T-24 Great Expectations
I’ve spent a good deal of time reflecting this week on last week’s run and just why it was so bad. There was no physical reason for why it went quite the way it did and the external conditions - terrain and temperature - were right in my comfy sweet spot (mostly flat and cold). After an extensive debrief with the co-CEO of this plan (otherwise known as Coach Chris), the consensus is that my expectations got ahead of the current reality:
Expectation: it was going to all be as easy as the two sneaky “test” intervals conducted a couple of days pre-run
Reality: the test intervals were done at the start of a Thursday run on fresh legs, the Sunday run was done the day after a swim-bike brick session
Expectation: visualising success will be the only mental technique I need to complete the run
Reality: when the physical unravelling started, I didn’t have a proven mental technique immediately to hand - 9min intervals are probably the longest uninterrupted running I’ve done in a few years so I’m mentally out of practice
So a couple of big learnings from one run which is going to take a few weeks of practice to come to terms with. There has been a longer term learning that I need to deal with and that’s the mental challenge of managing my own expectations. Part of our debriefing this week was that we can practice to a set of numbers for the next 5 and a bit months but there are going to be some uncontrollable variables on race day that are going to make the numbers moot. It might be rainy, it might be windy, it might be horrendously hot, or terribly cold, it might even be all of the above and whatever times and expectations I might have set myself and be emotionally invested in will be unrealistic and it will be Sunday’s run on a much bigger scale.
A large part of the impetus for doing this was a commitment I made to a team I led last year and, in the context of building a team that embraced personal and professional development, we used a concept of being on the edge of your map. Venturing into unchartered waters was how the New World (and I guess some of the “Old” world) was discovered and this is analogous to our own pathway of growth. It’s a voyage into the unknown which is terrifying, exhilarating and gratifying all at once. The start and the end are the visible and exciting parts but its the hours, days and weeks spent traversing the unknown, largely alone, when we chart our own course and write our own maps. It’s where we learn the width of our capacity, the depths of our resilience and the heights of our capability. I thought that my voyage to Taupo would challenge me physically and I knew that there would be some mental and emotional development but I have truly underestimated just how confronting some of this development is and continues to be.
So I’ve had cause to wonder: is the key to managing my own expectations to become more intuitive?
That is a terrifying sentence for me. I’m the person who lines up the forks in the drawer, whose desk is spartan with all elements aligned, where every coat hanger in the wardrobe is identical and facing the same way and who lives in and loves wallowing around in absolute measurements of things. In short, I exert control of as many variables as I can because it keeps me focused, organised and its the foundation for all professional and personal successes I’ve had to date.
Here is another confronting little thought: I’m not very good a trusting other people. It’s a very short list indeed of people who have been allowed inside my head. We’re talking low single digits here. Is not trusting others more about not trusting myself?
So, is the exertion of control over all my variables (the setting of hard metrics and my almost myopic focus on my numbers) whilst working for me for now, really about not yet trusting myself to stick this out? I don’t know and if I think too much about it, it’s like standing at the edge of a cliff with that hollow, gut-drop you get when you peer over the edge.
TSS: I’m not going to track this anymore. And I’m kind of grieving about this right now. But I don’t get to spend a fair few hours wrestling with all of which is written above and not do anything about it right?
CTL: 44 so holding this week and which I’m happy with.
Quote of the week
The secret was such an old one now, had so grown into me and become a part of myself, that I could not tear it away.
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations