden on the road in the past 6 months), I wasn’t going to stop me having a crack.

As the race went on, the cat and mouse game continued, but I was able to work out who was willing to work and who wasn’t. I knew my legs were able to work for short efforts, but anything longer and the lactic threshold started to build and my body wasn’t able to sustain it. At the same time, I’m not a sprinter, so I knew I didn’t want to be rounding the last lap with the sprinters and having to battle it out for a sprint finish. So I had cracks off the front, I chased others down. I worked hard. I didn’t want it to just be an easy race with a finish line sprint.

So as we neared the end of the race, a couple of laps out from the finish and one rider went and in that moment I thought she was going to win off the front. But I wasn’t ready to give up just yet and a few of us chased and we gradually bridged the gap. As we rounded into the last lap I didn’t feel like I was the strongest, but I said to myself right then that I wasn’t going to listen to my legs, I was going to give everything from the last corner and I started to mentally picture the finish line.

So as we rounded the last corner I dug as deep as I could. I was third wheel but I could feel my momentum building, it was going to be very close. ‘I can’t loose this now‘ I said to myself. My legs and my lungs were screaming at me, and it could have been easy for me to ‘settle’ for second or third – heck I’d just given birth to my baby boy 3 months ago! But I wasn’t willing to settle. So I drove my bike out of the saddle right to the finish line just pipping the other two girls in a tight photo finish.  (not the most glamorous photo, but it definitely sums my race up!) 😉

But I don’t believe I won this race because I was physically the strongest. I won this race mentally. I wasn’t willing to settle for not giving my everything.

Where some athletes miss that winning mentality is by settling. It can be easy to be content and say ‘I’m happy with 2nd, but the question is – are you really? Or are you just settling? Did you allow yourself to settle for second? Or did you actually give every ounce trying to reach first? If you didn’t, why not? What was it that you weren’t prepared to do? Were you not prepared to push that hard? Or was that person out front just that much better than you on the day? You need to be able to answer these questions and be honest with your answers so you can reach your true potential.

So don’t allow yourself to settle. When you think you are done, convince yourself that you have just that little bit more. Break it down. “to the next tree’, ‘pass the next person’, ‘just 5 more minutes of hurt’, whatever your ‘cues’ are use them. And if they aren’t working use something else. It’s a mind game out there. Not just a physical game.

Of course there will nearly always be stronger athletes – that’s the beauty of racing and that’s what helps drives us too. Other days you may just not feel 100% either, a little flat/off, or the legs just didn’t come to play – and that’s ok, as long as you can determine why and as long as you still give 100% on that day.

Something I took away from my time spent last year watching and learning from National Performance Centre Triathlon Head Coach Dan Atkins were some words of wisdom he shared with us: ‘All I ask is for my athletes to give me 100% of whatever they have on that day”.  Re-read that sentence. All Dan asks of his athletes is to give 100% of whatever they have. So even if you only have 80% on the day, as long as you give 100% of that 80%, that’s all that can be asked of you. So don’t settle.

So much of racing is a mental game – not just a physical one. I don’t believe I was the strongest physically out there racing on the weekend. But what I did have was self-belief and a strong mental game. My purpose for the race was to test my mental strength against my physical strength. The end result? A win in my first race back since having my bubs 3 months ago.

This race I can say my mental strength was stronger than my physical one. What I can’t wait for is  when they both line up again on the start line together as strong as each other…..

 

Key take aways? 

– Give everything you have on the day, regardless of how you feel.
– Train yourself mentally, not just physically
– Self belief goes a long way to reaching your potential
– Visualise how you want your race to look – a powerful tool to use.
– Be willing to push the line to find where the edge lies.
– Don’t be afraid of the pre-race nerves, use them to your advantage
– Use mental cues/ positive mantras for when a race gets tough
– Don’t settle. Always strive for more. Always.

~ ~ ~ ~

If you would like me to help you improve both your physical and mental performance, contact me for a chat no matter your level or goals. 

Pictures courtesy of Mich Adventures and StKilda Cycling Club

Embracing change

Life can bring a lot of changes. In one instance your life is on one trajectory and then something comes up and changes that, and all of a sudden you find yourself in another direction. You may not have envisaged it, but I honestly believe that things in life happen for a reason. So dwelling on what should have been, could have been or would have been I feel, is wasting time and energy. So focusing on the NOW and what opportunities lie ahead – is what is most important.

Myself and my partner had talked about having kids – him more so than me! 😉 Children were on the cards and a part of our future planning, I just didn’t know when I’d be ready for them,  as I couldn’t picture a little human in my life just yet. I had just got back into competitive racing again and our coaching business was starting to thrive. But fast forward in time and all of a sudden I discover I’m growing a little mini me! Wow. It may not have been when I planned, but I knew instantly that it was meant to be. And in that instance, my life trajectory changed.

And now with a 3 month old that demands my attention at any hour of the day or night, I wouldn’t have it any other way. My life has definitely changed since he came into our world. He’s made me become more patient and understanding, he has forced me to slow down, yet I always feel busy.  Simply being able to head out for a run requires planning. To be able to get out on the bike I have found even harder, and swimming hasn’t even happened yet! 😉 On the work front I’ve been working when it suits him. Not me. There have definitely been lots of changes to navigate, and a new way of living to learn. But I have been loving the changes and the challenges!

For the mums out there I have always had respect for you, and now I can 100% relate. 🙂 It’s a big job – one that we will have for the rest of our lives.

All these changes in my personal life, ultimately brought about changes in my professional life too. The time allowed me to explore new challenges and redefine what I want from my career as a coach and my focus as an athlete all while juggling being a new mum.

And so with that, I recently made the decision that it was my time to leave Holistic Endurance and embark on a new challenge.  I hadn’t planned for it to happen, but as I said, changes happen and so it’s about embracing that change and making the most of where it can take you.

I have spent the last 3 years with my business partner Katee building up a business from just a handful of athletes to now a thriving and well known brand in the triathlon community. What Katee and I have been able to achieve in just 3 years has been a testament to our hard work and a credit to the athletes who have been open and willing to learn and share the journey with us. Sharing our own personal stories, coaching and educating athletes in all areas of training, racing, health and wellness has meant we have been able to make an impact on so many athletes lives. So a big thank you to Katee for allowing me to share the journey with her for the past 3 years. We’ve only just started touching the surface of making a change in our industry and there’s a long way still to go, but we can feel the shift happening and it’s exciting!

For me, my message has always been about balancing life with training, all while chasing your goals. And I truly believe they can co-exist and you can achieve this if you get the mix right. It does however take a specific type of coach to be able to do this and have the ability to get that balance just right. It’s easy to just prescribe more and more training, but get the balance right and the results are amazing!

As scary as change can be, I’m excited about the change, and bringing to life Complete Per4mance Coaching .  This will allow another means for athletes to find their triathlon/life balance and allow me to continue to influence athletes in our industry while explore my own coaching philosophy – all while being the best coach, mum, girlfriend, friend and athlete I can be!

What is Complete Per4mance Coaching?

Complete Per4mance Coaching is triathlon, cycling and running coaching for athletes seeking a performance edge. My coaching is born out of the desire and passion to not just coach but to educate athletes of all levels to help them achieve their optimal performance while maintaining a balanced, happy and healthy life.

Every athlete is individual, therefore I provide programs written and designed specifically based on each athletes goals, time commitment, training level and ‘life’ in general. Delivered through training peaks, each athlete receives a truly personal coaching service dedicated to improving YOUR results, while providing a pricing structure that helps allow every athlete receive the coaching that they deserve.

Contact me to discuss your training and coaching options.