You do it on your own, or not at all

I was reading something interesting about motivation the other day (while finishing the Flow in Sport book). People are always looking for motivation, but what they really need is discipline.

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Motivation is fleeting, if it is there at all.

Discipline keeps your foot hitting the ground, your ass in the saddle, day in and day out. Tired, crabby, hungry, sore, cold, hot, achy, it keeps you going.

I kind of struggle with the opposite of motivation/discipline. I can be extremely rigid with myself- unforgiving even. No days off, riding after racing a half marathon (this can be a super bad idea, I was too tired and I’ve done it again even!), scheduling too many exercise activities in one day.

I guess I always tread with a fear that the slope is so slippery to sedentary behaviour that every day I am white-knuckling it with one foot on the banana peel to slide back down to what, exactly? A rest day? hahaha.

Also I am a rather restless person who has a hard time watching movies, with slack time in my schedule, so it is easier to walk, workout, fidget uncontrollably instead of just ‘being’. I totally get this, and that’s how I manage it currently…

But, it’s time for a break! I am going on vacation and going to take it easy. I do have to physically leave my house for this and go somewhere, otherwise the temptation is too great to be busy. Staycations don’t work for me, for that express reason.

So, soon it will be adios for a few weeks, or should I say Ciao!  

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Flow in Sports: A book, a lifestyle, a challenge

I borrowed this book from my friend Sarah and have been working my way through it this week. It’s very interesting and I found myself reading sections of it out loud to my husband–for a non-fiction ‘how-to’ that is pretty unusual!

The crux of sport is the quality of experience, of richness, that it offers.

But how do we recognize ‘flow’ and how do we capture it? I know I have experienced that effortless, ‘flow’ movement running, even racing. Time slows down, my breathing is perfect, my legs feel strong, I feel suddenly effortless and smooth. I am floating! I can DO this!

Sadly, this is also rare and fleeting, and also extremely hard to replicate. Also, I have NOT been able to replicate it in riding. Why? How can I?

The book suggests a few different paths to take to achieve that flow. Here are some of their suggestions on the path to flow:

  1. Challenge-skills balance
  2. Action-awareness merging
  3. Clear goals
  4. Unambiguous feedback
  5. Concentration on the task at hand
  6. Sense of control
  7. Loss of self-consciousness
  8. Transformation of time
  9. Autotelic experience

What would it take to make you happy? You might guess a big TV, a beer, some chips and dip, and a great show on Netflix, but you’re wrong. That would make you relaxed and content, but it would not satisfy you, it would not make you happy for other than a fleeting second.

You have to struggle, overcome and try a challenge to be satisfied with life. We are apparently nothing without an obstacle to overcome= welcome to sports, particularly running and riding!

We have to create challenge, and overcome it. This happens one of two ways- physical and mental. For me, the mental challenge is the biggest! Having confidence in your skills is also incredibly important, you need this ‘I got this’ when going in.

Sometimes that means lowering your goals/challenge from outcomes to process. That means instead of seeking a placing or AG group win, you nail every fence and get smooth changes, or hit the paces you want instead of trying to beat a person.

Here is a good exercise to develop self-awareness: Pick a quiet spot, close your eyes, and focus only on your breathing. Time yourself to see how long you can do this before other thoughts intrude. A minute? Two minutes? It’s tough!

Also a great exercise- keep a notebook on you for 1 whole day, all activities. Write down every time you have a negative thought about yourself. Are there a lot? How are you managing them and refocusing them?

Set smaller, specific, daily goals rather than big, scary ones. You will be happier knowing you’ve ‘won’ instead of constantly trying to get to one that may never happen.

Prepare for competition- have a plan A and a backup plan B. I admit I am really bad at this, and I need to be better. What do you do when the wheels fall off and things go bad? That is when Plan B needs to step in to save the day.

Take advantage of feedback–it can be a game changer if things start sour. Also I am sooo guilty of this: You have a great start and think you’re winning and then things IMMEDIATELY go south. Ie- fall off at the last fence. Not that I’m guilty of that or anything…

You can prevent this by staying in the moment

And, I have an good example of when I was feeling bitter and sour about how badly a race was going and how slow I was, it was hot, the course was extremely hilly and I was just having a shitty time knowing there was no way I was going to get the time I wanted/hoped for. Until I ran up the big hill, I held this bad attitude. And then, a volunteer shouted to me “Hey you’re halfway done!” and I smiled and thought yeah you’re right!

I felt the pressure to get the time I wanted lift off me, and from then on, focused on enjoying the ‘experience’ of the race. It was hot, beautiful, I had lots of Gatorade to drink and hell, the hills were hard but they also meant that I could forget my time-pressure goals. I was loving it!!

Remember: the past is the road to nowhere, the future is a road under construction, and getting back on the right road is what matters!

We can only control the controllables- in running that is your pace, emotions, feelings and hydration/nutrition. In riding, there are a lot more…variables to put it nicely.

To sum this up, I also have another example of when I was SO ready to let the train run off the track, but was able (through a strength I didn’t know I had) re-focus, re-direct and just ‘be okay’ with what was happening.

