How bad do you want it?

How bad do you want it?

I know I promised you content related to my disintegrating concrete driveway but I lost track of time and realized that I am running a marathon on Sunday! Sunday…!

Mental toughness…is tough!

I consider “How bad do you want it? Mastering the psychology of mind over muscle.” by Matt Fitzgerald as one of my top go to books and mantras when I need to be motivated.

Let me tell you why.

Eleven months ago, I was really struggling mentally with two things:

  1. Top on my list was my inability to enjoy golf. I was stuck in a pattern of high expectations on low scoring based on my increased time spent practicing and playing golf.
  2. The second thing I was struggling with was my road cycling training.
 

Golf

Golf was not any fun for me in the early summer of 2023. Just like the start of every hockey season with the Oilers, I was excited about golf last year and claimed “This is the year that I finally shoot lower scores”.

SIDE NOTE: When this comes out, the Oilers will be in the conference finals or done for the season and on the golf course with me. Either it’s another exciting round of hockey or another year of false hope. I predict a solid win by the Oilers and another round of hockey. Go Oilers!

I decided to find a sports psychologist again to improve my mental game in golf. This would be the second time I worked with a sports psychologist to work through mental barriers in golf. I had done something similar years ago. That sport therapist is where I got my mantra “next shot”.

I worked with Katie for the rest of the year from July through December. We dug into a lot of topics including why I was so invested in my performance.

We talked about my triggers and why I draw conclusions from a small data set. For example, why I get upset with one or two bad shorts, or two bad rounds, instead of looking at the last 10-20 rounds of data.

I am definitely in the habit of minimizing my successes and magnifying the failures. I tend to catastrophize things even when things aren’t that bad. For instance, in the middle of a hot streak of good scores, I will be thinking about the “wheels falling off” instead of enjoying it.

Mainly, by focusing on a single result, my score, and nothing else, I forgot why I was playing golf…to have fun and hang out with my friends.

Golf became a statistic, a score on a piece of paper instead of an experience and hobby to be enjoyed.

Therapy works!

I found a way to enjoy golf last summer with the help of Katie. My last session was November 9, 2023. I enjoyed a full winter of virtual golf and my start to spring golf has been very good.

Once the season kicks up into full motion, I will touch base with Katie just to make sure I keep my mental attitude on track this summer. Without a regular check-in, it is easy to fall back into old habits and old triggers.

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Otherwise, read on to hear more about my work with Katie!

Cycling

In my blog from last year, Windy Days, I describe why I was struggling with cycling and life. I talked about physical wind and figurative wind. I think it is one of my strongest blog posts of last year. The term windy days has become a regular way for me to describe the adversity we face every day.

You can read about my blog from last year titled Windy Days.

I believe that we all have windy days and need to build up the resiliency to handle them. Windy days happens to be one of the chapter titles of my upcoming book this fall: Dennis on the Run – A sobering journey of lasting change. 

Last week, I provided an update on my plum tree story. My plum tree just signed a release form approving the content in my book! 🙂

Katie

It was when I talked to Katie about my setbacks in cycling training that she recommended “How bad do you want it?”

It was a perfect book for me. I loved it and soaked up the message quickly. “How bad do you want it?” – quickly become one of my life mantras.

The book cover describes the book completely:

  • Fitzgerald puts the reader inside breathtaking races, shedding new light on what science says about mental fortitude and how anyone can cultivate the mental strength to surmount challenges – in sport and in life.
 

I highly recommend this book. You can pick it up today using my Amazon affiliate link.

Through this book and mantra, I was able to complete my training last year for a 135 KM road bike race. You can read about that milestone here. In short, I badly wanted to finish that road race and I fought through the mental and physical hardship to celebrate at the finish line!

If you haven’t read my previous blogs on these topics, I recommend that you check them out. You will realize how important the concepts of resiliency and adversity are to me. I write about them a lot!

Wait…!

Your title says “Lessons learned from my marathon training”, and all you have talked about is golf and cycling. What’s up?

Running

With the release of Run For Your Life – Lessons Learned From Going the Distance in March, and my own book coming out in September, Dennis on the Run, I decided to train for a marathon this year. 

