Life, Triathlon

Peer Pressure

We often think of peer pressure as a negative thing.  The thought that we would do something we normally would not do just because someone else is, makes people very uncomfortable.  As parents, there’s a fear that you will get a call that your kid got hurt or did something foolish because one of their friends was doing the same.  I can’t tell you how many times I heard “and if your friend jumped off a bridge, would you do that too?” growing up.  I want to make sure my own son knows that he should be his own person.  That he should go against the grain if that’s what his gut tells him to do.  That he doesn’t have to do what everyone else does.

Being an individual is all well and good, but we are total hypocrites too.  I’m guilty of it myself.  “Hey buddy, why don’t you go ahead and give the ride a try.  Look at all the other kids enjoying the ride.”  I have caught myself doing it on more than one occasion.  And, on more than one occasion it has had fantastic results.  Did I hate myself a little for doing it? Yeah.  Was it worth it? Totally!  Would I do it again?   I am pretty sure I would.  Is it wrong?  Maybe, maybe not.

Lately, I have been doing the same thing to myself.  I mentioned that I signed up for the Tri Swim class.  Part of what is making that successful is that I have the pressure of more than one person watching.  I have Gary, the instructor and anywhere between 3 and 10 other people trying to swim the same or similar sets.  The other night we had a really hard set (for me) and I desperately grabbed at the wall, gasping for air.  Gary said “you look like you’re gonna puke.”  I said I felt like I was going to puke.  He reminded me that I had one more to do.  I told him I didn’t think I could do one more.  His response was “Oh, I think you can” and he walked away.  Huh?   I thought to myself.  Did that just happen?  Wait a minute, I just said I can’t!  You just said I looked like I was going to puke!  I was a bit put off, but caught my breath and did another set.  When I finished, we laughed and he said he was glad I didn’t chum the water.  While I know he’s in the position of an instructor, it was more like peer pressure to me.  I knew I didn’t have to do it.  I am paying to be there, I can up and leave or just disregard if I really wanted to, but I didn’t.

Sunday, I did the women’s global bike ride.  It was only my third group bike ride.  The fastest, longest ride I had done before that, was an hour at about 16mph average.  For me, that was pretty good.  On this ride we were going to do about 17mph for two hours.  During the ride, I was constantly checking to make sure I was keeping with the group.  Then, it happened.  The lady that was acting as the group’s leader shouted “switch.”  The two front riders dropped to the back of the pack.  We were riding two abreast and I was now in third position with my partner on my left.  Switch!  Her voice rang through me like a chilling sound you would hear in a horror movie.  I began to sweat just a little more.  We were now second back.  Was I going to have to be in the front?  I don’t know how to do that.  Surely they must not realize that I have never done that before, I thought.  I shouted over to her that I had never pulled before (learned that new lingo…)  “That’s ok, this will be your first time” she said and just smiled.  I smiled back, but can’t help but feel it was one of those smiles you give where you curl your nose at the same time.  A smile you might give when a nosy neighbor brings you a casserole.

Surely we must almost be there, I thought.  Then it came….”Switch!” she shouted.  My partner and I cranked up the pace some since we were now riding in the front.  I now had to make sure I called out any road kill or debris that could result in an issue for a rider.  Thankfully, my partner Nan was awesome and she explained the nuances that came along with pulling.  We finally made it to the half way point for a break.  Since not every pair had made it to the front, I was pretty sure I could mark that experience as my first and last pull of this ride.  I was wrong.  We headed back and not long after, there I was again.  “How did we end up in the front again?” I asked.  Nan laughed and said we should have paid better attention to where we positioned ourselves in the pack when we headed back out.  The point of all this is that if it weren’t for the peer pressure, I am not sure I would have ever volunteered to pull.  While pulling on an overpass is with a headwind is not at all my favorite thing to do, I was totally stoked that I did it.

It would have really sucked to not give leading the pack a try.  Was I terrified? You bet.  What kind of wimp would I have been if I didn’t do that swim set?  Thanks peer pressure.  My son went on a few roller coasters because he was with friends at the school trip to Disney.  He realized that he really likes the rides and now we go on them when we’re there.  My swimming has started to improve as a result of being in a class with others.   I see them just as apprehensive, falling to the same peer pressure I am.  By the end of the class, we realize that the peer pressure lead us to learn that we were capable of things we didn’t think we were capable of.  You could say peer pressure is a lot like the latest research on eggs.  Good for you one day, bad for you another, ok in moderation.     I’ve told my son it’s ok to do some things because others do them, if he wants to.  That’s how some amazing movements have taken place.  That’s how people get inspired by others.  I have told him to just be sure that he knows right from wrong and never lets someone pressure him into doing something he knows is wrong.

