The Power of Habit

POWER

March’s business book is “The Power of Habit. Why we do what we do in life and business.” by Charles Duhigg. This is one of those books that has been haunting me for awhile – you know the one – you see it in bookstores, at the library, and hear about it online. I finally took the plunge and devoured it last month and it was worth every moment. Duhigg tells the story of our habits in snippets of science discoveries, personal anecdotes, and other academic research in a highly engaging way.

I finally took the plunge and devoured the book’s 363 pages last month and it was worth every moment. Duhigg tells the story of our habits in snippets of science discoveries, personal anecdotes, and other academic research in a highly engaging way. He told the story so well, in fact, that I am now 1/3 through his next book “Smarter, Faster, Better” but more on that one later. He firmly believes that willpower is a learnable skill and once learned it becomes a habit and second nature. For me, the verdict is still out, but I love the premises and want to prove Duhigg correct.

“The truth is the brain can be reprogrammed. You just have to be deliberate about it.” 

The Power of Habit can be all too simplified down into the follow pattern we all fall into, we have a cue that triggers a routine that elicits a reward. In the most relatable terms to me, he talks about a 3 pm sugar fix at the office. Guilty. But Duhigg goes into the reasons behind the success of fabreeze, alcoholics anonymous, football coaches, sleepwalking murderers and the Starbucks culture. The stories are quite enlightening and really well told and very applicable to anyone trying to rid themselves of a bad habit (3 pm chocolate for me) and incorporate a new routine (food preparation, exercises, prioritization at work, and the list goes on).

Slide119

“The evidence is clear: if you want to change a habit, you must find an alternate routine, and your odds of success go up dramatically when you commit to changing as part of a group.”

Duhigg also stresses the importance of small wins in goal setting and how they work together to make a big impact on a much bigger goal. I’ve been using the phrase “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time” for years so I liked the reinforcement.

“…almost all other patterns that exist… how we eat, sleep, talk…spend money – those are the habits we know exist. And once you understand that habits can change, you have the freedom – and the responsibility – to remake them. Once you understand that habits can be rebuilt, the power of habit becomes easier to grasp, and the only option left is to get to work.”

How can you not love this guy?

There is no doubt that “The Power of Habit” will remain in my permanent library collection, and I highly recommend picking this book up if you have any sort of habit you want to rid, some great insight into creating a better routine or if you just want to read some entertaining – yet scientific – stories on human behaviour.

Enjoy!

My new Focus

It’s been a long time since I written on (in?) my blog.

My fitness is nowhere near where I would like it to be, but my focus has been on other areas of my life, and I haven’t thrown my triathlon dreams out the window just yet. But I’ll get back to those dreams later. I promise.

But this blog is titled “Tiger in Training” – originally focused on my training goals, which I happily achieved in 2014 & 2015. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m constantly making goals and plans in every aspect of my life, so why not capture my thoughts on those other goals here?

Last week marked my one-year anniversary in my new position as marketing manager. A role that catapulted me out of my comfort zone and challenged me in so many areas of my knowledge and previous experience. I went to work on a Friday in my old job, none the wiser and on Monday I came in with a brand new exciting role. I absolutely love the work that I’m doing and am excited about the projects, clients and team I get to spend my days with. An important part of my position is continuous learning and that honing in on my skills will keep me at the top of my game.

This new role demanded long hours from me and a few of my other hobbies have to take a back seat, temporarily anyway. As a self-proclaimed life-long learner, I was missing my classes and seminars I use to frequent, but I was struggling to fit these events into my current heavily filled schedule. To combat this, I’ve committed to reading a business book every month and sharing my learnings via this blog.

Book One:

i-shouldnt-telling-you

I have to admit, during the first chapter of this book, ISBTYT, I was sceptical but gave it the “50-page test”, and I’m really glad I invested the time. I would compare the lessons in the book to sitting down with one of your most professional contacts and getting all the dirt on how they achieved success and lessons on how you can too. Kate White writes in an honest and frank fashion that keeps you glued to her helpful guidelines for becoming business savvy, she makes it feel achievable if you’re willing to put in the work.