I had Oats in the warmup at a big show and he was lit up. Bucking in-hand and just excited. I’d slept badly, there was huge drama in the morning with my trainer’s sick horse, so she was having a hard time of it and was distracted and upset, I tacked up Oats by throwing his tack on while he spun in circles wildly…It was just horrible. I was stressed beyond belief and when he was getting nutty, I was just hoping I could stay on.

Nobody knew what the course was, the class descriptions were all over the map, and I was just like, arghhhh.

I got on Oats, and immediately went to work. He spooked a few times, was jiggy and silly, but I know my horse and I know he will work down. So, we did. And I just kept in the moment- ok, trot. Fine, some walk. More circles! Canter. Canter this fence. Canter another fence. And exercise by exercise, he calmed down and I was ready to go show!

Sadly this focus didn’t last – apparently it was too hard for me to maintain it and I fell off in my second round after a fabulous first round- but I was very proud I was able to shake off the external issues (there were MANY) and just do it, by staying focused and present on my horse, in the moment.

And the last tip? Focus on the FUN! Yes, that’s why we do it mostly! There is no better feeling than a big fist-pump when you finish a great course, feeling like freaking Ian Millar! Or giving your all in the last sprint. It is AMAZING!!!!!!

Avalon Derby-Cross photos!

Because my rides have been fun but very boring, instead I am going to share photos that I purchased from the professional photographers at the Derby!

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This one was cute so I bought it! Oats looks so keen. All photos were purchased from Eventus Photography.

I was so happy to see photogs there, that I was definitely going to support them. Win-win!

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Loved this jump photo!

Lately my rides with Oats- jump in the field, flat in the other field, do hill work, do transitions, have fun! I’m enjoying my week with him, no lessons this week as i am preparing to go on vacation. Oats will get a small vacay as well. 🙂 After how busy I have been and he has been, I am SO looking forward to getting some time away. I need it so badly!

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A little paint effect for some fun! Pretty eh?

 

A recipe for a crazy weekend: Track racing, birthday dinner, the beach, horseback riding & Rock the Shores!!

Yep, that’s my weekend right there! Nobody ever accused me of wasting my weekends, that’s for damn sure 🙂

We started the weekend with dinner (steaks! yum) at my parents new house, and a walk to the beach from their place. It’s so close to the water, it’s lovely. They are really happy with the move they’ve made – from boring, blah old Ottawa- to a beautiful new place and unimpeded access to the beach.

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My parent’s card to me…

Saturday I rode Oats first in the ring, to hop over a few jumps, and then moseyed around the field for awhile watching some other riders have a lesson in the field. I’m taking advantage of the field access as much as I can these days. I zipped home after buying grain (ugh, had to drive out to Saanich right after riding to get it) and the weather was SO nice, that we headed straight to the beach at Dallas Rd, with Gidget in tow.

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Back to the field!

We chilled out at the beach for awhile and it was lovely. I couldn’t get too relaxed though, as I had to get home to gear up for my last track race of the season. Meet #3~ I wasn’t sure how things were going to go, as I’ve been battling muscle/leg fatigue on and off for a couple of weeks now, and been struggling on my runs to just complete them. General consensus seems to be: overtraining/overwork. Maybe, maybe…

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At the beach! 

Anyways, we hit the track and I signed up to do a mile, and the 3km. Maybe I got too greedy, because after my mile race (which went..okay I guess…) I was seriously lagging. My 3k felt like I was running in slo-mo, I was falling behind on the track and getting passed. It was kind of a piss-off, because I know I am capable of faster and of running a more competent race, sooo what gives??!!

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Hauling ass? Well, not so much!

I was kind of bummed to fall behind so much in my run, that I lost perspective of what was really the point here: Learn to sprint race without killing my lungs (actually that was a success, as I was coughing much less last night than I ever have!) and learn about pace.

I checked my results this morning, and my mile wasn’t even too shabby: 6:35, and my 3k was lame (13:12- I have run it under 12:30 …) but hey, in the grand scheme it is all a progression and not terrible.

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Sunday I went riding and jumped Oats over the small x-rails in the field= loved it!!! And then immediately felt tired, so walked up and down hills for awhile to build his muscles and give me a break.

I didn’t ride for long because we had Rock the Shores to get to! It was hot hot hot! Things that bugged me- drinks got INSANELY expensive- $8 for a beer? Eff right off with that!

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Rock the Shores from three years ago!

Crowds were good and very manageable, no line-ups, ice cream was lovely, poutine was sooo good and the standout bands were The Arkells and The Eagles of Death Metal. WOW!! Amazing performances, and class acts, both of them. Great sound, excellent vibes. One bummer- Metric really sucked. The sound was lousy, tinny and too high reverb. Also Emily Haines seemed to be doing this thing where she’s play 1 song, and then riff for 10 or more minutes on it…Combined with the lousy sound, it was so.boring. I really like Metric, but this was just…ugh. No thanks. We left early and I didn’t feel like I was missing a thing! Booooooo.

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My buddy and me from three years ago at Rock the Shores.

Got home pretty seamlessly and back to work today. I am tired! 🙂

What more could a girl want?

