We are the champions

I listened to an interesting podcast a couple of days ago as part of my preparation for the upcoming events. The podcast was a programme that had been on Radio 5 called ‘Mind of a Cyclist’ where gold medal winning cyclist Victoria Pendleton was investigating what set the best of the best apart from the rest. In the programme she spoke to Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins and Dr Steve Peters (sports psychiatrist of the Chimp Paradox) about how the mental side of the sport plays such an important role. The programme gives an interesting insight into the mind of champions and how they use mental preparation to deal with the pressure and pain and to push themselves that bit further to achieve their goals. It’s well worth a listen if you get chance, especially if you’re interested in sport or cycling. The podcast is available on the BBC website or through iTunes.

Mental strength is going to play a big part this year, both in getting through the event schedule that I’ve got ahead and also in the training and preparation. Through the events mental strength will be the thing that gets me through as physical strength will only take you so far and if I think that I can’t do it then it won’t matter how fit and strong I am I will be heading for failure. As much as I spend time preparing physically at the gym and out on the road, I’ll also need to prepare mentally to push myself through.

One of the things I’m going to do as part of the preparation is get together some motivational pictures and something I can focus on for what I want to achieve out of this. I’ve been putting some pictures together of people who have inspired me and the people that I’m doing this for. I’m going to print them out and put them around so that I have a constant reminder of why I’m doing this and to keep me motivated. There will be times through 2015 when I don’t feel like going to the gym or want to eat something that I shouldn’t and I need to try and combat that stick to the plan. When I’ve been putting the pictures together, I’ve had to think about why I’m doing this, who I’m doing it for, what I want to achieve and what would be a successful outcome.

Why am I’m doing it?

There are a number of reasons why I’m doing this. The first is to raise awareness and hopefully some money for mental health issues. By raising as much money and awareness as I can, hopefully I can stop someone else having to go through what Dan’s family and friends have been through. If it can make a difference to just one person then it will have been all worthwhile.

The second reason I am doing it is to try and prove to myself that I can do it. For years, I’ve been saying that I’m going to do this or that and then never getting round to it. By making such a public commitment to doing this there can be no excuses and I just need to focus and get the job done.

Finally I’m doing it for Elaine and the triplets. I used to be a fairly good football player and quite fit, unfortunately that’s quite a long time ago now but I want to get back being fit and healthy again. I’ll need to be to keep up with the triplets as they get older but I also need to give myself the best opportunity to spend as much time with them as I can. Life is short enough without making it shorter for yourself by letting yourself go. I need to get back my self-esteem and self-confidence which will also help with the issues that I’ve had in recent years.

Who am I doing it for?

I’m doing this for Dan, I’m doing it for his family and friends, I’m doing it for my family especially Elaine and the triplets and I’m doing it for myself. I’m doing it for myself to prove that I can. I’m doing it in the memory of a departed friend who I miss dearly. He was such a wonderful person that he left an impression on everyone who met him and he will also have a special place in my life. He is sorely missed and I’m doing this for him. I’m also doing it for the people that are important to me or who inspire me to be a better person and to try and improve myself.

What do I want to achieve?

The first thing I want to achieve is to complete everything that I set out to do. That is what I’ve said I’m going to do so that is what I’m now going to go out and do. It’s not going to be easy as the targets I’ve set myself are testing, especially given how unfit I am at the moment, but I believe that they are achievable. I’m not sure everyone who has seen the list will agree with me but it’s up to me to prove those people wrong.

The second thing I want to achieve is to raise £5000 for the Blurt Foundation and Mind. It’s an ambitious total but I think I can get there over the course of a year. Through that I’m also hoping to raise awareness. There are more people out there struggling than anyone realises and you become very good at hiding it especially given the stigma of mental illness and the fact that it is often seen as a sign of weakness. Everyone needs to be more open about mental illness so that we can reduce the stigma and show that it isn’t a weakness, it’s just an illness like any other and needs treatment.

Finally I want to prove something to myself and to find the spark again.

What would be a successful outcome?

Successful completion of the list of events and to achieve the fund raising total would be a measure of success. As important as that would be raising awareness and getting people talking about mental illness as that is as likely to make a difference as the fund raising. I’d also feel like it had been a success if I can get other people involved to bring people together for a good cause.

Going back to the mental preparation, one of the things that I’ve always struggled with is the high expectations that I set for myself and the pressure that I’ve put on myself to achieve those standards. That’s one of the main reasons that I have had issues as if your expectations are too high or you don’t put the work in to achieve them then you are always going to fail. It is that failure that has then caused me problems as I’m always very hard on myself anyway but even more so when I’ve failed at something.

The plan I’ve given myself for 2015 will give me a focus so that I can try and get myself back to where I want to be. By making a commitment to doing this, putting it out in public and trying to raise some money for charity at the same time I’ve put myself in a situation so that I can’t fail.  It might look like I’m putting pressure on myself and setting myself up for failure by putting forward such a challenging list but I’m looking at it as giving me the additional incentive and motivation that I need in order to get there. I’ve had some great support from friends and family and the fact that some people are going to join me in some of the events adds both a level of support but also belief that you can do and they will help you through it.

In a strange way I’m looking forward to starting challenges and to testing myself. I’ve also been enjoying the training and pushing myself to try and get beyond my limits. I’m determined that 2015 is going to be a good year and that it will be the start of something good.

Onwards and upwards

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