Carrie Cheadle - Mental Skills Training Coach http://carriecheadle.com Master your mental game & take control of your sport performance Wed, 26 Nov 2014 21:56:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 How to give yourself a break if you had to take a breakhttp://carriecheadle.com/give-break-take-break/ http://carriecheadle.com/give-break-take-break/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 17:23:24 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/?p=4135 One of the biggest myths in this life is that you’re supposed to be able to always, at all times, achieve a perfect balance in every aspect your life. No matter what life throws your way, you should be able to seamlessly handle it while still maintaining perfect balance of everything else. And if you […]

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Forced to take a break from your sport

Forced to take a break from your sport?

One of the biggest myths in this life is that you’re supposed to be able to always, at all times, achieve a perfect balance in every aspect your life. No matter what life throws your way, you should be able to seamlessly handle it while still maintaining perfect balance of everything else. And if you don’t, it clearly means that you are a loser and are failing at life. Well I call bullshit.

While you’re busy training and competing sometimes life happens. You get a new job, you have a baby, you get injured … something in your life shifts and takes you away from your sport for a while. Whether you jumped ship, made the reluctant choice, or your hand was force –  it can be challenging to get back into training and competition after a long hiatus.

This Mental Training Tips podcast focuses on one of the biggest challenges you will face as you return to your sport: managing your expectations so you can keep your confidence and motivation intact. It’s easy to get frustrated with yourself as you get back into training and competition and realize that you aren’t performing to the same level that you were before you took a break. Listen to this podcast to get tips on how to be patient and persistent in your return to competition.

 

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Don’t Get Psyched Out by the Competitionhttp://carriecheadle.com/dont-get-psyched-competition/ http://carriecheadle.com/dont-get-psyched-competition/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 16:40:29 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/?p=4126 Have you ever had the experience of going into a game or race feeling great, only to look over and get psyched out by your competition? You could be feeling supremely confident and then you look over and see the other team looking good as they warm up or look over and see that one […]

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Are you getting psyched out by your competition?

Are you getting psyched out by your competition?

Have you ever had the experience of going into a game or race feeling great, only to look over and get psyched out by your competition? You could be feeling supremely confident and then you look over and see the other team looking good as they warm up or look over and see that one of the fastest racers decided to show up to the race and BAM! Your confidence decides to take a nosedive from supreme into despair.

Some athletes wonder whether or not they should be paying attention to the competition before they compete. One the one had, it might give you some information about tactics or an understanding of what you need to do in order to accomplish your outcome goals. On the other hand, it could just psych you out and have you performing worse than if you had just focused on yourself and your own performance. It all depends on how you internalize what you see … do you watch the competition and use that information to better your performance … or do you watch the competition and use it to sabotage your performance?

Listen to the Mental Training Tips podcast to learn whether or not you should be focusing on your competition before your event.

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Build Confidence with Deliberate Practice and Simulation Traininghttp://carriecheadle.com/build-confidence-deliberate-practice-simulation-training/ http://carriecheadle.com/build-confidence-deliberate-practice-simulation-training/#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 21:01:43 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/?p=4118 I’ve got a major newsflash … YOU GET GOOD AT WHAT YOU PRACTICE. It’s crazy, but it’s true. OK – I know that you already know this – but it’s amazing how sometimes we don’t actually put that thought into action. This podcast pulls together two imperative concepts for improving your athletic performance – simulation […]

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Practice, practice, practice

Practice, practice, practice

I’ve got a major newsflash … YOU GET GOOD AT WHAT YOU PRACTICE. It’s crazy, but it’s true. OK – I know that you already know this – but it’s amazing how sometimes we don’t actually put that thought into action. This podcast pulls together two imperative concepts for improving your athletic performance – simulation training and deliberate practice.

When you’re an athlete and you want to be On Top of Your Game, you need to build your fitness, but you also need to be a student of yourself and a student of your sport in order to build your performance.

Simulation training means creating opportunities to practice some part of your performance in a way that is as close as possible to actual competition. You’re simulating in training what you will be facing in your game or race. Deliberate practice means actually using your training to deliberately work on some aspect of your performance versus just going through the motions and checking your training off of your to-do list. When you pair these two things together, not only do you boost your confidence, but you work on becoming an expert in your sport as well. You get better at what you practice so be sure you’re practicing right. Listen to this podcast to hear tips on how to build your confidence and work on your mental game by creating your own opportunities for simulation training and deliberate practice.

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Reframing the Butterflies: How to Feel Calm and Confidenthttp://carriecheadle.com/reframing-butterflies-feel-calm-confident/ http://carriecheadle.com/reframing-butterflies-feel-calm-confident/#comments Fri, 13 Jun 2014 14:22:43 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/?p=4109 There isn’t an athlete out there that hasn’t experienced some pre-race nerves at some point in their athletic endeavors. When you’re competing and pushing yourself to the limit, feeling nervous and anxious is just part of the package. However, there does come a point when some normal pre-race nerves move from manageable to miserable. For […]

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Are there butterflies buzzing around in your stomach?

Are there butterflies buzzing around in your stomach?

There isn’t an athlete out there that hasn’t experienced some pre-race nerves at some point in their athletic endeavors. When you’re competing and pushing yourself to the limit, feeling nervous and anxious is just part of the package. However, there does come a point when some normal pre-race nerves move from manageable to miserable. For some people, those butterflies feel more like unruly dragons clawing at the walls of your stomach trying to burst out. I know, at times, that’s how they feel to me! In Chapter 4 of my book, I share a story about the debilitating butterflies I felt every time I approached my home resort to go out for a day of snowboarding … and I wasn’t even competing!

Too many butterflies not only feels miserable, but those nerves have physiological and psychological impact that can negatively effect your athletic performance. On this podcast I share a technique you can use (it’s one I use!) to help calm those butterflies and feel more confident, excited, and in control of your performance.

 

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Don’t Let Your Ego Sabotage Your Performancehttp://carriecheadle.com/dont-let-ego-sabotage-performance/ http://carriecheadle.com/dont-let-ego-sabotage-performance/#comments Mon, 26 May 2014 20:14:20 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/?p=4089 EGO. In sports ego gets both glorified and vilified. At its best, it fuels your confidence and drives you to the finish line … at its worst it makes you throw tantrums and make excuses for why you didn’t perform the way you could have. Your ego wants to be the boss of you, but […]

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Ego

EGO. In sports ego gets both glorified and vilified. At its best, it fuels your confidence and drives you to the finish line … at its worst it makes you throw tantrums and make excuses for why you didn’t perform the way you could have.

Your ego wants to be the boss of you, but the truth is that your ego doesn’t always know what’s best for you. It can overpower your rational mind and make decisions that work against you and aren’t in line with who you are and who you want to be. If you’ve ever walked away from a day of training or a competition and said to yourself …

“Why did I do that!?”

… because you let your ego overtake a smart decision to make a rash decision that sabotaged your training goals and/or your performance – listen to this Mental Training Tips podcast and find out how to keep your ego in check.

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Want to Perform Better – Start Writing Stuff Downhttp://carriecheadle.com/want-perform-better-start-writing-stuff/ http://carriecheadle.com/want-perform-better-start-writing-stuff/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 17:29:00 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/?p=4033 Anyone that’s ever worked with me knows that I love giving people homework. I love making people write things down. When I give my athletes homework and ask them to write things down, most of them are willing participants in the process. But every once in a while I work with an athlete somehow keeps […]

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Choose Your Writing Instrument

Choose Your Writing Instrument

Anyone that’s ever worked with me knows that I love giving people homework. I love making people write things down. When I give my athletes homework and ask them to write things down, most of them are willing participants in the process. But every once in a while I work with an athlete somehow keeps “forgetting” to do their homework, but really they just hate writing!

