Friday, August 05, 2005

Accountability


Since I work for a small printing and graphic design company, I have the ability to design and print a custom tri training log (acutal paper, not virtual) for myself every year. It has evolved over the past three years as I fine tune what's important and what's not, record goals achieved and set new ones...it's nice to be able to look thru the old logs and see where I've come from and to have a good way to look forward too.

Page 3 is titled "Why I Tri." It's numbered from 1-100 and each season I find that I have more and more reasons to keep at it so I add these reasons in...I'm up to about 45 reasons why I find it necessary to participate in this craziness. But it's reason #31 that I've been thinking a lot about lately:

To improve my accountability to myself.

Flatman and The Kahuna have touched on it lately, both are posting their workouts and both have made reference to the fact that it'll help to keep them accountable for actually doing the workouts. I think whatever helps you stick to a plan is a good thing. But there's one word in #31 that I just can't get my arms around: MYSELF.

Accountable to MYSELF.

Now I'm a pretty reliable, responsible and accountable person when I know other people are depending on me and/or when the consequences of being irresponsible are negative. If I say I'll do something for you, I'm going to do it or I'll let you know with lots of lead time (and hopefully a damn good excuse) that I can't do it. I pay bills on time. I register to vote AND I go vote. I keep my car inspected. I'm basically your typical goody goody...I don't like when things feel out of control or don't get handled. It just causes too much chaos. I like to simplify.

But when it comes to being accountable to MYSELF and my goals for triathlon, I fail in every arena.

I say I'm going to eat healthier food and watch my calorie intake. To eat poorly is a way of hurting this body I've been given. I want to take care of it and make it last...so I feel good and so I save myself some money on health care later on in life. Eating well is a way to treat myself well. I don't take drugs or drink or smoke - I don't even drink coffee - because those are all bad things to do to my body. Being 40 lbs. overweight is just as unhealthy. I say all this, in my head I know it's true and I also know that I want to feel good. But 10 minutes later I'm stopping at the ice cream stand because that's what is going to make me feel good right then. I'm not accountable to anyone but myself on this front. It's my choice to have the ice cream or not...and it's SO easy to say I'll just have it today, just this once...you know the routine.

I plan to do a bike/run brick on Wednesday. I'm going to get up early because I want to get on an early workout schedule. The alarm goes off. I shut it off and decide I need the sleep - I swam early yesterday and I'll swim early tomorrow...I'll run at lunch time and bike tonight (brick out the window). At lunch time, it's too hot to run...I'll do the brick tonight when I get home. Then I have to go the grocery store (well, not really, it could've waited but I'd rather do that than the brick). Then when I get home, it looks like there's a thunderstorm brewing so I better stay put. I have no one to answer to for the failure to get it done. No one but myself. Yes, there's a negative consequence: I'm not working to reach my goals...but somehow it doesn't compute for me. Is it that I don't like myself enough to hold myself accountable? I don't think I can reach the goals I set so I don't try? They're not unrealistic goals... Somehow, I (in capital type) am not important enough to myself to make sure things get done. What's UP with that? That's not how I want to treat myself. And yet, that's the way it goes...day after day.

I'm one of the maybe five folks in my morning Masters swim program that show up to every practice. I know that the reason for this is that I somehow feel accountable to the people there to show up. My coach travels 30 minutes to get there, twice a day, two times a week...so I feel bad for her if only a few people show up. Weasel Boy gives me crap if I don't go and I dish it right back to him when he bails. It's fun, I always learn something new and it's social. Most of the core group are triathletes so we swap stories and info about upcoming races and recent accomplishments. Even when I don't feel like going, I go because I'm always glad I did. I've established accountability to the group and the coach and my swimming has improved dramatically. The SELF accountability now comes into play when I make sure to lead the lane and always push myself. No complacency, right?

But when it comes to biking, running, strength training, nutrition...I'm totally not getting the job done. And I'm totally frustrated with myself. Is the answer to get a tri coach, someone who I have to answer to when I don't do the work...like a piano teacher that can totally tell when you didn't practice? I know without a doubt that I would respond to this...that I would do the work, especially if there were others being coached with me at the same time. But right now I can't afford a coach...and truthfully, what I REALLY want to get to the bottom of is why I can't seem to do it for myself. Is self-accountability a learned behavior? It's time for me to learn it...NOW.

I've been exploring whether or not I'm burned out on triathlon...and I really don't think so. It kind of sounds like I am...like maybe I should go pick up a golf club or a kayak paddle and lighten up. I probably do need to do those things...but I feel so good when I'm in a good training routine. It gives me purpose and I'm an athlete, not a couch potato. Why is that not enough to keep me going?