I think it really comes down to who the peer pressure comes from.  If you surround yourself with people who do great things, then you may do great things too.  I’m grateful for all the amazing people I have been surrounding myself with lately who have inspired, and yes, sometimes pressured, me to do awesome things.


Decisions, Decisions…

Our days are full of decision-making.  Some small and easy to make immediately, others more complicated and requiring much more time and thought.  Some scholars believe that eliminating many of the mundane useless decisions, make a person perform that much better when a bigger decision arises.  That’s one of the reason some finals like Steve Jobs wore the same thing all the time.  No deciding what to wear if your closet is full of jeans and black turtlenecks.  It might seem boring to some but creates an effortless morning when getting ready.  I love that concept.  As long as I look professional, I really don’t care what I wear to work anymore.  If I could opt in to a uniform policy I would in a heartbeat.

Sometimes, when faced with a tough decision, procrastination becomes the short answer.  I’m the queen of procrastination!  I often turn to research to justify it.  Did you know that if you search hard enough you can find studies or highly educated views for both sides of an argument?  Trust me, you can!  Want to know if eggs are good for you?  You’ll find hundreds say they are and just as many say they aren’t.  That’s what makes procrastination so easy.  I can spend hours reading one side of the argument and just when I’ve decided that’s the right side to be on, I read something for the other side that is just as compelling.  Once I’ve exhausted myself with research and the views of others, I sometimes turn to a pros and cons list.  Those can be awesome if you are honest enough when making the list.  Sometimes there’s a clear winning side, other times the pros and cons are even which really doesn’t help in decision-making.

I’m struggling right now with making a decision.  It’s not really a life shattering decision.  There are so many more things out there that people have to decide on that make this seem simple, but for me it’s huge.  I’m trying to decide if I am going to hire a coach to help me in my triathlon training.  You might be wondering what exactly a coach does.  The coach will create a custom training plan based on my goals and abilities in all three sports.  The coach will provide feedback on my performance in training.  They will also provide motivation, hold me accountable and hopefully help me take my training to the next level.  I did all my research and made my pros and cons list, and I am still struggling.  The funny thing is, the research clearly showed that going with a coach would be beneficial.  The pros far outweighed the cons.  So, why am I still undecided?  I’m not 100%sure.

Maybe cost?  While money is a factor from the standpoint of it being a commitment, I can afford it and the coach I am considering is very reasonable.  Guess I’ve just officially eliminated the cost factor.  Maybe the location of the coach? The coach I’m considering is out of state, but coaches work with people all over the world.  Based on my research, local coaching doesn’t get me anything more than remote coaching.  The most I would get is maybe the coach attending the same event and proving some support at the race, but I kind of have that through the FLT club.  Most coaches, even local ones, have limits to communication each week.  The coach I am considering does not, he’s open to all communication.  Guess location’s out as a reason for procrastinating.

Is it me? (Hits nail on head.)  I have doubts in my abilities.  I question if this is something I should even bother with.  Is it pretentious of me?  Why do a I need or want a coach?  Do I expect to become a pro athlete or get on the podium?  No.  Why not just keep trucking along?  I am improving in most areas.  I should just be happy with that.  Does having a coach mean I am making this more than a hobby I love?  Is that bad?  These are the questions swirling around in my head.  Then I come to the thoughts of what having a coach hold me accountable means.  I’m already pushing myself way harder in swimming than I ever had.  Why? Well, because someone’s watching.  Someone is there to tell me that I absolutely can, even if I feel like I can’t.  I don’t get to just quit when the going gets tough.  It sucks while it’s happening but I feel all the better after I push through.  I know I need that on the swim, but do I want or even need that on the bike and run?  I feel like I already push myself in those areas, but do I have untapped potential?  It’s one thing for family and friends to tell you that you are capable of something.  It’s a whole other thing for a professional to tell you the same.  In that respect, will I be completely disappointed?  Will I be told I should just throw in the towel and find a new sport?  What happens if I spend the money and don’t get any better?  At least right now I can claim being self-taught!  Oh look who it is everyone!  It’s my dear old friend fear again!  I guess that’s what it boils down to.  I’m afraid of paying someone to tell me that I’m not good enough.  I’m afraid that people will think I’m taking myself too seriously in this sport.  I used to pay for a Jiu Jitsu coach.  Why is that different?  I don’t know all there is to know about Jiu Jitsu.  I know how to run and ride a bike (swimming not so much which is why I pay for that help now).  Is there really so much I can learn?  So, I continue to struggle with coming to a decision.  Writing this post has helped me identify exactly what the cause of my hesitation is.  Now it’s just a matter of figuring out how to get past that.