The act of writing gets a bad rap. The connotations invoked by the idea of writing stuff down often makes people think of:

  1. visions of homework they didn’t want to do (and certainly don’t want to do now)
  2. memories of time wasted at work
  3. images of 13-year-old girls writing the words “Dear Diary …” in a pink journals with a tiny “fool-proof” lock, recounting the boy troubles of the day (and yes – I’m quite certain I have a few of those entries in my journaling past)
  4.  a list of excuses including but not limited to… my spelling is bad, my hand-writing is bad, and I don’t know what to say

However, when you’re an athlete, the other type of writing you might encounter has more to do with data and logs versus processing your feelings and emotions. But even some of you out there would rather not have to write out your data and logs as well. If you’ve been on the fence about writing things down, here are three compelling reasons why you should consider making it happen:

1)   Your memory isn’t reliable

You can’t just rely on your memory when you’re trying to recall how you performed at a specific competition. When trying to recall a past memory it’s more like our brain tries to re-create the story and there are many things that can affect the re-creation of a memory. Many times these stories are a re-creation of the emotions we felt and not an accurate depiction of what really happened. Writing things down ensures that you have a better record of the true event.

Not only does writing it down create a more accurate reflection of the events, but the physical act of writing causes your brain to bring it to the forefront of your mind, which makes you pay more attention to it and increases your chances of remembering it.

2) It’s like “feng shui” for your brain

Writing stuff down often helps you clear the “clutter” out of your mind. Through the act of writing you process what’s actually important and what isn’t, which is why people often feel lighter when they’re done. If you have a lot on your mind as you’re going into practice or competition – you can “write-it-out”, as in write it down and get it out of your head so you can save that energy. When the clutter is gone it allows space for more higher-level and creative thinking.

Writing can also help shift your emotional state and bring you back into the present moment. If you’re upset about how something went down and you need to regroup and move on to your next performance, writing things out can help you let go and move forward (Try out the “Incident Report” worksheet from Chapter 9).

3) It makes your experience “real”

Once you’ve written something down, you’ve created something tangible. By putting pen to paper you’ve solidified your experience.

It can also increase your feeling of commitment to whatever it is that you wrote down. For example, writing out your Post-Competition Evaluation (check out the worksheets from Chapter 8) can help solidify accurate attributions for your successes, which enhances your expectations for future success and can also solidify what you learned from the experience so you can improve upon it moving forward. Writing things down moves you from going through the motions to building on each performance.

“But Carrie … what if I don’t like writing stuff down?”

Guess what? You don’t have to! But if you kind of want to, yet somehow keep not doing it, here are some tips:

  • Keep it simple
  • Make it easy
  • Do what works for you

If you’d rather do it on the computer, then do it on the computer (although studies do show that handwriting is better for learning). If you’d rather write with pen and paper, then write with pen and paper. If you’d rather not type or write at all, then get a program like Dragon Dictate to do it for you. If creating a template makes it more likely that you’ll fill it out, then create a template. Just pick one thing and try it out. Do a couple of the mental skills training worksheets or commit to writing out post-competition evaluations. Or if you do want to log more regularly, you can create “recovery” from logging as well. Give yourself two days off a week or one week off a month from logging. Figure out what works for you.

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Stop Getting Distracted: How Athletes Choose Their Focushttp://carriecheadle.com/stop-getting-distracted-athletes-choose-focus/ http://carriecheadle.com/stop-getting-distracted-athletes-choose-focus/#comments Wed, 19 Feb 2014 21:25:53 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/?p=3774 The Olympians competing in Sochi have a lot to teach us about dealing with distractions. From the lead up to the games to the moment of competition, these athletes are constantly having to decide what they need to pay attention to what they need to let go of. There have been numerous external distractions – […]

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2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

The Olympians competing in Sochi have a lot to teach us about dealing with distractions. From the lead up to the games to the moment of competition, these athletes are constantly having to decide what they need to pay attention to what they need to let go of. There have been numerous external distractions – just to name a few:

The list could go on and on.

And then there are the internal distractions. The thoughts and worries that can occupy their minds. The pressure that they put on themselves. Thinking about the sacrifices their families have made. What it means for them to be there competing for their country. Holding onto concerns about how they performed (or didn’t) in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. For some, knowing that this might be their last Olympic Games. Not to mention that any athlete that has had any hardship or trauma will be hearing about it in the media over and over again leading up to their event (think Lolo Jones, Bode Miller, Emily Scott, Lindsey Jacobellis … just to name a few.) The potential distractions are endless.

This is a tremendous thing to ask of these athletes – to have to hold onto all of this as they approach the moment that they’ve been training for the past four years. The ability to focus on the things that are relevant to your performance and let go of the things that are irrelevant is one of the most essential mental skills an athlete can have.

Even if you’re not an Olympian, there are still numerous distractions that you must navigate. There will be times when you are going to need to compartmentalize. Yes – you could think about all of these things and still compete, but I can guarantee you won’t perform to your potential. You have to figure out how to hold onto and focus on the aspects of competition that are in your control and let go of the ones that aren’t. Especially when they add no value and only take away from your performance. It’s not an easy choice, but it is a choice. Give yourself permission to stay in the moment and on what’s relevant to your performance.

You can go to my website and download free mental skills training worksheets from Chapter 6 of my book On Top of Your Game to work on your focus on not letting distractions sabotage your performance.

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Top 10 Inspirational Videos for Athletes (Part 2)http://carriecheadle.com/top-10-inspirational-videos-athletes-part-2/ http://carriecheadle.com/top-10-inspirational-videos-athletes-part-2/#comments Tue, 21 Jan 2014 16:35:33 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/?p=3554 If you read Part 1 of this post, you’ll know that for the past 6 months I’ve been searching the web trying to find some of the most awe-inspiring and motivational-boosting videos out there. Part 2 rounds out the next five videos of my compilation of the top ten motivational videos for finding inspiration, encouragement, resilience, strength, […]

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Sometimes you need to draw strength from others when you need to keep moving.

Sometimes you need to draw strength from others when you need to keep moving.

If you read Part 1 of this post, you’ll know that for the past 6 months I’ve been searching the web trying to find some of the most awe-inspiring and motivational-boosting videos out there. Part 2 rounds out the next five videos of my compilation of the top ten motivational videos for finding inspiration, encouragement, resilience, strength, and mental toughness. All athletes experience times when their motivation dips down. That’s why I published my free ebook on motivation for athletes. Experiencing highs and lows with your motivation is a natural occurrence when you have dedicated yourself to your sport. Sometimes you need a motivational boost to get excited and get moving again. Get ready to be inspired again!

1. Carry On: Why I Stayed

There are more inspiring life lessons in this 20 minute video than you would be able to absorb in a lifetime. This story originally aired on Outside the Lines on ESPN. If you need to pull some strength from an amazing and inspirational story – this is the video for you. There are so many incredible moments demonstrating resilience, passion, perseverance, strength, resolve … and the powerful message that maybe you can’t help everyone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a very big impact and forever change someone’s life. It’s all about turning something devastating into something amazing.

2. Greatest Moment in Collegiate Softball

What would you do if an act of sportsmanship meant jeopardizing a potential win at the playoffs? I remember the year that this event happened. I originally heard about it from a collegiate softball coach whose team I was working with. For anyone out there that plays a team sport, or for anyone that wants to believe in the good in people and that sportsmanship is more powerful than any win or loss – you will love this story. The respect they showed for Sarah and the respect they showed for the game still gets to me every time I watch it.

