Athlete Journal: Julie Warren, Entry 8 – Willpower and Other Elusive Superpowers

No injuries to report this week, thank goodness. However I did face some mental battles this week and my biggest struggle has been getting outside my own head.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Along with Andrew Read and Narisa Wild, Julie Warren will be sharing her training experiences for upcoming endurance challenges. Follow Julie as she prepares for her next adventure – the Great Wall of China Marathon! Julie’s journals will be posted on Saturdays.

Athlete Journal: Julie Warren, Entry 8 – Willpower and Other Elusive Superpowers

I’m taking a break from my usual weekly training progress report. No worries, training is progressing nicely, and I’m uninjured (fingers crossed while knocking on wood). My biggest battle this week has been, well, getting outside my own head. For whatever reason, my internal demons decided to band together this week and really test my capacity for countering them. Thankfully, I was fairly (although not entirely) successful. I know I can’t be the only one who goes through these bouts, so here’s what I’ve experienced this week and what I did to attempt to set myself back on the right course.

1. Willpower: Or more appropriately speaking, lack of willpower. For the most part, my nutrition has stayed on track and thankfully, I’ve been able to overcome temptation on that front. One exception would be the cookie I ate at work today. I actually only ate part of it because honestly, after weeks of eating little/no sugar, it was just too much. Anyways, my willpower str

uggle this week was to just get my workouts accomplished. It all starts at 4:30am when my alarm goes off and I know I need to get up and do my prescribed speed work. It’s not a long workout, just 45 minutes total including a very long warm up and cool down. All I really have to do is get out of bed, put on the workout clothes I have already laid out the night before, and go to the track or the treadmill. Too easy. Yet twice this week, yes TWICE, I talked myself out of my speed work sessions. I sold myself on the, “Well, you’re training so your body needs more rest” line and reset my alarm for a more civilized waking hour. Okay, while technically that excuse was a true statement, I knew good and well it was just that: an excuse. I knew I was just giving in to my number one temptation, sleep. And of course, when I do crawl out of bed, I’m just riddled with guilt and secretly wondering how much my decision to “sleep in” until 5:30am has set me back in my training. In fact, it ends up setting the tone for my entire morning, unfortunately. And I did it to myself. Sometimes I wonder whose side I’m really on.

2. Believing in myself: If you don’t struggle with doubt, good on you. I struggle with it every single day. From work, to my personal life, to CrossFit, to speed work sessions, to wondering if I’m going to live through my next crazy adventure (joking…kind of). While I struggle with it, I can usually shut it up with some determination, perseverance, and a chat with a good friend. Well, since I was already struggling with willpower, doubt had a more of a place in my mind this week than usual. Doubt does crazy things to you. It’s like you don’t realize it’s creeping into your mind until you’ve already bought stock in what it’s selling. Only this wasn’t a purchase you authorized. There were numerous times this week I really had to take a step back and assess what was going on in my head. What worked for me finally, was to take those thoughts and write them all down. It wasn’t until I wrote those self-doubting comments down on paper that I could see just how silly they were. Getting fat? Um, doubtful. Losing fitness? You missed one of two workouts for the day, let’s be real. But hey, when your mind is in that place, it’ll buy into just about anything. Note to self, keep a close eye on your mind’s bank account.

3. Trust: Yep, I went there. It’s getting real now. Don’t worry, I’m not going to turn this into an episode of Dr. Phil. I’m talking less about trusting other people, and more about trusting myself and the training process/system I’ve chosen. As I’ve mentioned in previous journals, this is my first real effort at training with the CrossFit Endurance method of programming. While I’ve already seen really great progress, I’m still having those moments where I question if this is going to end well for me. This week I came very close to scrapping my plan entirely and going back to weekly long runs, because, “at least I know that will work.” I’ve done that before, so why not do it again? Well, because change can be good. And just because the old way worked, doesn’t mean it worked as well as it could have. I certainly don’t want any more long-lasting injuries, like my 2-year battle with plantar fasciitis. I’ve decided that if I want to continue to improve at longer distances without getting injured, I’m going to have to buy into this process wholeheartedly and not look back. There, I’ve said it. It’s in writing. No more doubting the system. It’s only going to work as well as the effort I put into it. Which should help with that whole willpower/motivation issue I was having earlier this week.

So after a week of faltering willpower, doubting myself, and doubting my whole training plan, I was pretty bummed. Then tonight, I took a look back over the week and realized it was just one week, and really, I hadn’t lost anything. In fact, by going through this frustrating week, I think I’ve learned a bit more about myself and what I need to do as the weeks wear on. I’ll undoubtedly have these same issues pop up again in new and interesting ways, but perhaps now I’ll be more appropriately equipped to shoot them down before they take over my week. I’ve always heard and believed that the mental aspect of training is what will ultimately make or break you. I believe I faced my first real battle this week, and I choose to believe I won.

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