White writes in an honest and frank fashion that keeps you glued to her helpful guidelines for becoming business savvy that apply if you are new in your career, seasoned or are looking to make a change. Her own career background is incredible in itself, an editor of many magazines including Redbook and Cosmopolitan along with authour of a number of mystery novels and public speaking engagements. (More here: http://katewhite.com/)

From looking the part, dealing with difficult conversations, asking for promotion and tips on public speaking and managing your time, White covers it all it a jam-packed how to kick-ass at being a professional in any career you could dream of.

I highly recommend reading this book – in fact – originally I borrowed this from the library and enjoyed it so much that I’ve decided to purchase it for future reference. This is certainly one of the few books that I will keep in my permanent collection alongside the likes of “How to say it” by Rosalie Maggio and “The Fabulous Girl’s Guide to Decorum” by Kimm Izzo and Ceri Marsh. Both books also well worth the read.

If you have a business book you would like to recommend, I would love to hear from you. I have a few on my bookshelves, some that I’m half-way through that you will read about soon!

Until then…

 

 

The other F-word

“If you don’t fail it’s because you did not risk enough, and if you didn’t risk enough it’s because you didn’t put your whole self out there.”

Sometimes you just need a good run. 

IMG_6493

The view from Tim’s start line. Hubbards is beautiful!

Every year at my work we hold a “Surviving September” party for the team. It’s a celebration of making it through the events, the hustle and bustle of the “back at it” month. It’s a celebration on surviving those 12-14 hour days getting the events going, the magazine to print, the office moved, and to get everything else going. It’s non-stop.

These are the times that training and the health-conscious me begins hibernation. I know better to sign up for the final triathlon of the season, knowing that my training wains and I end up cursing my way through the course (it only took 2-3 years to realize this fact!). Miraculously, I’ve kept my swimming up, and leading classes at Cyclone keeps me in the saddle. But running. Oh, running. It’s like drying dishes, submitting my taxes, or cleaning out the fridge; I’ll do anything but that. Anything.

IMG_6501 (1)

September Sunflowers. My favourite!

I find it sad that running and I were taking a break. We’d become so close over the last 9 months. I promised myself – after countless ‘re-starts’ – that I wouldn’t quit running. If I didn’t give it up, then I wouldn’t have that horrible first run back. You know the one. The sweaty, slow, painful, first run back that hurts the lungs, the head and the heart.

But there’s this marathon that I signed up for in 2 weeks….I’ve been battling about which distance I should realistically complete on October 11th, because I sure as heck aint ready for a marathon. I ran home a few weeks ago (6K) and I wanted to stop and walk, no crawl home. It was hot, I was sore, slow and the whole experience just wasn’t what I had been experiencing with running over the past year. I could not motivate myself to go running this month, even with Tim coming home from really great runs, I just wouldn’t dig out the runners.

IMG_6537 (1)

My speedy love, kicking relay butt. (4th place!)

Rum Rummers Relay happened today. Tim and I had signed up for this relay in May, and today was the day. I didn’t set any expectations for myself, knowing my 9.3K leg was a hilly one. I wanted to finish without the desire to crawl into the ditch (that is so 2014). But you know what? I killed it. I frigging loved the hills, down and up. Seriously. I ran hard, pushed myself and wouldn’t let ol’ wheezy behind me pass, though he tried. One woman passed me on the first 3 hills, going up and I promptly passed her going down. I challenged myself. It was amazing. The sun was shining, but it wasn’t 25+C like last year, the wind was moderate and I was well rested and fed. I smiled at the volunteers and cheerers. I love it, and thus loved running all over again.

A good race was exactly what I needed to get my running mojo back. Do I think I can achieve a PB on my marathon next month? Not likely, but heck, let’s give it a go!

RUM RUNNERS 2015

Catching my breath and oh so happy at the finish line! (49:08 / 9.3K)

Post Race Blues. It’s a thing. Who knew?

“You have good nails for someone who’s just finished an ironman” my best friend says to me. It’s just over a week since I’ve crossed the finish line of ironman and I’m back at home.

