I registered today and thought to myself: “This just got very real!”
I’ve decided to train for the Whistler (BC) Ironman in July 2017. The main reason: It’s a challenge that will help me grow both as a person and as a psychologist. One would be hard-pressed to find a challenge as physically grueling as a full Ironman but it’s the mental side of the challenge that fascinates me most. I’ve reached the point where I’d rather not sit on the sidelines and take a “those who can’t do, coach” mindset moving forward in my life and career.
I was an NCAA Division I swimmer but haven’t competed in any organized sport since
I graduated from college back in 2006 (Are you kidding me??!! 10 years!). My attention has been divided over these past 10 years into 3 very important areas: 1) Complete master’s and doctorate degrees in clinical psychology (check!); 2) start a family and all that comes with it (check!); 3) begin a career as a licensed psychologist (check!). However, there has been a missing piece to my puzzle these past 10 years and, for some reason, it’s taken me this long to realize it. Specifically, the passion that I have to see what I’m capable of both physically and mentally. In essence, it goes hand-in-hand with my strong appetite for learning.
As a clinical psychologist with a specialization in sport psychology, I have had the opportunity to work with NCAA Division I and Division III athletes and high school athletes who perform at a high level. However, my applied sport psych experience and how it applies to me has been extremely limited. I initially got into the field of clinical psychology because I was well aware of the power the mind had over one’s performance. Here are the basics to my progression: Late in my high school swimming career I became frustrated with my lack of progress as I hit a plateau that lasted almost 2 years. I was desperate to figure out why because I had been doing most things right (a lot of people will tell you that there weren’t many who could outwork me :-)). I eventually turned my focus to psychology and soon found out that it was my negative self-talk and poor stress management skills that were contributing to my flat-lined performance. That was most of it. It was as basic as it comes but proved to be effective. That opened my eyes to a new found goal. I would become a clinical psychologist in an effort to learn as much as I could to help enhance the performance of others.
“See One, Do One, Teach One”. This theory is one of the main methods of teaching in a traditional medical school setting. I believe in it and always have. However, somewhere along the line I have lost touch with it. Specifically, in my efforts to learn about applied sport psychology I have really focused my attention on seeing and teaching while my doing has been a distant 3rd in the rankings. It’s time to change that. I know it will make me a better professional and I can’t wait to put all I’ve learned and been teaching to the test. It’ll be my own little case study and I have no question that it will help me take steps towards my ultimate career goal: Becoming one of the best sport psychologists out there. I recognize that all athletes are different and, as a result, will require something that specifically fits them. However, I truly think that experiencing, in-vivo, the strategies I know and believe in will even further my ability to become knowledgeable, adaptive, and credible in my future work with athletes. In the past, I always responded better to professors, teachers, and coaches who had been there before. Whether it was a retired federal agent teaching a class about organized crime or a psychologist in practice who had a passion for teaching budding clinical psychologists, their real-life experience sure had a positive effect on me! I remember thinking to myself, ‘They’ve been there. I should listen up and learn’. I want to have a similar impact on my future clients. So, why not put my sights on a full Ironman in Whistler, BC, Canada? After all I’ve just said, I better put my money where my mouth is!
Stay tuned for more as I start planning for this awesome adventure.