That’s right, yesterday was my birthday! The big 3-1 for me~

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Celebrating at the barn with a big delicious cake! Thanks Sarah C, you’re the best!

In all honesty, things I have been focusing on overshadowed my b-day- my lesson with Jane Stone on Thursday that I was alternately looking forward to and worried about, my race on Saturday, Rock the Shores on Sunday, and oh, my big upcoming international trip.

So yeah, lots going on eh?

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More presents than I deserve!

But regardless, I had a GREAT birthday! (well, except for the having to be at work part. That part sucked). I hauled ass home from work, ran my dog out, threw on my riding clothes, wolfed down a Clif Bar and immediately got stuck in traffic for 45 minutes. SIGH.

I asked to have our semi-private lesson in the big field when I learned that the girls had so nicely put the jumps out there. A chance to work on my weaker skills at home? Even though I had previously fallen off at the Derby jumping in the field? SURE! Let’s do it. I knew it would be a challenge for me, because of my anxieties.

As it turns out, all my worries and fears were…for naught! Poof!

Jane was very understanding about what I have going on, and we worked it, man! I was really enjoying the lesson, we tried jumping a cavaletti to warm up, normal at first, and then some terrain-work, and then set to land flat and head slightly downhill. Success!

And then we started working on a small course, and it went super fantastic. Oats was so keen, I was loving it. We had a few bobbles- getting straight to a fence and him getting disunited, but it was fine and we worked with it.

I got a lot of confidence out of the lesson and felt so positive about it. Go us! Jane was very complimentary about our horses (who were perfect) and my position~ yay!!

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My second birthday cake- made by my husband! Menagerie on top provided by my sister.

And the cherry on top? A birthday cake at the barn accompanied by good friends and a Palm Bay. Yum!!! I even had more cake at home baked by my husband, who make an amazing cake that I immediately wanted to eat more of, even though I knew it would make me sick….

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It was a good night.

Yep I had cake and more cake with wine instead of dinner last night. So sue me, it’s my birthday!!! 🙂

Don’t give up on your dreams, Buddy!

A busy weekend when I wasn’t really expecting it! My folks moved officially to the Island, so we spent a lot of time with them. Then the time we weren’t eating/visiting, I was riding good ol’ Oats and running (track with my husband for practice, and the trails at Thetis Lake for fun!).

Oats was great this weekend, my rides seemed fairly forgettable in a good way so yesss! Saturday I worked over a pole, and did some straightness work. Easier said than done…

We did something funny on Sunday–I jumped him around a little bit in the ring and he was a bit sassy/tired/balky, so I cut it out after a few jumps and took him to the big field, and we did…Trot sets! To me and Oats, trot sets= my sprinting track work. He was huffing and puffing, ha. Still had enough energy to s

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Running in the field is my favourite says Oats! The dressage part…not so much.

pook right at the end though, going up a hill. What a goof!

This is what we did:

Walk in field. Pick up trot for 3 minutes, and then 2 minutes walk.

Trot for 4 minutes, then 2 minutes walk.

Trot for 5 minutes, then 2 minutes walk.

Back down!

Trot for 4 minutes, then 2 minutes walk.

Trot for 3 minutes, then 2 minutes walk.

Trot for a few minutes (he spooked then, so clearly he had a lot of energy and I lost track of my time…) and then cool-down walk.

This took me to noon, and time to hop off and go home.

Monday I did an equine counselling session and we discussed the show (good at managing challenges, kind of bad at my fall/trying to hold myself together to compete); and Oats’ mystery behaviour on Wednesday- her conclusion was that he was tired. And you know? He was acting so strangely that I totally buy it. Interesting!

Tuesday was my dressage lesson with Karen Brain. We were back out in the field and it was hard work! It was also really cool. We worked on picking up the canter on the ‘up’ side of a hill, incorporating a circle, and then managing the circle to the down-part of the hill. Hilariously, we sucked at it for awhile- I couldn’t seem to manage to keep going on a circle, keep his canter ‘bouncy’ and up instead of sprawling and flat, and make my hands do what I wanted them to!

It got better though, phew. A very neat ride.

And we’re back!

After that strange and disturbing blip on the radar, I’m pleased to say that apparently Oats and I were having an off-day together…And my ride last night was fine, no drama. Strange, isn’t it?

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Get this feeling back!!

Oh well, I will accept it for what it is, and move on. A new day is a new ride.

We didn’t even end up doing too much last night, worked over a small cross-rail a few times, and practiced my eye over a pole on a circle- with mixed results. We finished up by working on my ‘100 trot-canter transitions’ (ok so not even close to 100, but I’m honestly trying hard to incorporate that work into every ride, no matter how much I kind of hate it…).

Oats was fine, I had a bit of a feeling like if I let him have any leeway, he’s get silly and looky, but we stayed focused and had no issues. Back to good ol’ Oats, the horse who was literally sleeping in front of the loudspeaker at the horse show- and it was LOUD! ?!!

Ah, horses. They make you crazy!

This weekend I think might be quieter- I have my parents moving to the island officially, and sadly, my friend’s father’s memorial ceremony on Saturday.