It’s not a major secret that I’m a massive introvert. I was shy my whole life, and even now, I deal with pretty major social anxiety despite leading a pretty outwardly extroverted lifestyle. I find that for me, I struggle the most with casual situations and less with public speaking where I know what my role is, but whatever the situation, I have been known to hide in the bathroom, so when I saw Hiding in the Bathroom: How to Get Out There When You’d Rather Stay Home by Morra Aarons-Mele peaking out of the stacks at the library, I snagged it immediately.
I’m lucky that I can tamp down my anxieties around being in crowds and once I warm up, I love being around people and meeting new people in new places. (I mean, we did spend the last three years on the road with the biggest extrovert I know, Jeremy Powers, and I did manage to meet Peter at a race in China. So I’m capable of getting by in an extrovert’s world.) But I do sometimes wish I found it less intimidating, walking into a crowd and chatting with people I don’t know. (Case in point: I was just at Rally Cycling’s team launch where everyone I did know was busy chatting with sponsors, so I was the wallflower for a bit. Luckily, I met an actual freaking FBI special agent in the buffet line, who I then drove crazy with X-Files oriented questions, then discovered some other people I knew. So introverts, believe me when I say it’s possible to be social.)
That said… I was SO stoked to have a hotel room to myself that night to recharge, which I think it my biggest introvert giveaway now that I’m (sort of) past the shy stage of my life: I need alone time to recharge. You should see me after a talk—it’s embarrassing how low my energy goes!
Funny enough, my introvert tendencies crop up the most in terms of athletics. I hated team sports growing up, and even now when I have tons of awesome people to potentially train with, I still find solo training to almost always be my preference. I love learning at clinics, but I find them as draining as giving talks. I still get out and ride with people and love when I do, but more often than not, the shy kid in me craves that solo time on the bike or the trails.
Anyway, some highlights from this extremely helpful book, especially how it applies to athletes:
RIGHT?! She talks about this in depth in the context of FOMO, especially how people tend to post their workouts, and how it can make us feel like $hit. Her message: do what makes you feel good, not what will look best on social media.
“Appropriate effort is the opposite of our culture’s expectation to always do your best.”
Do you need to bake those cupcakes instead of buying them? Can you go on a walk instead of a 10-mile run when you’re exhausted? This isn’t an excuse to eat like crap or skip workouts, rather, it’s a reminder that we can dial back. We can still eat a healthy dinner, but maybe it’s an easy salad thrown together with what’s in the fridge versus cooking something fancy. Maybe instead of going to Pilates, you do a short yoga video. What I see a lot and have done myself is the ‘if I can’t do it right, I won’t do it at all’ thing. And that’s the most dangerous part of this expectation that everything needs to be perfect. Let’s go progress, not perfection.
Craft a vision statement/have a mission
Important for life and for your training/sport goals. Enough said. (Check out my one word resolution for some ideas to kickstart you if this is a new concept.)
Chunk your day
Aarons-Mele writes about figuring out when you’re at your productive / creative peak for work, and the same applies for your workouts. If you’re a morning person, work out then, not at 8PM. For me, I know I have the best creative energy right after breakfast for 2-3 hours, then it’s time for a workout just ahead of lunch. Then, I know that I’ll hit a creative slump mid-afternoon (ideal time for interviews, admin stuff or the less creative web work) and usually it’s time for another quick walk before I hit one last creative block (I’m writing this during one now!) that comes right before dinner. I try to keep my plans working within this routine because I know it’s how I feel the best and get the most done with the least amount of effort forcing creativity where none exists. It’s also the least draining.
“My heroes don’t use fancy watches to win business.”
Your work speaks for you in a way expensive clothes never will. Sound like this doesn’t apply to training? Think again. I remember winning triathlons on a junky old road bike wearing a cheap bathing suit. I finished high in my age group in Ironman this summer on a road bike, handily passing a lot of fancier aero bikes and gear. I’ve come up in the world of gear for sure, and I believe you need the right tools for the job, but they’re just that: tools. A pair of fancy-ass new shorts might feel nice and give you a bit of a boost but they won’t really change your results. Your training does that.
I could go on and on, but this is a quickie so I’ll stop with that. I loved this book and if you relate to ANY of that, definitely give it a read. You can get “Hiding in the Bathroom: How to Get Out There When You’d Rather Stay Home” by Morra Aarons-Mele on Amazon here.
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