3. 2012 Sports Illustrated Kid(s) of the Year

This video highlights the amazing recipients of the 2012 Sports Illustrated Kid of the year award. It shares the story of brothers Conner and Cayden, the triathlon team that shows the world how powerful sharing sports with a teammate can be. You think it’s a story about what Conner does for Cayden and quickly come to realize that it’s not about what Conner does for Cayden … it’s about what they do for each other. They teach us to defy the labels that people might put on us (and the ones we put onto ourselves), and let the world be yours. This one is a tear-jerker.

4. The Journey of a Lifetime

“Real adventure is not polished ….”

The first three videos here highlight the power of shared experiences. These next two highlight the power within you. In 2011, Kyle Dempster decided to take the journey of a lifetime and bike across the country of Kyrgyzstan. (For you Dirtbag Diaries fans out there, this film was directed by Fitz Cahall!) If you’ve ever felt like you’ve wanted to do something BIG, that you needed to do something big, but were afraid … because of the challenges, because people wouldn’t understand … this is the video for you. It is is a fascinating exploration of both Kyrgyzstan and of one man’s intense desire to accomplish his goal. If you’re contemplating a dream that you think might be impossible, watch Kyle’s journey and see how he faces the challenges of disappearing roads, river crossings, and corrupt military to reach his destination.

5. How Bad Do You Want It

“When you want to succeed as much as you want to breath, you will be successful …”

I often get asked what I think the most important mental skill is for elite athletes. Truly, it’s the combination of several things that create mentally tough athletes, but when I have to choose one, my answer is always: discipline. If you need some motivation to push yourself to do everything you need to be successful in your sport, you might find some inspiration here. When you need to pull out one more set, one more rep, one more interval, one more mile … you can think of this video and find the strength for just one more. Think of your goal as you watch and decide if you just kind of want it, or if you really want it.

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Top 10 Inspirational Videos for Athletes (Part 1)http://carriecheadle.com/top-10-inspirational-videos-athletes-part-1/ http://carriecheadle.com/top-10-inspirational-videos-athletes-part-1/#comments Wed, 08 Jan 2014 20:25:25 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/?p=3542 If you’ve been following me for any length of time now, you’ve probably guessed that I really like to write! But I am aware of the fact that some of you out there prefer to watch your inspiration and lessons versus read them. So I have a special treat for you. I’ve been compiling a […]

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Watch others that believe and you will start to believe too.

Watch others that believe and you will start to believe too.

If you’ve been following me for any length of time now, you’ve probably guessed that I really like to write! But I am aware of the fact that some of you out there prefer to watch your inspiration and lessons versus read them. So I have a special treat for you. I’ve been compiling a Top 10 list of some of the most motivational videos out there for athletes. Some are joyful, some are heartbreaking, and they are ALL inspirational. Even if you’ve seen them before, they’re all worth watching again.

There’s something for everyone in this two-part blog post. I had fun searching around, getting suggestions, and trying to find a wide range of inspirational videos for you. Get ready to be inspired!

1. Heather Dorniden’s Race of a Lifetime

I love this video. If you follow me on Facebook, you’ve probably seen a version of this video posted before. I chose this version because of the audience commentary and for the incredible celebration you see at the end. If you need a lesson in the idea that, ” the race isn’t over until it’s over”, this comeback story is just the inspiration you need. This video really captures the elation and celebration of the event. Everyone in the stadium felt that come back and you will feel it too.

2. Kid’s Triumph in Learning How to Ride a Bike

This is still one of my favorite inspirational videos. It’s amazing how good you can feel in witnessing how good and proud he feels. You can tell that that he wants the rest of the world to feel it too! If you need a lesson in believing in yourself and feeling pride in your accomplishments – this young cyclist has some words of wisdom for you. “Just keep practicing. You will get the hang of it, I know it!”

3. MMA Fighter with Down Syndrome Defines What it Means to Be an Athlete

This incredible video shares the story of Garrett Holeve and the path to his first MMA fight. There are many moving and stimulating moments in his story. The biggest lessons for me were around not holding yourself back with your own self-defined limits, that sometimes you have to keep believing even when others around you have doubts, and that only you get to define what meaning your passions hold for you in your life.

4. Life = Risk

This is a short and powerful video. In just 1 minute it teaches you the following three valuable lessons:

  • Don’t let setbacks define you or keep you from continuing on your goal path.
  • Even the most successful people faced challenges along the way.
  • If you aren’t pushing yourself to the point where you risk failure, you’ll never know what you’re truly capable of.

5. Hiker Finds His Stash: Never a Language Barrier with True Happiness

I will never get tired of watching this video. It shows a Norwegian explorer during his South Pole Expedition as he comes back to find a stash of food that he buried during an earlier portion of his trip. Enough time has passed that he didn’t remember exactly what he had buried and he also happened upon his stash when he was feeling quite hungry. You can’t help but feel good during his display of pure unadulterated joy at what he finds. And his hair is pretty awesome too.

Watch Part 2 here!

Get access to my free motivational eBook, Inspired: Monthly Motivation for Athletes.

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No More Holding Back: Inspirational Athlete Donna Merritt Teaches us How to Go For Ithttp://carriecheadle.com/holding-back-inspirational-athlete-donna-merritt-teaches-us-go/ http://carriecheadle.com/holding-back-inspirational-athlete-donna-merritt-teaches-us-go/#comments Fri, 29 Nov 2013 22:47:14 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/?p=3531 Are you ever blown away by the thought of how many inspirational stories there are in the world?  It never ceases to amaze me when I hear about another amazing achievement and I love to share and teach through these stories. I’m also fortunate to know some of these stories on a more personal level […]

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Donna Merritt Waterskiing

Donna Merritt Waterskiing

Are you ever blown away by the thought of how many inspirational stories there are in the world?  It never ceases to amaze me when I hear about another amazing achievement and I love to share and teach through these stories. I’m also fortunate to know some of these stories on a more personal level – with the athletes that I am privileged to work with.

As I thought about some of these untold stories, I decided that for my next blog interview I would share one of these more personal stories with you. When I thought about some of the amazing athletes I have worked with over the years, and some of their untold inspirational stories, I thought about Donna Merritt. I sent some questions to Donna so she could share with you just a little part of her story and some of the things she has learned along her incredible athletic journey.

Carrie: I’m so grateful to be doing this interview with you! What are the current sports you’re involved in?

Donna: Current sports I’m involved in are, Competitive Slalom Waterskiing and Bodybuilding in the Women’s Figure Division.

Carrie: What’s the greatest lesson you learned that helped you push to the next level with competing in waterskiing?

Donna: Staying focused, especially during a tournament.  Keeping the nerves under control was my biggest hurdle. You taught me such amazing skills to allow me to control the anxiety, which in turn keeps me focused.

Carrie: What was it that made you decide to get into your current sports?

Donna: I have skied open water since I was 19. I made a goal to try a slalom course at 50 just for the experience and was immediately hooked by the intensity and difficulty.

The Figure Competing was inspired by watching the shocking transformation of a friend of mine prepping for a show. I made it a bucket list!

Carrie: What are some of your greatest accomplishments and proudest moments in your athletic life?

Donna Merritt at Figure Competition

Donna Merritt at Figure Competition

Donna: My first was completing a Marathon at age 30. 2nd, earning 4 Powerlifting World records in 2011 and 2012. 3rd is just last month becoming a US Champ, on the podium in my waterski division 3rd place. I also won 1st place in my age category and 4th in Novice in Figure in May 2013.

Carrie: What have been some of the greatest benefits of working on your mental game?

Donna: The biggest plus to working on my mental game is that it not only keeps me focused; it helps me prioritize life also. The skills I learned help in every aspect of life!

Carrie: What advice do you have for anyone doubting his or her own ability to go after a goal?

Donna: My advice is to hire a coach such as Carrie. She will share wonderful life skills that have made a huge difference. Deep breaths and visualization.

