I have a few bad habits that are 1) hard to break; and 2) not helping with my triathlon training at all. The main culprit, from which all bad things stem, is my lack of self-control. The lack of self-control is especially prevalent after IMLP, it's a pattern every year. I establish and keep good habits in the weeks leading up to the race and then go hog wild post-race in terms of food (oreo cake anyone?), staying up far too late (1am suddenly becomes an acceptable bedtime, especially when immersed in a good book), and skipping workouts (who needs to swim anyway?). This is fine for the first two weeks, even encouraged (see: falling off training wagon and destroying said wagon in the process). But after that, especially if I have more races on my schedule, those habits are detrimental (and suddenly very hard to break, wow do those brownies look good for breakfast and who cares if it's seven am). So, in what areas of my life do I lack self control and what am I going to do about it, because really, things cannot go on as they are. Out. Of. Control.
1) The smartphone. I think Mr. Sweetie rues the day that he convinced me to buy a smartphone. I'd resisted getting a smartphone for awhile, content with my phone that had a keypad and made texting easier and faster, and saw no need for a smartphone since everyone around me had one so I could just use theirs to look up something. But now, I have my own and developed the terrible habit of picking it up literally before I've even gotten out of bed in the morning, just to check one thing and suddenly it is 30 minutes later and I've caught up with everyone's lives on FB and Twitter but hey, how is that morning workout coming along, oh right, it's not. Guess I'm running after work. Or how about this - in the evening I'm like a moth to a bright light as I lay in bed, lamps off, glued to the lit screen of my silly iPhone, scrolling through social media for no good reason except that I can't put it down. Suddenly it's midnight and I'm probably not going to wake up in time to make swim practice the next morning. Guess who is swimming after work. Or maybe not at all. Shame. There were a couple times in the past week that I went smartphone/computer/internet free for the evening when I arrived home and it was really refreshing and I suddenly had lots more free. Imagine that. I need to make an active decision to limit my use of technology, maybe even designate a few nights computer/smartphone-free.
2) The chocolate. Category not confined to chocolate chips. The tin of seasalt brownies sitting in our pantry count too (OK, there is only one brownie left, singular, the rest I had for breakfast). If I buy it, I will eat it. All. At once. Perfect example - in college, our family friend Karen sent me a care package that contained a big back of fun-sized Snickers bars. Instead of consuming them over a long period of time, I polished off the bag in a day. A calorie is a calorie and what difference does it make if I consume all the calories in one sitting vs. a couple weeks. Plus, this way they are out of sight faster. Poor logic. We try not to keep chocolate (or chips or goldfish or cereal) in the house because those are triggers for loss of self control. Some people eat a bowl of cereal for breakfast and I often lose count of how many times I refill my bowl for breakfast. I really need to set my mind to it that I'm going to avoid unhealthy food and I need to consciously choose to pick up a fruit or vegetable vs something of low nutrition value. It's all about making an effort and sometimes I simply choose not to make the effort because it's easier and more tempting to just stick my hand in the cereal box instead. And once I choose to make better food choices, I can't allow myself to slip up because it's all or nothing and one mini egg leads to the consumption of a Costco-size bag. In the weeks leading up to an important race, I am good at setting my mind to keeping myself in check, usually because I really WANT to do well at whatever race it is. I can feel it click in my mind that I'm not going to slip up and I actually take pleasure in choosing the good-for-you-food. Now I just need to figure out how to make that click happen on demand.
3) The workout skipping. Completely acceptable the week after Ironman. Far less acceptable when you can no longer see your A race in the rearview mirror. Every season needs a break, obviously, it's healthy for body and mind. But there are breaks and there are excessive breaks peppered with excuse-making. I did manage to do just about all of my workouts this past week, but I've been less than thrilled with going to the pool and that is the first piece that has gone. Part of my problem is that I've been letting myself stay up far too late, making it difficult to wake up on time. The other part of the problem is that I don't commit to AM swim practice the night before. 10pm rolls around and I say well, it's a bit late for the 5:30am practice, but maybe I will do the 7am practice instead. But I don't fully commit (and sometimes I don't even pack my bag the night before, convinced I will have time to pull my stuff together the next morning - hahaha, joke is always on me). I've found that I'm most successful at making it to swim practice, especially early swim practice, when I commit to it the night before, pack my stuff, go to bed early, and don't let myself even think about going to the later practice or skipping it - I don't let myself consider those things options.
4) The loss of focus. I'll admit that I half-ass some of my workouts in those weeks getting back into the swing of things. I have a bit of a hard time transitioning from optional workouts - where the point is just to get out and move - to the harder stuff where I'm supposed to hit paces and where the purpose is more than to just get out and move. I've found that it helps to read the workout beforehand (as in the day before hand, not as I'm putting my shoes on to go out the door, or else it never fails that I'm in for a rude surprise when I realize Jen has put a butt-kicking workout on the schedule. It's how it always happens). This morning was a good example - I thought I just had my first long run in awhile. I didn't realize, until I'm dressed and heading out the door, taking a closer look at the Training Peaks email, that it called for things like faster-than-half-ironman pace (and really, the paces she was specifying were faster than my fastest half ironman pace. 10k pace anyone?). I had to gather my whits quickly and be mentally prepared to find the hurt locker during this run, and I'm not always able to find the hurt locker on such short notice. Fortunately it worked out, but today was a good reminder to BE AWARE of what's coming and prepare myself. Then I'm less likely to lose focus and make excuses.
I think the above about covers my training vices. The first step towards breaking bad habits is recognizing their existence. So there's that. Monday is a new day and a new week and I'm making it my intention, ACTIVELY COMMITTING to going to early swim practice tomorrow morning. Tonight I'm leaving the smartphone downstairs, along with the computer, and I WILL NOT eat that last chocolate brownie that's calling me from the pantry. Now if only there was a way to save me from my Kindle...