Monday, June 09, 2008

HTFU and CTFO

Whew!

Whirlwind week/end. Soooooooomuchfun in Indiana, but a little rough coming home last night and not getting into bed until 2, and then turning around and heading to my sauna of a classroom again. Doh! A few more days and then I'm chillin' for a few months. Awesome!

So I was thinking during my workouts this weekend (first open water swim for me--yay!) about how much my head game has shifted lately. Part of that is, undoubtedly, due to my brain being rewired as of last October 2. Maybe some of this is just me being officially in my 30s and staring at my 10th year of teaching. (How did that happen, by the way?) I'm fascinated with the mental side of training and racing and it makes me long for the days when I got to teach Psychology as an elective. So. Cool.

It seems like there are really two major schools of thought out there. The first, and major one, that I hear a lot about is HTFU. Which means, loosely translated, Harden the Freak Up. (Some words have been changed. :)

Yes, yes....we may hate to admit this, but us triathletes are a notoriously whiny bunch. Waaaaah, waaahh, waaaahh, my heart rate, the weather, the wind blew at me, someone looked at me funny, the guy in front of me farted in my face, a piece of grass blew the wrong way, the water was too wet, etc. And I know that, from time to time, I am totally guilty of said whining. Hence the HTFU phrase. At times, necessary, no? Now, no disrespect to those who make this their #1 philosophy. There are a million and one ways to do something, and some HTFU'ers do extremely well focusing on this motto. Hey, you know what? I am a firm believer in that you do WHATEVER works for YOU.

I have come to accept, after much fighting and banging my head against the wall in my past 30 years, that HTFU does not work well for me.

CTFO does.

This means, again loosely translated, "Chill the Freak Out."

As evidenced with my two races thusfar this season, when I CTFO, I do the best. Perhaps this is because I put a great deal of pressure on myself already (which is the theory College Friend devised this weekend as we were discussing the subject). College Friend is a fantastic tennis player and played 4 years of varsity doubles. She said how it's similar, and she had to adapt since when you play doubles, you are two people who must play like one. Sometimes her partner would be a HTFUer, and sometimes they would be more of a CTFOer. So she adapted so that they could focus as one unit. That would be really hard to do, I think. I guess that's why she's really good at tennis and I'm the world's worst. :)

But in triathlon, when I have, in my head, said, "Okay, self. You're going to start going as fast as you can, for as long as you can, and as hard as you can, and have as much fun as you can" I have ended up with 19 seconds shy of a 5 year old PR in a 5K, and a 5+ minute PR in the half marathon.

When I obsess and stress about this heart rate and that heart rate, this temperature, this result or this split and make that the driving force in my race, I just--plain and simple--don't do as well. Sersly--for cryin' out loud. My paycheck does not depend on this, you know? For most of us out there, it doesn't. This is a hobby. This is not definitive of my self-worth or character.

C.
T.
F.
O.

It is one of many pieces of who I am, and I'm going to enjoy it as much as I can. At the risk of sounding too-Pollyanna-ish/Thoreau-ish, I'm just gonna CTFO and enjoy being out there with my health and my friends and enjoy every start and finish line I'm lucky enough to be at.

Unconventional, I know. From what I can gather, most triathletes seem to be HTFUers. But it works for me, so I'm gonna go with it.

Coach Emily and I discussed this and she said that she sees similar patterns in her swimmers that she coaches. Sometimes they get so caught up in the numbers they forget that they CAN do it. If they just let go of the B.S. and extra stuff and just go hard, they do well, and they hit the numbers they were so focused on anyway.

So, I guess I'm going to keep training as hard and as often as I can, and in a race I'm going to start fast and then keep getting faster.

Let's try it this way, self. Let's see how this goes.

19 comments:

Wes said...

I like CTFO just as well :-) Two ends to the same means...

Amy said...

That is EXACTLY what I needed to read after the past week I've had. Thank you Sara,

Steve Stenzel said...

I like "CTFO" - that's a keeper...

R. Jeffrey Davis said...

Great post and I think I'll link to it on my blog. Thanks!

tracie said...

I agree! CTFO is definitely something ti keep in mind!

Eric said...

I've read some books where your best performances come from a 70% effort because you are more relaxed and a reaxed body performs better......so......CTFO

Pharmie said...

I think I'm a mix of HTFU and CTFO, most often on the same day!

Sweet said...

I definitely think both of these can co-exist in athletes. In fact, I would further argue that quite a few elite athletes are extremely laid back but can flip the HTFU switch for training and racing.

triguyjt said...

when you are on the course and your body is telling you.."not gonna do it" then you kinda reach back and tell yourself HTFU.

but in everyday life...training..working..hanging with friends and stuff. it is definitely CTFO

IronMatron said...

I think I think both ways? They are not mutually exclusive. I NEED to HTFU because I can become so self pitying when things go awry, and I think triathlon has really, really helped me to HTFU everywhere in my life. But I also believe in CTFO. I absolutely do best, like you, when I just let it rip and don't focus on the numbers.
Only a little bit before we are free! (for a bit anyway...)

Charlie said...

Thanks for the reminder. I consider myself chill most of the time. Sometimes a slow race gets to me. I needed to read this.

Taconite Boy said...

Once again. Tac finds himself on the eve of Ironman and who gives him some awesome mental racing advice....The Trisara Tops/Electro Woman

Great Post....Will be utilizing the phrase in 12 days.

:)

Sarah said...

CTFO. Love it!

tri-mama said...

CTFO-better then blood doping and a must have mom skill that easily adapts to training and racing. When you freak, just think of the little man's smile, your heart rate drops, you relax and you have fun, because you can. :-)

New Orleans hmmmm????

Alili said...

Can I have it both ways? CTFO is definitely a keeper...and HTFU is for those cry baby days:)

Rural Girl said...

I like to whine about the weather. That should probably stop and I should CTFO.

Kathy said...

CTFO - perfect!

JenC said...

I have found that this year with no goals, I'm totally CTFO. And, you know what? I'm not any slower than I was, but I am more relaxed. That rocks!

Siren said...

I might need to get CTFO tattooed on the back of my hand or something...