Thanks Donna! Of course I think that’s great advice :) but I also think we can be well-advised through Donna too. She may not have set out to be an inspiration to the people around her, but that is exactly what she is. In our culture, many people think that after 50 you’re only option is to start “slowing down” and that your greatest athletic achievements can only be behind you, but Donna was just getting things started.

You might not be going after World Records and US Championships, but maybe there’s been something else that you’ve been holding yourself back from doing. Donna is inspirational because she didn’t hold herself back. She didn’t let any of the fears or “what-ifs” hold her back from pushing herself to try something new and going after her goals. We should all take a lesson from Donna and work on shifting our own mindsets. So often we hold ourselves back from fear; fear of failure, fear of success, fear of embarrassment, fear of injury … fear of “what-ifs”. Don’t let the fear be the thing that keeps you from trying. Grab fear by the hand and go for it and then if we fail, let’s fail bravely and fail moving forward, instead of letting the fear keep us from ever getting started.

Thanks Donna.

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Finding Your Inner Drivehttp://carriecheadle.com/finding-inner-drive/ http://carriecheadle.com/finding-inner-drive/#comments Wed, 13 Nov 2013 18:56:51 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/?p=3463 Thought you might like to check out a little teaser from my new book! This is an excerpt from Chapter 2 of On Top of Your Game: Some athletes contact me because they are thinking about quitting their sport; they aren’t seeing the results they are used to seeing, they aren’t having fun anymore, and it’s […]

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Thought you might like to check out a little teaser from my new book! This is an excerpt from Chapter 2 of On Top of Your Game:

Book 460Some athletes contact me because they are thinking about quitting their sport; they aren’t seeing the results they are used to seeing, they aren’t having fun anymore, and it’s affecting their motivation to train and compete. When you have been dealing with performance anxiety for a while, it can begin to take a toll on your motivation. I’ve had athletes and parents of athletes that start to question whether or not it is even healthy for them to continue in their sport when it is causing so much angst. You can start to question whether or not it is even worth it to compete, but you keep going back because there is a part of you that still loves your sport. More often than not, when you learn to manage your anxiety and your performance starts to turn around, your motivation starts to turn around as well. I’ve worked with countless athletes on the verge of quitting that end up regaining their motivation and passion for their sport. Many even come back and have the best season of their lives because they now have the tools they need to manage their anxiety. But is it the chicken or the egg? Do you need to improve your performance in order to be motivated or do you need to be motivated in order to improve your performance? The answer is – both. Working on the exercises at the end of this chapter will help you re-connect with your inner drive (a.k.a., working on your motivation to improve your performance). Working on the exercises in the subsequent chapters will help you manage your anxiety (a.k.a., improve performance and enhance motivation).

If you completed the Peak Performance Vision tool from the last chapter you will have a glimpse into your inner drive. Having that internal motivation is a powerful foundation to work from, but because it’s natural for your motivation to ebb and flow, you need some other tools to fill in the gaps. There are different types of tools to help with different types of motivational issues. I find that there are three different categories that these tools fall into: motivation, inspiration, and commitment. Motivation starts you on your path, inspiration keeps you going, and commitment gets you to the end. Tools for motivation help you discover why you do it – what drives you to participate in your sport? These tools can help you assess your level of motivation and your sources of motivation. However, sometimes we don’t need to assess our global motivation; sometimes what we need is some rejuvenation, a little fire in the belly (or a little kick in the butt!). In those circumstances what you need are tools for inspiration, like the high school swimmer that has to get up and train in the early morning hours before school, or the triathlete with a full-time job that has to find time to train for their Ironman race. These tools – motivation, inspiration, and commitment – can help us reconnect with our own inner drive. They help rekindle the passion you already have for your sport. Other times you need tools that help with determination and discipline – ways to help with commitment to your sport and your goals. These are tools that will be covered in the next chapter. The tools in this chapter will help you access your inner drive and give you the inspiration you need to both increase your motivation and get it moving in the right direction.

Chapter 2: Take-Aways

  • Motivation affects every aspect of training and performance. When you work on your motivation, you are working on the foundation of your performance.
  • Having a strong inner drive will help you to meet challenges head on, keep you on track towards your goals, and enhance your enjoyment of your sport.
  • External motivators can be complimentary as long as you have a strong internal motivation and you don’t perceive the external motivators to be in control.
  • It’s normal for your motivation to fluctuate and change over time, but a dip in motivation is also a sign you should pay attention to. Being able to diagnose why your motivation is low will help you choose the right tools to address it.
  • When you feel capable, in control, and connected, it will positively influence your motivation. Having these factors helps increase both your effort and your enjoyment of your sport.

 

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How to Break Through a Performance Slumphttp://carriecheadle.com/prevent-performance-slump/ http://carriecheadle.com/prevent-performance-slump/#comments Wed, 18 Sep 2013 18:05:56 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/?p=3107 Even the best athletes at the top of their game have times when their motivation is low. When it comes to motivation, it’s natural for everyone to go through periods of ebb and flow. There will be times when you feel like your motivation is unstoppable and that you have endless drive and energy for […]

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Batter strikes out again.

Batter strikes out again.

Even the best athletes at the top of their game have times when their motivation is low. When it comes to motivation, it’s natural for everyone to go through periods of ebb and flow. There will be times when you feel like your motivation is unstoppable and that you have endless drive and energy for training and competition. Then there will be times when you have to force yourself out the door to get to practice and feel like you want to quit your sport altogether.

This blog post is an excerpt from my eBook Inspired: Monthly Motivation for Athletes. It’s a free eBook available to folks who join my mailing list. This excerpt is just one small example of the incredible content available to help you proactively work on your motivation. Each month provides a quote, an inspirational story, a motivational mental skills tool, and an assessment page to reflect and solidify what you learned about your own personal motivational journey over that month.

I hope you enjoy this tip and be sure to get on my email list if you want the whole book!

Breaking Through a Plateau

At some point during your athletic career, chances are you will hit a plateau. You’re working hard and motivated to improve, but feel like you’re moving nowhere. How you deal with this situation will either send you down the road to retirement or bring your athletic performance to the next level. Hitting a plateau can be cancerous to your motivation. It can make you start to question your confidence and doubt your ability. It’s time to get your mojo back.

Make the decision to turn it around

If you don’t play your cards right, your plateau can turn into a slump. Don’t let your plateau snowball out of control. Make the decision today to turn it around. That doesn’t mean that everything will magically get better, or that you’ll be back to your old self in a few days, but it does mean that you are committing to change you attitude and take back control.

Diagnosis: Is it physical or mental?

It’s important to rule out whether your plateau could be related to something physical versus something mental. Are you fighting off a virus? Has there been a change in the weather or your level of intensity? Are you utilizing optimal nutrition and hydration for athletic performance? Are you playing with an overuse injury? Peak performance is a combination of optimal body and mind. Make sure that both are working to their potential.

Top 25

What would it take to be at the top of your game? Use the next page to list 25 things that you need to do in order to be at the top of your game. You may not need to do them all, but you have to be willing to do them all if you truly want to bust through this plateau. Pick one item off the list and set a goal with a timeline for when you will achieve that goal. Then pick another item. As you accomplish things off of your list, use that momentum to keep moving you forward.  Pretty soon you’ll find yourself on the upward swing.

If you like this post and want to work on your own motivation, be sure to sign up for my email list and get your free copy of my eBook Inspired (just scroll to the top of this post and look to the right or scroll to the bottom of the post  – enter your email and you’ll instantly get the book)!