“I don’t know what to do with myself!” defending my perfectly polished nails.

“You can join the rest of us mortals and do normal things like sit on patios and watch movies”

Touché.

We were teasing, but the truth was I felt a bit lost, and even more surprising – depressed. How could I feel this way after one of the coolest vacation and experiences of my life?

Not only were Ironman and Mont Tremblant amazing, I had four incredible days with Tim in Montreal celebrating our five year anniversary exploring the city by bike, tastings in beautiful vineyards and then visiting with dear friends at a cottage. There was a food tour, a spa, an eight-course meal at one of my favourite restaurants, swimming in a beautiful lake, laughter and wine with wonderful people. You get the idea. I had absolutely nothing to be sad about…but I was. In fact, I was down right sullen. People would ask me about the race, and I would struggle to show my enthusiasm for the entire experience. I had no regrets about the race and couldn’t imagine the day going any better…but why so blue?

I read up on this phenomena (I like to call it the ‘Boxing Day Syndrome’) – it turns out its quite normal! After working all year for one large goal and putting so much focus into Ironman, once it was over there is certainly a low to follow. There were some great suggestions that I tried to put into play.

  1. Sign up for a new race. Check. I decided to finish off my race season with the Valley Harvest Marathon. This is the closest marathon to my family’s home and I’ve enjoyed completing the 5 &10K over the thanksgiving weekend. Finish a run, watch the pumpkins races in Windsor and have Nanny’s turkey dinner. The marathon has always been on my bucket list so why not now? After committing to this via my registration fee, I dusted off my runners and went for my first post-ironman ran. My plan was 16K (delusional much?) and at 5K I stopped at a friends house and wondered if I had gone insane. My hips hurt. The humidity was ridiculous. I hated running. I managed the 5K home, but wondered if recovery was going to take a bit longer than I anticipated.
  2. Do some of those things that I put off when training. Paint the deck (eat nibs), paint the garage (eat more nibs), organize my house (over wine), read more (wine), cook more (with wine), walk the dogs more, clean out my closet. I’m on it.
  3. Write. More.
  4. I’ve reached out to a few local races and offered to help out 3 local events over the fall. I really do love cheering people on! 
  5. Reconnect with those amazing non-triathletes.
  6. Chase some big career goals and professional development.   

I am happy to report my post-race sadness has dissipated completely and I’m learning the fine balance between lazing on the coach with Netflix to 6-hour bike rides. There’s a happy-medium I’m aiming towards for the remainder of 2015.

IMG_5780 IMG_5782 IMG_5773 IMG_5818

I am certainly committed to completing another ironman distance race, but I’m unsure it will be in 2016. Our family has plans in Newfoundland next summer, but I suspect there will be some local triathlons I get involved with, including Epic.

The Big Day!

I didn’t win, but it sure feels like a victory!

11890623_10153652427357845_3896559901109529912_o

This photo says it all. Except my real time 🙂 14:51:58

It’s the morning of the race and I look around to see my friends at the start line. My thought: We are really here. Excitement washed over me. Elation. All of my work – all of their work – today was finally our day.

Let’s do this.

I waited for anxiety to set in as I waited for the gun to go off, but strangely, it never did, not in the way I anticipated. We were in the water splashing around before 7am and I focused on sighting buoys through the fog and not swimming into anyone. I spent this first hour re-hashing my race plan – transition zones, nutrition, how to deal with the heat (the expected humidex was slated for 40C!) – and trying to swim straight 🙂 My garmin read 4200M when I came out of the water, but it didn’t matter, I was under 1:30 and now I could focus on the next task, the bike.

