22 March 2012

Fake It 'Til You Make It...

This month's Men's Health magazine (Mr. Sweetie subscribes to it, I read it) had an article on faking it. Faking it at work, faking happiness, faking smiles, faking empathy, faking it with your friends, and faking confidence, etc etc etc. The article cited an example of an experiment a Harvard psychologist conducted where a group of 16 elderly men were recruited to live in a monastery for a week. Half were instructed to reminisce about the year 1959, a year of their youth; the other half actually lived like it was 1959, watching the same TV shows, listening to the same music, talking about that era's world events like it was actually in the present, not many decades in the past. At the end of the week, those who lived like it was 1959 scored better on a battery of tests and were rated by observers as actually looking younger than their counterparts who only reminisced about 1959. Bottom line of this story, the Harvard psychologist posits that if you think you are healthier, you will actually become healthier.

So, how does this tie into triathlon? If I think I am faster, will I actually become faster? Of course faking it isn't a substitute for actual hard work, sufficient sleep, and a healthy diet. But triathlon does have a psychological element to it. Confidence in myself during training, and especially races, isn't one of my strong suits. Last season was a breakthrough for me in terms of learning how to race and not letting my head get in the way; however, there is still so much more for me to learn and figure out. The run has been my nemesis for awhile now, even though I was a runner before I ever picked up triathlon. I feel like I stay strong on the swim and bike, but falter (both mentally and physically) on the run. Maybe it's because I expect more of myself on the run portion since that's the discipline in which I have the most experience - anytime I experience any gains in the swim or bike I am thrilled, and anytime I don't do well in those, I chalk it up to inexperience. But the gains in my running haven't been enough to satisfy me and I always wonder if I could do better, if I could be faster, if my half ironman run time could be closer to my open half marathon time. So this season will be the season of faking it until I make it on the run. Not only will I work hard during my training runs, I'm going to make an effort to be mentally plugged in, both during workouts and during races. I'm going to run with confidence - confidence in my abilities and confidence in myself that I can be faster. I'm going to make it a top priority not to mentally crack during the run portion of triathlon. I'm going to stop paying such close attention to my splits, turn my mind off, and run on feel. I'm going to find that hurt locker and put my legs into it. This is the year of faking it until I make it.


liveNlovelyfe said...

GO Carol Go!!! You already have everything you need to be a winner...it's already inside of you. A little faked confidence will only add to the pot of greatness that already exist. So, I say, FAKE ON and KICK BUTT!!!

Following your journey is really inspiring, especially for I who have become a fitness freak over the last year...lol

I aspire to be as strong and dedicated as you one day!! :)

Go Carol GO!!!

AndyLipscomb said...

It definitely shows when people race without confidence. I like to use visualization techniques before a race, which helps me calm down and focus. Specifically, I will visualize running with a strong gait and perfect form late in the race, just about the pass the guy in front of me.

Karen said...

As a long time runner, of course you will see big gains in cycling and swimming, and you will probably continue to, but they are just catching up with your mad run skills. Perhaps last year was your year to improve on the bike and swim, and this year the run will be yours! But even if your run stays the same, focus on your gains and feel good about them! Triathlon isn't three different races, it is one race. And it doesn't matter how you beat that girl in front of you, it only matters that you beat her!

And don't THINK that you are fast, KNOW that you are fast, because you ARE!! Faking it won't work if you think you are faking it :)

And don't forget to have fun...that always helps :)

Sarah said...

running by feel is the best thing I think, even though I have a hard time doing it myself.

Kgo said...

You don't appear to be faking it at all, Ms. All-American HM: http://www.usatriathlon.org/rankings/past-rankings.aspx Way to go, Caroline!

Dawn said...

Very interesting. I saw that article and others like it; the simple thought that we all "fake it" should give us a little confidence boost, at work and in sports. Last year was also the first year I started learning to race and get control of the mental part....still a long way to go. Like Andy, visualization exercises help me. During the race--especially the run--I pick out people ahead of me to pass one by one; it's a series of adrenaline rushes, and forces a negative split if you piok the right targets :) KNOW you have the training, discipline, and power in you and your body will do it!

Caroline said...

@Precious - I've been enjoying following you on your healthy lifestyle journey! Let me know if you ever want to give triathlon a whirl :)
@Andy and Dawn - I am going to have to try some of those visualization techniques.
@Karen - I miss racing with you. And I like how you think - I will take gains in whatever form they come!
@Sarah - I raced by feel alot last year and loved it!
@Kgo - you are too sweet!