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Goal Sabotage: Is Fear Holding You Back From Going After Your Goals?http://carriecheadle.com/goal-sabotage-is-fear-holding-you-back-from-going-after-your-goals/ http://carriecheadle.com/goal-sabotage-is-fear-holding-you-back-from-going-after-your-goals/#comments Wed, 24 Jul 2013 16:32:14 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/?p=3069 Have you noticed how sometimes it seems that as you grow older, your dreams grow smaller? Maybe your priorities change over time as your responsibilities increase …  Or maybe when you think about a potential dream or a big goal you start to calculate the required effort against the probability of accomplishment and decide it’s […]

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Kid dreaming of being a pilot

“Someday I’ll be able to fly that plane …”

Have you noticed how sometimes it seems that as you grow older, your dreams grow smaller? Maybe your priorities change over time as your responsibilities increase …  Or maybe when you think about a potential dream or a big goal you start to calculate the required effort against the probability of accomplishment and decide it’s not really worth the investment. Or maybe it it all comes down to the dreaded, dream-sabotaging, four-letter word:

FEAR

When you’re a kid, you weren’t afraid to dream big and set big goals (I want to be President, I want to be an astronaut, I want to be the fastest runner in the world, etc.) and it wasn’t an attack on your self-worth when you didn’t get accomplish that big dream goal.

As you get older those big dreams end up giving way to all of the “what-ifs” and fears you have. You hold yourself back from dreaming big because you’re afraid of what it means if you fail.

  • What will people think when I tell them my big goal?
  • Will they laugh at me? Think it’s ridiculous?
  • What if they don’t believe in me?
  • And what if I tell people and then fall flat on my face?
  • What will people think? What if I can’t do it?

We decide to remain right where we are because not knowing whether or not we could have accomplished that big goal is emotionally safer than trying and failing. Holding yourself back from going after a goal because you might not accomplish it is like buying a toy and never taking it out of the package to play with it, “Well I don’t want to take it out of the package and play with it because someday it might break and then what will I do?” Not knowing what it’s like to play with your toy prevents you from the heartache of the day when your toy MIGHT break. You let your fears and doubts and what-ifs talk you into either automatically assuming you aren’t capable of accomplishing the goal or tricking you into thinking you don’t really want to go after that goal anyway.

It gets even more complicated when you add in your feelings around what it means to be successful with your goals. W. Clement Stone once said, “Aim for the moon, if you miss, you may hit a star”. The problem is that we define “hitting a star” as “EPIC FAIL”. The stars aren’t the moon so it’s not good enough to just land among the stars. The act of going for after your goals can be just as worthy and fulfilling as actually accomplishing them if you allow yourself to open up your definition of success and be OK with the risk of not accomplishing the goal. You don’t focus on the fear of not accomplishing your goal, you simply accept that the risk of not accomplishing that goal comes in the same package with the possibility of accomplishing it.

I often get asked, “But how do I know if I am holding myself back, or I’m just being realistic?” Sometimes it takes a little exploration to figure out where that line is. But usually if you’re honest with yourself when you do your gut check – you know the difference between holding back because of fear and holding back because of reality. My homework for you is to think about how can you get back to looking at the world through those big wide eyes? Seeing the world through the eyes of possibility instead of the eyes of defeat. Instead of seeing fear and doubt, see courage and strength. What’s a dream you have that feels like it’s a little too big, but when you think about it you feel that spark of excitement in your belly? Take a minute to see the possibility of accomplishing that goal through those big wide eyes and see how it feels to take a step forward. Allow yourself to be excited about the possibility. Allow yourself to be afraid and go for it anyway. Have you been inspired? What dream goal are you going to go after?

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Inspiration, Patience, and Giving Yourself a Breakhttp://carriecheadle.com/inspiration-patience-and-giving-yourself-a-break/ http://carriecheadle.com/inspiration-patience-and-giving-yourself-a-break/#comments Wed, 19 Jun 2013 14:57:23 +0000 http://www.carriecheadle.com/?p=3029 I’m back from another amazing camp. Some of you know that I am the Mental Skills Director for Diabetes Training Camp. I just got back from a week in Lancaster, Pennsylvania where we have held our last 2 camps at Franklin & Marshall College. While in the midst of being challenged to practice what I preach […]

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I’m back from another amazing camp. Some of you know that I am the Mental Skills Director for Diabetes Training Camp. I just got back from a week in Lancaster, Pennsylvania where we have held our last 2 camps at Franklin & Marshall College.

Home of "The Hub" for 2013 Diabetes Training Camp at F & M College

Home of “The Hub” for 2013 Diabetes Training Camp at F & M College

While in the midst of being challenged to practice what I preach and being slapped in the face with a very big dose of what is in my control and what is out of my control (I am dealing with lost files and emails which is affecting what I was going to work on today) – I decided to shift gears to something that is in my control and write this post!

Every year we tell the campers that we learn just as much from them as we humbly hope they have learned from us – and every year that is true. Here are the top 3 lessons I am taking away from camp this year:

Surround yourself with inspiring people

From the campers to the staff – I am surrounded by amazing people at each camp that I go to. To be around people that are motivated and willing to work hard and struggle, but are open to learn and ready to challenge themselves is truly amazing. To be able to work with a staff that is not only incredibly competent, but passionate about the work is phenomenal. The lesson here is to surround yourself with people that inspire you. Surround yourself with people that make you feel good and share your passion for what you love to do. People that will both push you, encourage you, and inspire you to be a better person and a better athlete.

Have patience when dealing with change

I’m in the midst of my own “fundamental” changes (shifting everything from Outlook to using Gmail and Google Calendar) and let’s just say there have been some significant hiccups along the way. When you are making fundamental changes to your game (or your life) that will be beneficial in the long run, know that you may experience some frustration in the short run. The lesson here is to be patient. Not only do you need to be patient, but when you do feel that frustration, you need to reach out for the support you need so you can trust your plan and persevere.

You’re doing better than you think

When there is so much you want to do and improve upon, it can be hard to recognize the good you are already doing and be able to see how far you’ve come. Give yourself credit and give yourself a break. You are often your own biggest critic. The lesson here is to acknowledge your efforts and challenge your definition of “success”. Don’t withhold praise for yourself until you have reached some point of achievement in the future – a date you keep pushing further and further away as you up the ante. Be proud of the journey and the milestones along the way.

And the biggest lesson is: if you ever have the opportunity to go to a camp – go for it!

 

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3 Vital Lessons for Meeting Challenges – Interview with Sébastien Sassevillehttp://carriecheadle.com/3-vital-lessons-for-meeting-challenges-interview-with-sebastien-sas/ http://carriecheadle.com/3-vital-lessons-for-meeting-challenges-interview-with-sebastien-sas/#comments Thu, 30 May 2013 21:59:29 +0000 http://www.carriecheadle.com/?p=2919 What do you do when you’re 22 years old and you’ve been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes? If you’re Sébastien Sasseville, you spend a couple months climbing the world’s tallest mountain, spend seven days racing across the world’s hottest desert, and maybe thrown in a few Ironman triathlons along the way! Sébastien was diagnosed with Type 1 […]

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Inspirational Type 1 Athlete Sébastien Sasseville

Inspirational Type 1 Athlete Sébastien Sasseville

What do you do when you’re 22 years old and you’ve been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes?

If you’re Sébastien Sasseville, you spend a couple months climbing the world’s tallest mountain, spend seven days racing across the world’s hottest desert, and maybe thrown in a few Ironman triathlons along the way! Sébastien was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2002. Little did he know at that time that his diagnosis would serve as the catalyst for the incredible adventures and accomplishments he has had over the past 10 years.

People living with Type 1 diabetes have a pancreas that produces little to no insulin. It’s an incredibly amazing and complex process, but in the most basic terms – your pancreas is in charge of secreting insulin to help keep your blood sugar within a normal range. Without insulin, your body isn’t able to use the glucose it needs in order to function and just because your body stops producing insulin, doesn’t mean that your body stops needing it. When you live with Type 1 – you have to give yourself insulin through multiple daily injections or through a pump that acts as an external pancreas. That makes it sound easy, but it’s not. There are many different factors that affect your level of blood sugar, including exercise. Sébastien has to make decisions and calculations based on his blood sugar level to try and replicate what my pancreas does automatically.

