Two-time XTERRA World Champion, Lesley Paterson, knows a thing or two about grit. (After all, the first sport she ever played was rugby.) Over the past several years, she has battled Lyme disease, injuries, and stomach complications. Most recently, she competed in the 2017 XTERRA World Championship with a fractured pelvis. But no matter what is going on in her world, Paterson handles it with a smile, a wicked sense of humor, and zero complaints.
We recently caught up with Paterson to learn more about how to be a brave athlete, what to do if your season was less than optimal, and how to keep yourself from freaking out when that's all you want to do. Oh, yeah ... we also found the perfect gift for all the athletes on your list.
Q. So you finished the last race of the season. When do you start analyzing it to see where you went wrong and what you did right? When do you start thinking about next season?
A. I normally completely switch off after my last race and don't begin to analyze my season until a couple of weeks later, once the dust has settled. I generally sit down with my mentors and coaches and talk through the good, the bad, and the ugly. I actually don't start thinking about next season until the January 1st. I really like to be inspired by the races I enter, so it takes some time after I finish a season for the year before I can even contemplate what I want for the next year.
Q.What if you had a great season ... but then start to freak out that you can’t do it again? What if you think your success was just a fluke?
A. I think it's all about having a team around you that can lay out the facts of how you performed. Sometimes, writing the facts down and seeing it in front of you is more powerful than succumbing to the inner demons or the low self-confidence that is driving it. It's all about battling the chimp on your back!!
Q. What if you didn't have a great season and your confidence is sapped? How do you keep yourself from becoming a head case?
A. Read our book! Seriously though, understanding what is driving that feeling of "not good enough" is the best way to remedy the situation as well as how to define future success. It's important to have goals for mental success, physical success, technique success, and process-based success. That way, it's not just about outcome - it's about having many different forms of success.
Q. What does a break look like? Is it one to three weeks of doing nothing? Is it a month of doing activities like surfing and hiking?
A. For me, it's a couple of weeks of doing nothing and then it could be six to eight weeks of low volume, low intensity training. If you are really burned out then find other sports, races, and activities that inspire you. Find new groups to train with on different terrains. Basically, change your environment until you are inspired again.
Q. What are you getting everyone for the holidays this year?
A. Rather than discuss how to make and set goals so you can race like a champion, Simon and I have written about how to think like a champion. It's called, The Brave Athlete. Calm the F*ck Down and Rise to the Occasion.
We wanted to address the 13 common problems that hold athletes back. Goal setting is great but it doesn’t take care of the inward journey. You have to set your life up for success before you can race successfully. To that end, our book is a guide to creating the environment you need to achieve positive results.
You can purchase Dr. Simon Marshall and Lesley Paterson's book at www.braveheartcoach.com.