Progress, like life, is not linear

Had an interesting equine counseling session last night. We focus on a few aspects of my life during each session. I usually bring up what I want to focus on or what I am struggling with (my parents, riding, performance anxiety, race performance). We are focusing on my race performance right now, and I have been struggling mightily at races. Mad, disappointed, angry at my body for letting me down, bummed about my slower times, expecting better…You name it, I am feeling it!

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Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.

My last race was good, but the time was not good. It was good because I ran within my ability and I could breathe the whole race. I was quite pleased with that, and I didn’t burn my lungs out like I have been doing.

What’s the difference? For a long time, I have been relying on the cheap fast energy of adrenaline during races. I don’t have a lot of long-term power to back that up, at all. And it burns out too fast, leaving me gasping, heaving, ready to puke, with legs that burn with lactic acid and feel weak within 1km.

This worked really well for me last year. This year, not so much.

My training has been going great, but like last year, it’s pretty much the same (though my long runs are LONGER now, ha). If I keep doing what I’m doing, my body gets used to it, and I adapt very quickly. Problem is…That doesn’t get me faster or more powerful. It gets me very complacent.

So to get better results, and power that I can rely on more, I have to change my training (and my mindset, which is making me slower this season, ha).

This means getting into the uncomfortable zone. Aka faster.

Funny enough, my equine counselor brought up a comment I got from a dressage judge years ago about Oats. “His trot looks very comfortable and easy. I bet you could trot like that all day. It’s not work though, and it’s not the power you need.” She was right! I could cruise on Oats alllllllll day with that lovely, easy trot of his. Problem is, when I wanted ‘more’ trot or collected trot, things fell apart.

She pointed out that my running is remarkably similar. My long runs? Could cruise alllllll day at my little jog-trot. Want more ‘go’ and more power? Falls apart.  Ha, I am Oats. Weird eh?

Life mirrors us in more ways than we think. And for me? I am experimenting with more power moves. 500 metre pick-ups in pace during my long runs, which are killer and I hate them, but I have to do them. Oh and running hills after my rides on Sunday. We’ll see!

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An addiction to power?

Had another equine counseling session last night (and moved my jump lesson to Saturday, as Oats was feeling tired during my friend’s lesson on him on Wed. – probably due to the strenuous dressage lesson we had on Tues).

And, it came out that maybe I ride because I like being powerful, having power, and being able to exercise that power.

And I say- yes that is definitely something that resonates strongly with me.

It is addictive to feel like you can control a 1,000 lb animal- and I get really wrapped up in trying to ‘muscle’ Oats sometimes, which by the way, I NEVER win, hello he weighs like 900 lbs~

I reiterated that I feel like maybe I’m not making progress, but apparently my jumping lessons are saying otherwise. Can progress feel faked or false? Maybe. I still go into my lessons amped up and anxious, but I am noticing that I can bring it down much faster, and the jumps themselves…Well, they are all a learning process. Some ugly, some ‘meh’ and some great, and some good. It all comes out in the wash. Just because they aren’t 100% perfect or flawless rounds doesn’t mean the entire session was a bust!

So, watching my friend ride gave me some of that perspective- her ride was good, but that doesn’t mean it was perfect. Sure they kind of took down some fences in the gymnastic, but you know what it showed me? That other people can have that type of ride on Oats, it’s not all my fault, and they survive and go on to have great jumps too! It’s not a disaster like I always think.

They did have some ugly fences, and they also had really good ones. The last course was lovely! I was very pleased to see him work in a ‘grown up’ mind frame, and his attitude towards other riders and actually working is sooooooo much better now.

So, I hope to go into my next jump lesson with more of an open mind, and not let my brain/anxiety get ahead of me and start anticipating bad things happening- and also not tell my coach immediately that I only want to jump small jumps, hah.

We’ll see!