I mean…you can’t publish two books with “run” in them and call yourself Dennis on the Run if you aren’t running!

I signed up for the Calgary Marathon this year. The race is Sunday, May 26. It’s five days away…

I like the Calgary Marathon for a couple of reasons.

  1. It’s a beautiful race course.
  2. The marathon is an established race that is well supported by the Calgary community.
  3. I have friends that race every year. So it’s a little bit of a tradition.
 

The last time I ran in Calgary was May 2022. I completed a sub-2 hour half marathon and then sub-20 minute 5 KM race shortly after. Double threat!

I trained for that event hard to meet those aggressive times. Combined with training for a sub-2 half, I hit the practice range for golf hard that spring. I ended up hurting my big toe that spring.

That kicked off 1.5 years of cycling for me.

2024

But, in 2024, I’m back to running. I signed up to complete my second marathon.

Training was going extremely well. At the end of March, I completed week 16 of my 18 week training plan. I was ready for the marathon and I intended to train for a new personal best. My goal was clear, I planned to complete the marathon in 4.5 hours, thus cutting 30 minutes from my previous personal best time.

I still had six weeks of training left. I was going to be more than prepared to destroy my previous best!!!

Then more windy days hit. A vicious illness hit me that had me fighting two sinus infections over six weeks. I got clobbered with a bad cold, sinus drip and a terrible cough for all of April and most of May.

I am only starting to feel better now, almost two months later. My training was disrupted. 

I last ran on April 3. My next run would not be until May 12 and it was less than 6 KM.

To say that my body has forgotten my training would be an understatement. And I don’t have enough time to add more kilometers quickly.

If you aren’t a runner, it’s important that you know that the week before the race is rest week. Your body needs time to recover and rest from the rigorous training schedule. But you only do that in the last week. My target KMs for the week before the race should be a total of 25 KM over the full week.

Because of the illness, I have been in recovery for the last six weeks. Not just the week before the race.

But I couldn’t resist. I needed to test myself a little in the last week to make sure that I remind my body what it feels like to hit the pavement. 

I ran a few times last week and ended with a 20 KM run on Sunday, a week before the race. My training plan says this should have been a 6 KM fun run.

I hurt. My body isn’t used to running long distances again.

At this point, it’s going to be mind over muscle…

How bad do I want it?

I want this. It’s important to me because I committed to running a marathon this year. It’s important to my story. I need to put the “run” back into Dennis on the Run.

Mostly, I am hoping that my previous training will kick in and combine with a little bit of race day adrenaline, will lead to a sub-5 hour marathon.

BUT…

If it takes me 6 hours, and I walk the last 10 KM, that’s okay. This is about finishing a goal. I need to push through windy days. This is about proving to myself that I can do it in the face of adversity.

This is about proving to you that you can do it too!

If I can do it, you can do it!

It’s one of my life mottos. I lead by example. Look to me for motivation and inspiration. I hope that you can see that in me.

So, here I am, five days before race day, and I am not physically ready. But I am mentally ready to move forward. I am prepared for the fight.

No pain, no gain!

Wrap Up

Windy days…they suck! But they are going to happen to all of us. It is how you respond to windy days that shows your character.

How do you handle and respond to windy days?

If you are planning to be at the Calgary Marathon, I would love to say hi. My race package pick up is around 12:30pm on Saturday. And I’ll be in the starting shoot ready to go at 7am on Sunday and I expect to finish in 4:30 – 5 hour mark.

So plan to be cheering me on at the finish line at 11:30am.

I expect that I’ll be balling at the finish line again. This is another milestone for me. My training didn’t go as planned. But this milestone is no less special than my first marathon. If anything, I faced more adversity training for my second marathon.

There is a ton of other stuff going on in my life right now. Yet, I spent the time to train for a marathon because it’s important to me. 

The next time you face adversity and feel like quitting, I want you to ask yourself:

How bad do I want it?

And then respond accordingly. Inspire and motivate yourself to push through the adversity. You’ll find each time you do this that you’ll build up a resume of resiliency.

I would love to hear your words of encouragement in the comments. So leave a comment with your favorite motivational mantra. Of if you are running in Calgary on the weekend. let me know in the comments with your goal time.

See you at the finish line!!!

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