I had the chance to meet Sébastien through Diabetes Training Camp. I run the Mental Skills Training Program and in 2009 we held a camp in Tuscon, Arizona working with a group of athletes through The Triabetes Project that were on a quest to compete in an Ironman triathlon. Their journey was captured in the documentary film The Science of Inspiration.

The fact that Sébastien has climbed Mount Everest and competed in the Sahara Race is amazing; the fact that he did it with Type 1 diabetes is stunning. He is not only an incredible athlete, but also a sought-after keynote speaker sharing his story and inspiring people across the world and shares some of that inspiration here:

Sébastien showing off his pump at the Sahara Race

Sébastien showing off his pump at the Sahara Race

Carrie: What inspired you to take on the challenges of racing Ironman triathlons, climbing Mount Everest, and the running the Sahara Race?

Sébastien: I think it happened by accident! I always wanted to explore, go far, see and experiment new things. Much like diabetes, those challenges are vehicles. Self-exploration vehicles that allow me to grow, to get to know myself, tame my fears and help others. I started with short races, small climbs and got addicted to always learning more. Over the years the race courses got longer, the mountains got bigger, but the goal was always the same: learn and grow.

Carrie: When you were diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes – did it change how you felt about your involvement with fitness and sports?

Sébastien: Change probably isn’t the right word. I actually started to be active when I was diagnosed. I was 22 when the gift of diabetes came to my life, I was in college, spending more time at the bar then at the gym! Diabetes made me vulnerable and knowing that we are vulnerable makes us stronger. Diabetes also gave a purpose to the things that I wanted to do. The Everest dream was well alive when I was diagnosed. To be climbing to inspire and help others gave a totally different dimension to my project.

Carrie: What do you think is the biggest mental challenge when it comes to endurance events?

Sébastien: To stay in the game despite of pain and to do that for long hours. It takes 2 months to climb Mt Everest, an ironman can take up to 17 hours and the Sahara race was a grueling 155 mile foot race in the world’s toughest conditions. In every long event, you’ll have good hours and bad hours, good days and bad days, good weeks and bad weeks. The challenge is to stay strong in tough times and always believe that things will get better.

Carrie: Which was harder – climbing Mount Everest or running the Sahara race in the desert? 

Sébastien: They were so different! Different goals, approach and strategy. Everest was much more dangerous, so the pressure from being exposed everyday definitely takes a toll on you. The Sahara felt safe, but we were in a lot more physical pain every day. I’ll say that the Sahara was much harder than an Ironman.

Carrie: Who inspires you as an athlete?

Sébastien: I’m inspired by excellence, by those who have the courage to do things that have never been done before, things that were believed impossible. I also am very moved by people that never give up. I love those stories of people that have worked 10-20 years, sometimes longer to get to their dream.

Carrie: What kind of advice do you have for someone thinking about taking on his or her own athletic challenge?

Sébastien: Have a plan, build a team, break down the project in many little projects, make room for failure, never give up, put yourself in a position where you must succeed.

Carrie: What are you training for now?

Sébastien: 2013 is all about getting to Ironman World Championships. I’m hoping for my first sub 10h Ironman this year. Definitely have my work cut out for me!

I think after reading this – we’ll ALL be cheering on Sébastien as he works towards his goal to get to the Ironman World Championships! There are so many incredible lessons to take away from Sébastien’s experience; I will leave you with this:

  • You might not get to choose the challenges you will face, but you can choose your reaction to them and the affect they have on your life.
  • You can be overcome with challenges, or you can overcome them. Your challenges are opportunities for growth.
  • Don’t let fear and perceived obstacles hold you back from going after your goals.

What challenges are you ready to face?

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Set a Goal Deadline to Create Accountabilityhttp://carriecheadle.com/set-a-goal-deadline-to-create-accountability/ http://carriecheadle.com/set-a-goal-deadline-to-create-accountability/#comments Tue, 30 Apr 2013 17:43:35 +0000 http://www.carriecheadle.com/?p=2873 If you are committed to a goal, giving yourself a clear deadline can help create some accountability for getting things done. I was taking a little vacation and hanging out in South Lake Tahoe and I used Redbox for the first time. If you are on my email list, you know that I spent a […]

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The clock is ticking on your goal.

The clock is ticking on your goal.

If you are committed to a goal, giving yourself a clear deadline can help create some accountability for getting things done.

I was taking a little vacation and hanging out in South Lake Tahoe and I used Redbox for the first time. If you are on my email list, you know that I spent a week in Tahoe recovering from a back injury. Since I had to lie flat on my back for most of the week, part of my “recovery” consisted of watching lots of movies. I would reserve the movie online and then send my husband off to the store to pick it up. (He was amazingly supportive while I was healing from my injury!) While we were there, I watched FIVE movies in one week. At home I use Netflix. If I had rented those movies with Netflix, I would have taken five months to watch them all. That’s when I came to my Redbox versus Netflix epiphany.

I watched the Redbox movies right away because there was a deadline and a consequence for not meeting the deadline. With Redbox, the movies have to be returned the next day or you have to pay for another day. With Netflix, I can send it back three days or three months later and the only consequence is that it took me longer to watch the movie. (I currently have The Maltese Falcon and it has been sitting on the floor in front of my TV. for the past 4 weeks.)

Having a deadline can increase your self-accountability. Sometimes it’s not enough to want to watch the movie, you have to have a deadline in place in order to make it a priority. If you find yourself feeling disappointed or frustrated because there’s something that you’ve been wanting to do, but you keep putting it off – set a firm deadline and increase your self-accountability. Having a non-negotiable deadline will affect the decisions you make about how to use your time. It helps you to remember that this is something that you want to accomplish, and increase your commitment to your goal. Think about the difference between Redbox and Netflix and make the deadline something that might put a little pressure on you to get things done.

Need some more accountability?  Share in the comments the goal you’re working on and when your deadline is – and I’ll even give you ideas on how to increase your accountability even more!

photo credit: cx33000 via photopin cc

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Moving Forward through Tragedy: Boston Marathon, April 15th, 2013http://carriecheadle.com/moving-forward-through-tragedy-boston-marathon-april-15th-2013/ http://carriecheadle.com/moving-forward-through-tragedy-boston-marathon-april-15th-2013/#comments Fri, 19 Apr 2013 17:10:11 +0000 http://www.carriecheadle.com/?p=2903 I had originally planned to put up a different blog post this week until I received a text from my sister: “Hey Care, did you hear about the Boston Marathon??” Sometimes you have to put your agenda aside when something more important comes up. Even after deciding to forgo the other post for this one […]

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small__8287427952I had originally planned to put up a different blog post this week until I received a text from my sister:

“Hey Care, did you hear about the Boston Marathon??”

Sometimes you have to put your agenda aside when something more important comes up. Even after deciding to forgo the other post for this one – I still struggled with writing it. I wanted to run away. It felt so much easier to hide from it and not talk about it, skip a week of blogging and move on. What’s the right thing to say? What’s the right title? What’s the right photo? What if I don’t do it justice?

I found myself doubting, questioning, hesitating… I found myself holding back. Despite my fears of saying or doing the “wrong” thing – I decided to write this post because the biggest personal realization I take away from the bombings at the Boston Marathon is that I don’t want to live in fear.

