How Do You Choose To Move Through Your 24 hours? Reflections from Mt. Shasta 50k.

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Last weekend I finished my second 50k at the Headwaters Ultra Trail Run at Mt. Shasta. It was a great feeling to finish such a difficult race! However, I had one major insight early on in the race that helped guide my focus- “How am I going to choose to move through this race and how am I going to choose to move through my 24 hours?” Knowing that I had at most 8 hours to be out there to be with a mountain, myself and other athletes this was a powerful insight. We can have many choices (and experiences) in the duration of 8 hours.

Wikipedia defines choices as…

“Choice involves mentally making a decision: judging the merits of multiple options and selecting one or more of them. One can make a choice between imagined options (“what would I do if …?”) or between real options followed by the corresponding action…the arrival at a choice includes more complex motivators, cognition, instinct, and feeling can become more intertwined.

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I teach athletes about process goals all the time– which is another way of outlining how an athlete wants to choose to move through their race, but when you frame it in the manner of choosing to move through a designated time it gives it a different meaning. Because regardless of how I go through my 24 hours it will pass all the same, for everyone.

Based on the above definition I feel that choosing is first a matter of conscious awareness that you have a choice and what you have choices regarding, such as, a choice in what to pay attention to, what to think, how to respond to a situation, what to feel, what environments or situations you put yourself in, whom you choose to have in your life, etc. For example, do I choose to stop at the aid station or not? If I do, do I walk it or run through it? Will I choose to say “Thank you” to the volunteers? All of these will impact how you experience your time and how you will move through the next minute, hour, or day.

One choice that many athletes forget during a race when the pressure is on is that that have chosen to be out there…meaning YOU SIGNED UP FOR THIS…you agreed to toe the line, you paid the fee, and agreed to pre-set race conditions (rules, course, etc.). That’s a powerful choice that we don’t always remind ourselves of when the race gets stressful. However, I did remind myself of this during my 50k. I reminded myself that I am lucky to have a body to scale this mountain. I choose to remind myself that 8 hours will pass whether I am sitting on the sofa watching TV, riding my bike, doing research, shopping, etc. No matter what I choose to fill the 8 hours (or the 24 hours) with it will pass all the same.

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During my 7 hrs and 52 minutes I choose to remind myself that I lucky to be out there, to be on a mountain moving my body through nature. I choose to smile at my fellow athletes and cheer them on when they passed me. I choose to honor them when they passed me because they (like me) are doing hard work with our body to move through this distance and time. I chose to say “thank you to volunteers.” I choose to slow my body and my pace down and to redirect my ego. I choose to wear my lucky bracelets given to me by my race mentor Janet to remind myself that I cared for and loved by my friends. I choose to thank my husband and Frida (my dog) for being out there for over 8 hours to (because they choose to move through their 8 hours support me…such a gift that makes me tear up every time).

If you follow me on FB then you might have read my post race reflection last week and shared a little more of what I choose to focus on, if not here it is:

“Headwaters 50k in Mt. Shasta was epic to finish! So blessed and thankful to have my hubby’s support and Frida at the finish line! I had one main goal- keep my mind right. Which meant constant mindful redirecting of my focus over the course of 32 miles. I had lots of conversations with God, my ego, nature, sweet little grasshoppers flitting at my feet. I slowed my body to slow my mind to explore what is really there. All-in-all I was able to find peace in my pace and each step. When times got tough and I asked my self the question most endurance athletes ask themselves “Why do I do this to myself?”…answer: to find God within. Joy became present at the end of the journey. 5712ft of climbing in 7 hrs and 52 minutes over 32 miles makes one long communion. When was the last time you raced to be with yourself and to let go attachments to outcome? When was the last time you truly let go of expectations and made peace and joy in the moment as the main goal? When was the last time you reminded yourself that you can do hard things and it’s the hard things that make our spirit stronger and ego weaker? We must purge the depths of our negative conditioning and go through the layers of superficiality within in order to realize to greatness of Spirit that’s is ever present.”

So beautiful people, next time you go into that one-hour staff meeting, 8 hour work day, 6 hour race, 17 hour race, 10 minute conversation, ask yourself how am I going to choose be move through this time? Am I going to choose to be kind, pleasant, to be a supporter of myself and others. Am I going to choose to fill these moments with inner peace, calm and responsiveness, or am I going to succumb to automatic default patters of the ego that fill my time with insecurity, fear, self-doubt, or more of the same ole safe old lack of satisfaction?  It’s your choice. Remember time is a chuck of your life that you don’t get back. So start now by choosing how you want to move through your life and time…

Shine on!

-Dr. G

Don’t forget that you are the king or queen of your domain and move through life with confidence…I believe in YOU!

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Dr. Gloria Petruzzelli

Dr. Petruzzelli is clinical sport psychologist and certified mindfulness meditation teacher located in Sacramento, California. She works with elite athletes and sport teams across the country. She is competitive athlete herself and enjoys practicing yoga, spending time with her family and traveling.