It’s not without embarrassment that this weeks blog is inspired by Girls Aloud. Not least because now I’ve confessed to listening to them! A feat only surpassed by my first husband finding a secret stash of ‘Spice Girls’ CD’s in my knicker drawer.
‘Revolution in the head don’t count for nothing
You gotta, you gotta move that ass
Revolution in the head don’t count for nothing
You gotta, you gotta beat the past’
kind of sums up the last couple of weeks.
We were aware, of course, that a plan of some form has been coming together. Inspiration from the Ironman in Lanzarote. Peter entailed to look after weight loss and core strength. An offer from a new spin studio set up here in Ashtead with very obliging rates and access to the swimming pool at Downsend School with resident life guard. Yes, things have very much fallen into place. But one key ingredient was missing. None, so far, have focused specifically on the mental aspects of training and endurance exercise. An integral part of any training programme.
An intriguing e-mail popped into the in-box a couple of weeks ago. It was followed by a meeting a day or two later. Sue is a hypnotherapist and NLP practitioner based in Bookham clinic Fine Fettle, multi-healthcare. Her premise was a quid pro quo offer to work with Alan and myself in our quest for success at Ironman Austria. She would offer hypnotherapy and ‘mind training’ and in return would get some valuable experience working with endurance athletes.
Her offer was so serendipitous I could have hugged her. Esoteric practices have always had their intrigue and I was immediately keen to see if hypnotherapy could help. So, I wholeheartedly agreed so long as she definitely got something out of the relationship.
I was slightly nervous prior to the first session. Primarily because I was not sure what to expect. Sue, confident and friendly welcomed me to the practice and immediately set me at ease. We chatted through the areas where she could possibly help. Weight loss is an obvious one but we also discussed mental approach to training and racing specifically around attitude. The hypnotherapy in this session proved to be a ten minute relaxation session set to music. Although I had a good old debate half way through that if I could debate whether I was under or not was I under? It was a bit…‘if a tree falls and there is no one around to hear it’ so in the end I just let Sue’s voice wash over me and enjoyed the opportunity to relax.
So far we’ve had two sessions and Sue is proving to be an observant and influential mentor.
The primary focus of her work has been on thought processes. Focusing on the dialogue that runs through my head during training:
The premise is the use of negative words. Much more eloquently explained here. Essentially, the head cannot process negative words. It has to first process the positive and then convert it to negative. Consider the phrase, ‘Don’t think about a pink elephant’. You can’t not think about it, unless you first think about it. We discovered it was exactly the same on approach to exercise and diet.
‘I can’t have’ in relation to food becomes ‘I choose not to’
”That session was hard’ becomes ‘that session was not easy’ in the hope the head gets stuck on the word ‘easy’ and so reinforces that sentiment.
But, the most progress I’ve made is by turning ‘I can’t into ‘I can’. It could almost be the first line of a self help pamphlet. It appears I’m really good at saying ‘I can’t. It followed me round the first ladder session with Pete like a lost puppy. ‘Run faster Nicky’, ‘I can’t’. ‘Keep at that pace Nicky, ‘I can’t.
It was no wonder I couldn’t.
The second session was more structured but almost as bad. Pete was a neat cut figure with great technique, me, a mass of arms and legs flailing as I staggered behind him.
But by the third, thanks to Sue, I made huge progress just by believing that I could.
‘I can’ has transposed into a 22mph cycle average in the final 4 miles of the Concorde Tri last week. A 7lb weight loss in three weeks. A maximum HR of 168 in the latest spin class and an average of 15.3mph in the 12 mile cycle ride home from Maison du Velo today. So, with a brushed up and positive mental approach, the targets are no longer a ‘Revolution in my head’ but a lifestyle that is becoming a reality.