Habit: A settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up. The psychology of a habit is an automatic reaction to a specific situation.
This definition fails to differentiate between a good habit and a bad habit. That’s for you to define.
You can choose to create good habits that build your self-image, fitness and overall spiritual, mental and physical health. Or not. You choose; it’s your life. Always realize that your habits impact your loved ones. Again, your choice.
If you have chosen the goal of competing in the Ruidoso Sprint Triathlon June 9, then you also have the opportunity to create positive habits.
This series of columns has a foundation of learning how to set and achieve goals. Here’s a new goal: Do something positive for yourself until it becomes a habit. Realize the promise of creating habits that align with your goals and dreams.
Habits create an automatic reaction to a situation. Think of how challenging it is for a young child to ride a two-wheeled bike for the first time. Now, even though you may not have ridden a bike in years, you can ride a bike down the street.
Understand how habits are formed. There is a three-step process called the habit loop, according to New York Times writer Charles Duhigg, author of the recently released book The Power of Habit. First, there is a trigger that puts your brain in automatic mode to let the habit begin. Second, there is the routine creating the habit through repetition. Third, there is a mental reward that helps you recall the habit loop in the future.
When you ride your bike, you get on the bike and you automatically start to pedal. You have ridden the bike many times (even if it was years ago) so you pedal without thinking about it – you can even talk to someone, drink from a water bottle or eat an energy bar while riding. You are rewarded when you feel the endorphin high and feel good about yourself. It’s automatic.
Behaviors, including habits, are most easily changed when life changes, according to Duhigg. Example: Habits more easily change while on vacation because your daily routine has changed. This helps you to relax while on a holiday. (Make sure you exercise daily on vacation to reinforce your workout habit.)
Marketers take advantage of your routine changes. Major retailer Target aggressively pursues pregnant women as customers because their lives are in a state of flux and marketers know that if they can get them to Target to purchase baby products, that customer will probably still be there many years later buying high school supplies. That’s why marketers spend vast sums to attract young customers who are setting their buying habits. When is the last time you saw an old man as the main character in a beer commercial? Doesn’t happen. Marketers want the young twenty-something customer even though the old man has more expendable income.
How does this impact triathlon training? Training for a triathlon requires building new habits on a daily basis for training. This creates change in your life and the opportunity to establish positive habits. Understanding the habit loop empowers you to make habits that focus on your goals.
Our newbie triathletes – Bob, Betty and you – have already modified their daily routine (habits) to train for the Ruidoso Sprint Triathlon. That’s a positive step and it’s important to use your new healthier lifestyle to complete the habit loop.
The triathlon is less than three months away and it is serious preparation time. Here is your training for this week.
Since the weather is in our favor it’s time to check out the triathlon courses.
The snow has melted on the run course, so go to the Ruidoso Athletic Club and talk to Joe, Frederick or myself (Sarah) if you need the course route. One day test the bike course (I suggest a weekend or morning with less traffic) and another day check out the run course.
Make a mental note of places on the course you find challenging and – if you have time – ride or run those a few times to build confidence.
Swim three times this week – focus on your form with long strokes and relaxed breathing. Open your eyes, keep your rear high in the water and kick from your hips. Always blow your air out in the water before your roll to breathe. This prevents you from hyperventilating and passing out. (Coaches don’t like jumping in the pool to pick you off the bottom!)
Have fun with your new habits and, always remember, don’t increase your workouts by more than 10 percent a week.
All columns are at http://www.ruidosofreepress.com/pages/sports_area. For more information on Duhigg’s research, check out http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/magazine/shopping-habits.html?pagewanted=all and http://www.npr.org/2012/03/05/147192599/habits-how-they-form-and-how-to-break-them.
Sarah Crewe is a USAT (USA Triathlon) Level 1 coach who coaches triathletes and is a certified RPM, yoga and American Swim Coach Association Level 2 coach. She is lead faculty for health and physical education at ENMU. To contact Sarah Crewe for training or learn more about the Ruidoso Sprint Triathlon, call the Ruidoso Athletic Club at 257-4900.
If you have any training questions for Sarah Crewe, email them to email@example.com.
Always contact your doctor before beginning physical training and it is advisable to have a personal coach.