March 28, 2012

Fighting The FUD Factor During Race Season

Anyone who’s spent any time in the business world is familiar with the acronym FUD which stands for “fear, uncertainty, and doubt.”  FUD is a corporate sales tactic used to leverage your company’s product by planting the seeds of uncertainty for your rival’s product in the mind of a prospective customer.  These three little adjectives can effectively paralyze customer buying decisions and bring the sales process to a screeching halt.

For a triathlete, FUD is alive and well and I hate to say this but your own worst enemy in this scenario is YOU.  The self-talk you need to stick to it and work through it is crucial for taking on 3 grueling sports (along with figuring out your nutrition plan, taking time to recover, strength train, work fulltime and have a personal life, among other things).  Is it any wonder you find yourself overwrought with the mere thought of racing?

As the Chief Triathlamate and water bottle washer of the family, during race season I hang the “Shrinks R Us” shingle outside my home office.  My counseling work extends well beyond the walls of my home, too.  I’ve discovered that there are times when I need to prepare myself for some very difficult conversations with all of the athletes in my network.

Some common refrains I often hear include:

  • I’m not fit enough.
  • I haven’t trained enough.
  • I’m too fat and I’ll be too slow to make the cutoff.
  • I’ll do lousy and fail my friends and family.
  • I may as well have flushed my entry fees down the toilet.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of concerns; I’m sure you have some of your own.

Hopefully you realize that nothing you do would fail your family and the only way for you to fail is to give up after working so hard for so long.  In fact, the ability to train and race at this level at all is an amazing triumph that only a fraction of the population would even consider taking on!

When the fretting continues well beyond its expiration date, you need to get your head on straight.

No one is coming to your pity party because, let’s face it, you’ve CHOSEN to pursue triathlon.  Fortunately, I’ve got some ideas for you to rewire your brain and (here’s my baseball analogy for all you MLB fans) you won’t be swinging at a pitch in the dirt.  You must redirect your thinking by keeping a cheat sheet handy with the following questions.

  1. What makes you think you aren’t ready?
  2. What do you need to do to be ready?
  3. Where are you today vs. where you need to be?  What is the true distance between these two points?
  4. What can you do RIGHT NOW to close the gap?
  5. What obstacle is standing in the way?  What will it take to remove it, and who can help you?

Spend focused time thinking through your answers, jot them down, and then look at them again later in the day.  Better yet, enlist an accountability partner to ask you these questions.  This should be someone who knows you well, someone you trust – someone who won’t let you make excuses and will bust you if you do.  Build your emergency plan to close the gap between where you are and where you need to be, share it with your accountability partner and get MOVING.  Encouragement from your accountability partner to keep you in forward motion can be HUGE here, too.  Ask for their help.

Training – like most hard efforts in our lives – is about building new habits.  Consistency reinforces the habit-forming effort.

It’s all about momentum.

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