I knew the bike would be the toughest part of the race for me, and I was right. I started off with a 27km/h pace, and given the hilliness of the course, I knew I couldn’t sustain that speed. Tim and a few others started to miss me on the live tracker at some spots. You can see my speed variance here:

7 km 7 km 15:29 1:52:06 27.13 km/h      
73.5 km 66.5 km 2:40:43 4:32:49 24.83 km/h      
81.5 km 8 km 26:55 4:59:44 17.83 km/h      
89.5 km 8 km 19:11 5:18:55 25.02 km/h      
163.5 km 74 km 3:14:26 8:33:21 22.84 km/h      
171.5 km 8 km 29:29 9:02:50 16.28 km/h      
180 km 8.5 km 21:23 9:24:13 23.85 km/h      
Total 180 km 7:47:36 9:24:13 23.10 km/h

Lesson learned: I didn’t turn into a hero on race day. I had anticipated my time on the bike to be around 7h:30m, I wasn’t far off, and given the heat I’ll say it was a success. I didn’t have any mechanical issues which was a small miracle in itself. Betty’s 7 years old and has done me well. I managed to grab a big hug from my mom before I did a complete wardrobe change because it was SO. HOT. and I knew I was going to be donning some compression socks (thanks to my Fredericton Marathon experience!). I came out of the tent to find Ron chatting up my mom. I couldn’t help myself, I ran past Ron, give him a (friendly) smack and said “LET’S GO!” I was off!

The true test comes now. After spending close to 8 hours on the bike, how was a marathon going to feel? I’ve had lots of experienced Ironmen assure me I wouldn’t be running the entire 42.2K, but I was aiming to run half of that distance regardless! I saw many of my friends on the course and chatted with fellow racers throughout. There were mostly happy racers and one woman who grunted, to no one in particular,  “Why do I keep doing these races?! This is the last one, and I mean it!”. This made me smile. I think we’ve all had a race where we’ve thought that way, and I loved that she needed to verbalize it. However, I didn’t agree, at ALL. I felt strong. I kept pushing.

Our run course was a two loop trek – thankfully every marathon I’ve ever done has been the same! It can be pretty tough to come thisclose to the finish line, only to race another 21K. I’m happy to report my mindset was positive and I was truly enjoying this entire experience. The volunteers and spectators made the 5h:20m fly by. I’m serious! The rails-to-trails graced us with shade (and flatness!), and shortly after a sunset brought the much-needed cooling temperatures. High-fives and smiles from my friends from home was invaluable and I loved that so many Halifax Triathlon Club athletes made the trip and were sharing the experience.

With about 5K to go I was hoping that I could pick it up for that strong finish, but my legs had a different plan. I ended up walking/running with Pat Kennedy, someone I had only met once before and we chatted. It was his first Ironman too and he was still smiling, just like me. How exciting that we were experiencing this together! He offered to run me in, but I could tell he had a bit more gitty-up-and-go than I, so I told him to enjoy that finish line and I would see him soon. I felt confident I would finish in under 15h, and I was happy no matter.

I could hear the crowd. The announcer saying “YOU. ARE. AN. IRONMAN.” I started to tear up as I shuffled to the village. Trying to run up that final hill…I smiled and high-fived all the way to the bright lights of the finish line. I heard my mom, Karen, Sarah and everyone else that remained to bring us all across the finish line.

Becky Davison, you are an IRONMAN.

It was amazing. Outstanding. Out of this world. Dare I say, magical?  I knew I would love this experience, but I had no idea the scope. The pre-race dinner with over 2500 attendees and their collective energy. The expo where I did spend all of my allowance. The blind woman who went for it. The 75 year old man that beat me. My friends that surpassed their goals. Our families that knew what we had been through to get here and believed in us every step of the way. All of it. I want it again!

Do people actually do just one ironman!?!? Not this girl.

11896035_10155965568725385_3386504614418718599_n

Unbelievably lucky to have my mom with me. And for Sarah to have thought to take this shot!

The night before …

  
It’s past my bedtime, but I had to capture this rambling. 

This excitement and strange calmness, together. This greatfulneas that I have this opportunity, and amazing support around me. 

 I’m opptimistic about tomorrow, despite the weather forecast of extreme heat and humidity mixed with uncertainty. 

The beautiful surroundings and collective sacrifices for this event amaze me. 

I am just so excited and greatful for my support. I’m humbled by the outreach from friends and family near and far. I am blessed. 

Good night!