I wrote the initial draft of this post just days after the massive turnout for the Women’s March not only in Washington but around the world. It’s been incredible to see the ripple effect (which has become a tsunami) of activism by and amongst women particularly in recent months.
I see a ripple effect in the lives of the women around me too.
I see my brave, strong and confident clients, Sparta Chicks and girlfriends raising brave, strong and confident daughters.
I see them inspire their girlfriends and family members to challenge their comfort zones, to try new things, to follow the whispers of their curiosity (the voice that says “I wonder if..” or “I would love to…”) and ultimately chase their dreams and goals in life too.
Over the years, I’ve seen so many women thrive when they discover endurance sports.
And while I have thrived too, there are still multiple ways, every day, I get caught and paralysed by my self-doubt and insecurity too.
Reflecting over the Christmas and New Years period, I recognised a number of ways I held myself back during 2016 which not only stagnated the work, growth and impact of Sparta Chicks but also my own growth and development too.
One of the phrases that really hit home for me over this period was:
Especially when there consists of new challenges, big dreams and ambitious goals that make you feel sick to your stomach and/or curl up in bed, pull the sheet over your head (it’s too hot in Australia right now to use a doona!) and hide.
(Even writing this post makes me want to do that!)
It’s the result of all your thoughts and fears, the stories you tell yourself, the mindset you have and your perception about what you can or can’t do.
These elements (or ingredients) combine to influence and dictate the decisions you make and the actions you take. Those decisions and actions ultimately produce a result; sometimes it’s the outcome you want or the goal you’ve set. And sometimes you fall a little short.
Gandhi (supposedly) said it better than I ever could:
The link between the beliefs you have, the words you use, the actions you take and the habits you develop is undeniable.
Unfortunately where most women (myself included) get stuck is that we try to change our actions and habits (training sessions we do, the groups and people we train with, the goals we set etc) without addressing the underlying elements of the beliefs we have and the words we use.
These beliefs and words show up (sometimes without us even recognising it) in the stories we tell ourselves about what we can and can’t do, how we aren’t “ready” (my personal favourite), how we aren’t (nor will ever be) good / fast / strong / fit “enough”, that we aren’t a triathlete or runner (even though we’ve done both) or when we feel like a fraud when we front up at a new training group or stand on the start line of a race, look around and think to ourselves “everyone else looks so fit, I don’t belong here”.
I’ve seen a few examples of this popping up on Facebook in the last week from women who are considering withdrawing from events 4 to 6 months in the future because a few hard training sessions, or sessions that don’t meet their expectations, are triggering their old beliefs about who they are and what they can, or can’t, achieve.
Working on our physical fitness and strength without addressing our underlying beliefs, self-doubt, patterns of self-sabotage (my personal favourite is procrastination) and fear is like trying to build a 2-storey home on shifting sands.
What got you here won’t get you there
The same old approach (to our mindset, beliefs, words, actions and habits) will work for a while. But just like your fitness will plateau if you run the same loop around the neighbourhood all the time or you repeat the same training session every week, the same beliefs and words can keep you trapped, and even paralysed, at the same level.
I know that’s happened to me.
Something’s gotta change.
There are already a few things I’ve realised I need to change in 2017.
I was listening to a podcast interview with Brené Brown recently. She was saying now she’s written books, and is seen as an expert, on shame, vulnerability and courage, she has to be “all in” in these discussions. She has to share her struggles openly on these topics too.
And, as much as it is incredibly uncomfortable for me and as much as I want to hide, I feel the same way about my role here at SpartaChicks, both in terms of shining a light on my own experience (in the hope it helps you see your own journey in a new light) but in creating a platform and sharing the stories and experiences of others so each of us can find our way through the haze of self-doubt and fear and instead find, and tap into, our inner mental strength, bravery and courage.
For me, it also means…
… recognising that SpartaChicks growth and impact is directly affected - and dare I say it, stunted - by my own fears and insecurities. But now that I see “what got me here won’t get me there” (when "there" represents the ambitious goals I have for Sparta Chicks and a deep desire to help as many women as possible recognise their own strength), I know I need to continue working to improve my beliefs and mindset alongside you too.
… showing up and being seeing on Strava. Not because I give a shit about getting kudos. But because one of the ways I’ve hidden and allowed my fear to dictate my decisions is by not using Strava because I’ve secretly feared what others would think about my (lack of) fitness (let’s be clear - I’m not for a moment suggesting that you need to be on Strava, especially if you’re triggered by it. But it’s one way I’ve chosen to “practice my preach” and show up in the world, regardless of my fears).
…continuing to write personal posts, like this one, which make me feel sick to my stomach with a vulnerability hangover (as my gal Brené would say) when it would be so much easier to lay on the couch and watch a bad daytime movie.
…launching the podcast (finally). If you’ve been around the Sparta Chicks community for a while, you’ll know I’ve talked about this project for almost a year. I wrote recently about how my fear of not being ready or “good enough” and of feeling like an imposter had completely paralysed me. So this year, in recognising “what got me here won’t get me here”, I’m doing the work I need to do to process and understand these fears so I can move this project forward. So stay tuned very soon and you’ll have a front-row seat to my “way outside my comfort zone” experience! [Postscript from February 2017 - I've done it. Sparta Chicks Radio is now live!]
After being involved in endurance sports since 2004 and in coaching women since 2010, I've realised what holds most women back is NOT physical.
It’s not the physical requirements of your sport. It’s not how far or fast you need to run or ride or swim or kayak or mountain bike or how many sets of stairs you can climb without wanting to puke. To be honest, that’s the easiest part of the training “puzzle” to build.
What holds you, and I, back from our potential and our dreams is our fear, self-doubt and Inner Critic (the little voice inside your head that tells you can't).
For this reason, the training advice here at Sparta Chicks will be few and far between this year. There are plenty of places you can find solid, smart training advice on the inter web.
Instead, my focus is to (continue to do) everything I can (even when I’m so far outside my comfort zone I want to vomit) to help, support and inspire you to overcome your fears so you can achieve the exciting and ambitious goals you’ve set for 2017 - and beyond.
With this mission in mind, you’ll be seeing more inspiring stories coupled with practical, tried-and-tested-in-the-real-world advice on fears, self-doubt, self-sabotage, bravery, courage and how to show up when all you want to do is hide.
These stories will be shared via the podcast, articles in the library (like this one), in our books (yes, there will be a second one released this year), in the race reports and case studies we share, in an online mindset program (which we’re testing in the background at the mo’) and in a private members-only Facebook community.
Plus we’ll be growing the Sparta Chicks team and I would love to see 1,000 women on our #10kStrongWomen list by the end of 2017 (imagine the ripple effect of strength, power and self-belief that will unlock in our society?)
That is my mission for 2017 here at Sparta Chicks. And I hope you’ll join me.
So what do you need to change in 2017?