After I got my sister’s text, for the rest of the day I found myself hiding from the news. I didn’t want to know what happened and who was hurt. Later that day I was in the grocery store, standing in the produce aisle, and trying to decide what kind of lettuce I wanted to buy when I overheard a woman talking to someone on the phone about the events. The first “news” I heard was when she said to the person on the other end of the line, “People died and were maimed…”

I couldn’t hide from it anymore. I didn’t hear anything else she said because all I could think was, “This lettuce doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what lettuce I pick. People’s lives have changed forever.” I was struck with grief and went back into hiding.

The next day, another moment of grief came again while I was out grabbing a bite to eat during a lunch break when I saw a discarded newspaper on an empty table. I decided to sit down and read the front-page news about the bombing while I waited for my food and I couldn’t finish the article. As I began to read the account of the events I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach and was suddenly stifling a huge sob that was trying to force its way out. I grabbed my food, went home and cried, and decided to stop hiding.

I wanted to write this because I was surprised at how affected I felt. Why I am having these moments where I feel absolutely overwhelmed with grief? I knew people that were there that day, but thankfully, none of them were hurt. I had even talked to the consultants that I mentor about how they were feeling and potential conversations to prepare for with the athletes that they work with and I never anticipated my own emotional reaction to it. I decided that if I was feeling this way, then there might be others that are feeling this way too.

After I stopped running away and just sat with the turmoil I was feeling, I came to realize that for me, the reason it has hit so hard is because even though I wasn’t there, and I don’t know anyone directly affected, and I’ve never even run a marathon, let alone the Boston Marathon…the people that were there are a part of my community. Whether they would have finished first or last, whether they were racing that day, or they were supportive spectators – they are a part of my endurance athlete community. And when we identify with a community, when they suffer, we suffer too.

Because I am a part of that community, the other realization I had about why it’s affecting me is because it is unbearable for me to try and reconcile such a horrendous and violent act during what I consider to be an incredible celebration of life. The greater athletic community is feeling affected by this as well.  Reactions from athletes in other sports all reflect the struggle of trying to comprehend how something so horrendous and tragic can happen during something so life affirming.

When something this unbelievably tragic occurs, people often find themselves wondering what the meaning is… the meaning of the event, the meaning of sport in their lives, and wondering if it’s all worth it. I’ve seen the same thing occur when someone goes down hard in a bike race and gets injured. “”Is this risk really worth it? Do I want to keep racing?” I’ve also seen it come up as athletes have watched their heroes fall. “If everyone is doping, what’s the point?”

For the people at the Boston Marathon that day, it wasn’t just about training for a finish line.  Collectively, it is thousands of sought-after dreams and goals being actively pursued, thousands of doubts being pushed aside, thousands of moments where they could have thrown in the towel, but didn’t. It’s personal triumph, overcoming adversity, doing more than you thought you could… even doing less and feeling the disappointment.

I wrote this because I needed to. And I wanted other people to know that if you find yourself distraught and affected, it’s OK. It’s OK to be sad. It’s OK to be angry. To be scared. To want to hide from it. And it’s OK to move on. To keep moving forward. To sign up for your next race.

Let it make you reflect on what meaning your sport has in your life. Many athletes forget about this as they get wrapped up in the numbers… what’s my heart rate, what zone am I supposed to be in, how much power am I putting out, what’s my cadence, what place did I get, was my time better or worse than the last time? Training and competition start to become a means to an end and we forget the meaning.

If you want to honor those that were directly affected, then allow these events to give you perspective. To solidify your values. To contemplate what is truly important to you in this life. To question your choices. To understand the difference between what is important to worry about and what isn’t. To let it be more than a means to an end and to not let anyone or anything take away what it means to you.

photo credit: tedeytan via photopin cc

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The Science of Sport – Interview with Shawn Heidgen of TrainingPeakshttp://carriecheadle.com/the-science-of-sport/ http://carriecheadle.com/the-science-of-sport/#comments Tue, 26 Mar 2013 19:25:49 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/?p=2475 Every endurance athlete knows that there is both an art and a science to training and competition, but not every athlete commits to working on both. I was invited to be a speaker at the Women’s Cycling Conference at the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame in Davis, CA. Bill Nicely, General Manager of Pinnacle p/b Argon […]

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Lactate Threshold Test

Tracking training data can drastically improve your performance.

Every endurance athlete knows that there is both an art and a science to training and competition, but not every athlete commits to working on both. I was invited to be a speaker at the Women’s Cycling Conference at the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame in Davis, CA. Bill Nicely, General Manager of Pinnacle p/b Argon 18 Cycling Team, organized the conference that brought together a solid group of speakers that covered everything from optimal nutrition and the physiology of training, to improving mental strength and learning how to balance cycling and life. Among the list of amazing speakers (yes – I just referred to myself as amazing) was Robin Farina, Judd Van Sickle, Stacy Sims, Felicia Gomez, and Shawn Heidgen.

After the conference a few of us went out to dinner and Robin, Shawn, and I got to talking about the current state of women’s cycling. During the course of the conversation one of the topics we covered was how some athletes are really intimidated and overwhelmed by gathering performance feedback and delving into the science of their training. Shawn works as an Education Specialist at TrainingPeaks and at the conference she was teaching participants about the TrainingPeaks software and how to train efficiently and measure training progress. She has been involved in the cycling world since 1992, as a regional racer, then later as a professional cyclist turned coach and entrepreneur (some of her career highlights include being the 2002 Illinois State Mountain Bike Champion, 2x finisher of the Giro d’Italia Femminile in 2003 & 2004, and 2x winner of 24 hours of E-rock Mountain Bike Race in 2009 & 2010). She also provides data analysis for the Tour de France, USAPC, and other races.

I brought Shawn here to share her thoughts on the science of sport performance and the importance of using that data to inform your training and racing decisions.


Carrie: For those not familiar with TrainingPeaks, what kind of data does it track?

Shawn Heidgen

Shawn Heigen – Education Specialist at TrainingPeaks

Shawn: TrainingPeaks is the industry leader for endurance coaches and motivated individuals, to monitor, analyze and plan their fitness and nutrition for peak performance. We are compatible with over 90 devices (Garmin, PowerTap, SRM, Stages, Quark, Timex, etc). Athletes can upload their nutritional and workout data to their TrainingPeaks account for detailed analysis and also plan future training. We offer advanced metrics that will help athletes reach their goal event in peak form.

Carrie: How has using data helped you with your own performance?

Shawn: Now I am going to date myself…and this is going to get long. Before I raced professionally, I suffered what should’ve been a career ending hip fracture in 1997. The really funny thing is that when I broke my hip the first time (yes, I did it twice) I wasn’t even that good of a cyclist. Fast forward a few years and through the Chronic Pain Program at the Mayo Clinic, being on crutches for 6 months, and being told that I’d probably never ride again let alone race, I somehow made it back to bike (thanks to an amazingly supportive husband). I still remember being able to ride for only 15 minutes at first. Well, I may not have been a physically gifted athlete but I am stubborn and determined and that was enough.

Being in chronic pain, I was very limited to the type and amount of training I could do but my mental focus was better than ever. That was the one incredible thing that my broken hip and chronic pain gave me. You really do look at life, at racing, at pain differently. In so many mental ways, I became a better athlete than ever after breaking my hip. I could suffer like you cannot imagine on the bike and I no longer had a fear of failure. I just went for it, whatever it was and gave it everything I had because I was just lucky and happy to be out there and I knew that what ever time I had racing, it was borrowed time and I wasn’t going to waste any of it. So, with the help of some great coaches, we created a very specific and focused training plan. But, in order to make it all work, I had to measure, record, and analyze everything and that is exactly what I did.

