Love the Process

Stuck in the daily crawl home after work on Monday night got me thinking. And, no, amazingly enough not thinking about the anxiety-inducing level of traffic I was in (spew!); it got me thinking about the last seven months – where I’ve been, where I am now and where I’m going. It turned into a pretty incredible 60+ minute journey home, realising just how far I’ve come and what I’ve achieved. I was all ‘hashtag inspired’ that even my #mondaymotivation post on Insta that night was all… #lookhowfarivecome – apologies to anyone that follows me if it was all a little bit obnoxious and all “look at me”.

A few months ago (after Challenge Melbourne, to be exact) a friend sent me a message on Facebook, which went a little something like this:

“Hey, huge congrats on today, it has really inspired me. This may sound slightly/majorly cheeky, but what do you think has driven such a big improvement? My PB is almost identical to your previous PB but it’s been hovering at that level for years, I’d love to find a way to improve it!”

OK so, I’m going to pre-empt the following by saying I do not have all the answers. For the most part, I’m just following coach’s orders! But here’s a little bit of a peek into how I’ve changed things up to achieve what I thought was once impossible.

Consistency. Yep, no magic here – it’s not a revolutionary concept. Staying consistent works. And one way to achieve consistency is to stop dreaming and start doing. Stop thinking about crushing those big goals and just get out there, be willing to start, get rid of your ego and start doing what needs to be done, every day.     

Get over yourself! Or largely your self-doubt. I’ve struggled with this because for the most part, I’ve always felt like an imposter, like I’m not good enough, like I’m not really an “athlete”, like I’m not meant to be here. But you know what? Why not me? Why can’t it be me who is qualifying for big things? The moment I stopped with the self-doubt, got over myself, let go of my ego, and stripped it all back – that was the moment my mindset shifted, and it all fell into place.

This is a lifestyle. I always find it interesting how some triathletes seem to go from one lifestyle extreme to the next. It’s either they’re completely focused on training for one big event, eating properly, avoiding alcohol, going to bed early, but then when it’s all over they swing completely the other way (think: partying every weekend, poor food choices… poor lifestyle habits). This used to be me, 100%. I would train hard for maybe three months and boom – once the event was over I was back to being a couch potato! And I totally get that we all need some downtime. Absolutely! A break from the daily grind is essential. But this massive 180-degree swing in lifestyle would ultimately lead to a very extended post-race break, and three months later, I’d be unfit, lazy, back in poor habits and back to square one. No wonder I didn’t see any real results over the years. The moment I changed my mindset to thinking about my hobby (because let’s face it – unless you’re actually making money from this sport, it is just a hobby!) as a lifestyle, things changed. Getting out the door has been a whole lot easier – I don’t train because I have to, I train because I want to, and it’s who I am… it’s a lifestyle choice.

If you want it bad enough…! If you want something bad enough, you’ll do whatever it takes to get it. Period. Admit it! You know this is true. On the flip side, if your goal isn’t really something you want to achieve, you will find every excuse possible not to do the work you have to, in order to achieve that goal. I’ve had to make some pretty significant changes to make things work for me over the last seven months:

    • I get up at 4am most-all mornings (apart from weekends) to get my training in before work.
    • I’ve completely overhauled my nutrition/diet to help manage my skin/eczema so that I can train without too much medical drama.
    • I’m a hawk with my time. For example, I will do most of my run sessions at lunchtime to make the most of my lunch hour and because I know that motivating myself to train after work is a lot harder than getting the session done at lunchtime. This then frees me up to spend a little bit of extra time with friends/family in the evenings.
    • I do my weekend sessions mostly on my own. I have things on, on weekends (particularly on Saturdays), some of which are non-negotiable. So, to make things work, coach tailors my training plan around my other weekend commitments. This means that I do a lot of my long training solo – not necessarily a bad thing; it helps train the mental strength. But I get it done, and there’s no issue/frustration/anxiety with having to miss the other things because of training. It also means that my Sunday’s are all about training and my family/friends are all on board with this – non-negotiable.

Think outside the box. This probably leads on from wanting it bad enough. With managing my time, commute and work hours, while also wanting to become better at this sport – especially at swimming – I looked around at local swim squads that I could join and that I could get to; that didn’t start too early (because, sleep!) or too late (gotta get to work on time, especially during deadline week). For me, the key to staying consistent and ticking training boxes has been making it as easy as possible to get to training/to get training done. And this has meant thinking outside the standard box at times.

Ultimately, I love the process – perhaps more than I love to race. Racing makes me more nervous than I’d like it to, whereas training is my happy place. I love nothing more than spending a Saturday morning doing yoga and then going out for my long run. For me, there’s no better way to spend a Sunday than out on the bike rolling through the hills or by the beach – it’s magic. And, I even love the ridiculously early mornings during the week – the time I have all to myself before anyone else is up. Knowing I’ve achieved so much before 7am while the rest of the world is only just waking up – that’s pretty cool.

So, maybe, really that’s the ticket to success – actually loving what you do and having the drive and the desire to constantly improve. I don’t know? But what I do know is: this has worked for me so far. And South Africa is only the beginning 🙂 …

Well, mainly because I couldn’t sleep one night, so I decided to sign up for the Melbourne Marathon (*insert facepalm here*)… Couldn’t have just Internet shopped like a normal person, could I? LOL

Until next time!

~ Margy Margs


Margaret Mielczarek

Margaret Mielczarek is the deputy editor at Australian Triathlete Magazine and writes the web series 'Shenanigans of a Deputy 2.0'. She is a passionate age-group triathlete and four-time Ironman finisher - currently in training for Ironman number five!

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