One theory I have: When I first decided to train for a triathlon back in 2001, it was to have a goal other than weight loss. I weighed 200 lbs., I was ridiculously out of shape and I hated how I looked and how I felt. I was about to turn 30 and it was time to do something about my health. I lost 20 lbs pretty easily over that year and did my first race in July of 2002...it wasn't pretty but it was enough to get me hooked. I did 3 sprints in 2003, 2 sprints and an olympic dist. race in 2004 and so far this summer I've done a half marathon, a sprint and half of an olympic race (bike crash) and I have two more sprints and another half marathon coming up...

...and I still weigh 180 lbs. And I still feel like my weight is the single biggest factor that's holding me back from excelling at this sport.

So perhaps I'm somehow feeling like all this training, all this working out...it's not really getting me the results I set out for...so what's the point? I was accountable to myself for a long time, I worked out EVERY DAY but the weight just stopped coming off.

I know it all has to do with calories in and calories used...and long slow distance training...I know all that. I need to do more, to do longer sessions - more than 1 hour...to eat better food and less of it...

I don't think I've given myself a chance to see how my weight responds to LSD workouts as I've mostly been training for sprints...and I know I haven't given my nutrition enough attention. Perhaps this will be my starting point. Today I will do a long slow bike ride. I'm going to give myself until October 1st, my half marathon and last race of the season, to see how I respond. I'm not going to pick a weight and try to get there, I'm just going to give myself a chance to get SOMEwhere rather than being frustrated for not getting ANYwhere. Truthfully, I haven't been doing the right things to get me there. Today I will start.

Today is accountability day #1, to be accountable to myself. I'm posting a picture of myself...so I'm looking into my own eyes as I say that I can learn this skill - to answer to myself and be proud of how far I've come...and how far I will go.

4 Comments:

Blogger Flatman said...

Wow. This is an incredible post and a very personal look inside of your mind and what makes you tick. We are so alike in several ways.

Unlike you, for many years now, I have told myself I wanted "THAT BODY". You know the one. Ripped abs, shredded muscles, 0% bodyfat..right?

I have fought with myself about diet. I have fought with myself about weights, running, any kind of cardio. I do good for a couple of months and then splat.

My wife is ripped and in awesome shape and always has been. It is my contention that if she wanted to, she could kick my ass in any of the three disciplines of triathlon. Good thing she doesn't want to!

I want to do this for her and me. I want her to look at me and be proud of what I have accomplished with my body.

I have done better lately and I think this blog community has a lot to do with it. I feel like someone is watching me for progress. I also think that setting a long term "what the hell was I thinking" goal, like my marathon in December, has kicked my brain into gear.

But, there is alway that little voice in my head that says, "Pull into McDonalds...no one will ever know."

Well, I know, Damnit!

Thank you for posting this and know that I will be watching and encouraging you from afar.

Keep up the good work and have a good ride tonight!!!!

11:24 AM GMT-5

 
Blogger Wil said...

We are TOO much alike, you're freaking me out. You can do anything that you set your mind to, and I have no doubt that you'll get where you want to go - keep that focus, and know that there are a ton of people out here cheering for ya!

7:31 PM GMT-5

 
Blogger tri-mama said...

Thanks for such an open post. I agree, it is hard to keep up the steady, consistent pressure of training. I always find the mentally draining aspect the most difficult. A couple things from a professional standpoint- yes calories in-calories out is a the basis of the weight foundation, there are a few other things to consider. You might benefit from a vit/min supplement, and -don't laugh- but trying something like Cortislim can be helpful. I took that for 8 months, and it helped me break that weight barrier that seemed immovable. There are ingredients that help fire up your metabolism-some nutrients that might have become depleted in your first round of wt loss, that supplementing might help with. It really works in curbing your appetitie so that you can respond better to just hunger etc. I stopped taking it after dropping 20 and none of the wt has returned-just a thought.

Keep us posted as well-now that you've mentioned accountabiity-we'll be watching- and cheering for you :)

7:59 AM GMT-5

 
Blogger Spence said...

Thanks guys! I'm glad you're watching...it does help, even though I still want it to come from within. It will...I just have to be patient.

Tri-Mama, THANKS for the nutrition advice...I'll look into it and see what my Dr. says...zap me your email if you get a second as I'd love to pick your brain...if you're willing, that is!!

8:22 AM GMT-5

 

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