I started training with power around 2000. There was an indoor trainer made by Cateye that measured power. Not exactly accurate but it was consistent and it worked. Then came my first Powertap, shortly after the Cateye. So, I was recording my watts, heart rate, gearing, time, cadence, speed, etc. Everything and anything I could measure I did and recorded it all. All hand written back then, but the knowledge I gained was priceless. I learned what I could handle, what was too much, and how to make every workout count. The data allowed me to come up with measurable and attainable goals. Eventually I was able to compete on a national and even international level despite only being able to do a fraction of the training that most of my competitors were doing.

Carrie: Why do you think some people are intimidated by the “science” of sport performance?

Shawn: In the past, scientific analysis was labor intensive and time consuming. The athlete or coach had to perform the calculations themselves (if they even had access to or knew how to), using complex formulas and algorithms. But, with programs like TrainingPeaks, all the number crunching is done for you. We take the raw data and perform the calculations translating it into easy to understand charts and graphs making it ready to be analyzed by the coach or athlete. I think it’s important to note that we don’t prescribe to a certain coaching or training philosophy and we are NOT a coaching company. We are a software company. So, the coach and athlete still applies their own methodology to training, we just report the data so that you can train as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Carrie: How does having this kind of feedback help people with their training and performance?

Shawn: It is truly amazing. Joe Friel likes to tell people that when you start tracking and analyzing your data, it is like getting glasses for the first time. Suddenly, everything is clear and in focus. So many athletes talk about “peaking” at the right time and how difficult it is to do. Using features like the Performance Management Chart, we literally take the guesswork out of peaking. The athlete knows exactly how taxing each workout is and also the cumulative effect it has over time and can then plan future workouts and know exactly how those workouts will affect fitness and fatigue. Pro Tour riders are now using and even depending on TrainingPeaks to track and plan their seasons, to monitor their fitness level and dial in their training and recovery precisely.


The major take-aways from Shawn’s interview is the fact that if you want to see some true measurable improvements in your results, you need to be deliberate and focused with your training. If you want to improve your performance, you have to build from where you are now and the only way to effectively and efficiently do that is through gathering, processing, and implementing feedback. By being specific with her own goals and letting the data inform her decisions, she had the roadmap of where she wanted to go and the knowledge of how to get there. Gathering, processing, and implementing feedback allowed her to be optimally efficient and effective with her training.

TrainingPeaks is just one example of the many tools available for gaining feedback. From using video analysis, to written daily training logs, working with a coach, and reflecting on your race – there are many different sources for feedback and you gain valuable information from each one. Decide right now what kind of feedback you need in order to improve your performance and and then figure out where can you get it.

Are you an artist or a scientist (or a little of both) when it comes to training? What kind of data do you keep track of and has it helped your performance? Let me know in the comments.

Photo Courtesy of rodeomilano used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

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Book Review: The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brené Brownhttp://carriecheadle.com/book-review-the-gifts-of-imperfection/ http://carriecheadle.com/book-review-the-gifts-of-imperfection/#comments Tue, 12 Mar 2013 17:21:09 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/?p=1767 As I was hanging out eating dinner during the last AASP  (Association for Applied Sport Psychology) conference, in a steak joint in downtown Atlanta, a friend and colleague of mine recommended this book to me. I think something I said during our conversation alluded to the fact that maybe I would benefit from reading this book […]

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Picture of the book cover The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brené Brown

Read this book.

As I was hanging out eating dinner during the last AASP  (Association for Applied Sport Psychology) conference, in a steak joint in downtown Atlanta, a friend and colleague of mine recommended this book to me. I think something I said during our conversation alluded to the fact that maybe I would benefit from reading this book (whatever) and if you read my blog post about perfectionism, you will know that he was right.

The book, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, is a wonderful and insightful book by research professor Brené Brown. Brown has spent much of her career studying shame, which inevitably led her to also study courage, compassion, and vulnerability. Her work on the latter was the catalyst for writing this book.

Part of what makes this book so appealing is how the author shares her own struggles with perfectionism and the realizations she makes about herself as she is doing her research. It helps you recognize that even when people you may perceive as having it all together are probably dealing with their own issues of perfectionism as well.

In the book she explores 10 “guideposts” that will allow you to start your own journey of letting go of perfectionism and being OK with who you are and where you’re at. Some of these guideposts are things I already believe in and practice passionately, and some were great reminders to get back to things I used to do. And then some were powerful new lessons that I think I will constantly be learning, like letting go of judgement, having self-compassion, and being OK with uncertainty.

I have always battled against my perfectionism and after reading this book, I’ve realized even that is a judgement of myself. I have recommended it to several friends and clients and now I am recommending it to you. If you’re not a pick-up-a-book-and-read type of person, you can also check out Brown’s work during her 2010 TED talk on The Power of Vulnerability and her 2012 TED talk on Listening to Shame.

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Don’t Let Bad Luck Ruin Your Racehttp://carriecheadle.com/shelley-olds/ http://carriecheadle.com/shelley-olds/#comments Tue, 19 Feb 2013 18:44:16 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/?p=2470 When you are privileged enough to call yourself an athlete (and you may count yourself in this category even if you question am I an athlete?), you can be sure that at some point you will experience a big disappointment on the day of a race. No one had reason to feel that more than Shelley […]

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Women's Road Race 2012 London Olympic Games

Shelley Olds in the winning break at the 2012 London Olympics before a bit of bad luck with a flat tire

When you are privileged enough to call yourself an athlete (and you may count yourself in this category even if you question am I an athlete?), you can be sure that at some point you will experience a big disappointment on the day of a race. No one had reason to feel that more than Shelley Olds during the Women’s Road Race at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Going into the games she was a top choice for winning a medal, especially if the race ended in a bunch sprint. Olds was in the winning break when she got a flat tire that ultimately changed her Olympic fate that day. She ended up 7th, which is an INCREDIBLE accomplishment, but a difficult pill to swallow when you had a realistic shot at coming home with an Olympic medal.

To know that you were in the winning move and it all went away with a bit of bad luck; to feel the years of dedication, commitment, and sacrifice on the line as you got your wheel change and saw the winning break riding away; when you’ve been training for a specific event it can be devastating to have a little bad luck affect the outcome of your race. When this happens, it can be challenging to see your race as anything else but an unrealized dream and an utter disappointment. It’s seemingly impossible to see it any other way. Or is it? I’m here to challenge you to start re-envisioning what it means to be successful on the day of your event – to step back and gain a broader perspective of the entire landscape. When you zoom out, you see that race day is only part of the picture.

Shelley Olds understands this perspective. In this fantastic interview on the Norcal Cycling News blog, she shares what she learned from her experience at the 2012 Olympic Games and how important it is to take the whole picture into account when reflecting back on your race. She says:

“When I look back on the whole experience, making the Olympic team and my performance on race day is something I will always be so proud of. Although I happened to have very bad luck in the race, and possibly had a real shot at an Olympic medal, I enjoyed every moment of the preparation and build up to the Games.”

Shelley Olds is proud of everything she did to put herself in position to win at the Olympics. All the work she put in to be her best that day – for every tough training session, for every sacrifice she made, for putting herself out there and taking the risk, for all of it – she’s taking all of these things into consideration when she reflects back on her experience at the Olympics.

When you think about a time something went wrong and wish you could erase that memory from your mind, it’s time to reframe your event and tell another story; the REAL story. You can start by answering these two questions:

  • What did I do well during my training?
  • What did I do well on race day?

It’s hard not to think that the entire journey was a failure when you didn’t accomplish your goals on race day, but the outcome of your event only tells one small part of the story. Don’t let one moment of bad luck erase your memory of all the sacrifices you made and goals you accomplished along the way to your race. Don’t let someone else’s criteria of what it means to be successful affect how you feel about your performance.

Now that you have taken a step back and looked at the big picture, leave a comment & tell me what challenges you encountered on race day and why you are proud of what you accomplished.

Photo Courtesy of roanokecollege used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

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