A vision for my life - Because what we focus on expands

Thursday, September 27, 2007

09/27/07: Stress

Actually, a better title for this post would be Staying out of Stress, but then it wouldn't have captured your attention as much....

I see a lot of people around me constantly stressed, especially at work....They're like hamters on a treadmill, always running around getting their to-do lists done, feeling like they're taking care of things for everyone but themselves, and going nowhere, FAST. The harder they run, the more stressed they get, and the less they move.

Fortunately I was introduced to a fantastic time management system a few years back (actually it's a life management system), and I've had VERY little stress in my life since I started using it....this does have a tie-in to triathlon, so indulge me for a bit.....Triathlon is a great model for approaching "real life."

First, a couple of models for looking at how we spend our time.

The first is called time targets, and there are four of them, based on a combination of importance and urgency:

1. Distraction: Not important and not urgent. Escape time: watching tv, surfing the internet, reading the latest celebrity trainwrecks.....Feel like you have to spend time here? It's mainly a result of spending too much time time in delusion and demand and not enough time in the zone (keep reading)

2. Delusion: Not important, but urgent. Drain on fulfillment...why stress about something urgent if it's not important? Comes from poor planning - mainly became urgent because it wasn't taken care of upstream - A lot of people I work with LIVE here.....in the end, is it really that urgent?

3. Demand: Important and urgent. Firefighting = STRESS...some things just can't be helped sometimes......Great questions to ask: Is it really as important and urgent as I'm making it? Could I (or someone else) have planned for this better up front so that it it wouldn't be urgent now? Poor planning on your part doesn't constitute and emergency on my part, nor does it ensure compliance....enough said.....

4. THE ZONE: Important and NOT urgent = fulfillment - not stressful since it's not urgent. Eg. Planning/brainstorming, exercising, reading and learning, time with those important to us BEFORE they're begging for our attention

One more quick model and I'll get to my point (yes, there is a point to all of this). We can focus our time and energy in a few different areas:

1. Things we can control
2. Things we can't control, but can influence
3. Things we can't control or influence

Now to my point: training for an ironman creates lots of time in the zone and keeps me focused on things I can control.....

For most of us, perception is everything when it comes to training, since we're doing this for fun. Last time I checked I wasn't a professional athlete (that would take speed and athletic talent, both of which I'm lacking).

Even though I occasionally complain about "having" to go on a 5-6 hour bike ride, or 3 hour run, or any time I "have to" go to the pool, it's a choice. And it's a choice that has long term consequences.

Fortunately they're really good and positive consequences.....long term health benefits, consistent and focused effort, doing things even when I don't necessarily feel like doing them, determination, meeting lots of other athletes, both locally and through my blog...

All of these things are most definitely important and not urgent. IM training gives me somewhere between 10-20 hours every week in the zone. It's time for me. Training is most definitely important, yet certainly not very urgent.

As a side benefit, training forces all of us doing this crazy sport to focus on what's in our control, like it or not. Can't control (or even influence) the weather, getting a flat tire, whether I feel good or bad in a particular day (like last Saturday)....What I can control is my focus: I'm doing this because I choose to and enjoy the challenge....I can control my pace and intensity....I can control my nutrition both before, during, and after a workout.....and I can control how many different options I create for myself when life doesn't cooperate (indoor pool, spin class, training early in the morning or late at night)....

I was watching the Biggest Loser this morning while on the bike trainer (thank god for TIVO), and was laughing when a few of the people were bitching about how they didn't like running, and didn't like the food, and didn't like getting up early, blah blah blah....Finally the trainer told them to shut up and do it anyway....Because in the end, when somethings important, the excuses go out the window and you find a way to get it done.....

I guess my point here is that triathlon training is a fantastic model for life in general:

1. Take time for you for things that are important and not urgent...with a bit of planning and taking care of things upstream, a LOT of urgency can be avoided entirely....

2. Focus on things that you can control. If you can't control it, or at least influence it, skip it and find another way....

3. Speaking of, it it's important, find a way to get it done.....

Now that I'm done philosphizing, workouts have been good this week so far. Tuesday morning was 1.25 hours on the trainer, "enjoying" one of Coach Troy's Spinnervals DVDs(sadistic bastard), and Tuesday night was 3k in the pool.

Last night was this week's long run. 17 miles in 2:45, for a pace of 9:42 / mile. It was my first really good run in a while. I went easy for just about the whole run, keeping my hr at the top of zone 1 (145 ish), just jogging along. To work on building some good muscular endurance (and mental endurance), I threw in a hard 10 minute interval every 30 minutes, getting my hr up to the top of zone 2/bottom of zone 3 (165ish). The last interval was definitely a bit of a challenge, since I had already run over 15 miles at that point, which means I got a BIG payoff from sucking it up and running through the pain of that one.

Needless to say I DID NOT want to get up at 5:30 this morning for another hour on the bike trainer...as always, I felt MUCH better after the workout than I did before it....makes getting up early at least a bit more manageable....and besides, it was time well spent in the zone....

Live with purpose....Enjoy the adventure

2 comments:

Meggan Ann said...

First, thanks for the encouragement. I feel like I never work out. And yes, only in FL is 80 cool! Ha! Second . . . I always have a hard time reminding myself that some things [i]just aren't under my control[/i] . . . so I know exactly what you mean.

How's mommy?

HOKIEX said...

Yes, thanks for motivation. Coming off my Half Ironman, I've taken a couple weeks off with only a couple workouts since. It's great to take the time and heal, but it's time to get going again.