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Monday, September 12, 2011

Endurance - a different look pt.2

Wanna know a fabulous idea? 

White puppy + black marker = An anatomy lesson I'll probably retain.  Tess will "retain" it too!  Probably a lot longer than I would care to explain it....

I believe we were discussing how endurance this time around be ever more fabulous than my other restarts?

Now that we've gotten mental aspects and long term goals out of the way, now we can focus on the fun stuff!

"Why Melinda can look forward to the endurance 2012 season and beyond"

1.  Less multitasking, more focusing and living in the moment.

It is extraordinarily difficult NOT to multitask.  For so many years, that is *how* I got things accomplished.  I threw 3 or 4 plates in the air, kept half an eye on all of them, three quarters of an eye on another one, switching as needed between priorities.  I'm GOOD at multi-tasking, but....multi-tasking is not good for me.  I've noticed that I have a LOT more stress in my life the more multi-tasking I do.  Nothing gets done well, and I'm always vaguely anxious that the plates will come crashing down.  Multitasking is a useful skill - but so is the ability to focus.  I'm unable to focus for even 50 minutes on one thing - which became readily apparent as I started to sit through lectures.  It was impossible for me not to fiddle with emails, write posts, check my calendar, and glance at the clock.  If I don't focus in lecture, I end up having to spend LOADS of time learning it on my own, so the efficient thing is the FOCUS.  Unlearning unconcious multitasking is as hard as learning how to juggle all those plates in the first place. 

Of course this relates to endurance - I spent so much time multitasking in all aspects of endurance - including the day of the ride, I didn't enjoy it half as much I as should have.  Only on my last ride, which I thought every mile I rode might be my last, was I able to quiet myself and live in the moment.  If I have to ride LD's to achieve this "zen", then that's where I will stay until I can do it for 100 miles. 

2.  Less days per week of riding - pasture for Farley at all costs (or no endurance competitions)

The situation pre-school (did you notice?  There was life BEFORE vet school, and there's life IN vet school....) was less than ideal for an endurance horse - boarded in a paddock with no other turn out or exercise than what I personally gave her.  No hills, and a trailer ride every weekend.  I made it work and I learned a lot and I'm glad I did it....however, in the future I will either find pasture or I will not ask my horse to do 100 - or possibly even 50 - miles.  To decrease my chances of injury and pulls, riding less days per week is critical.  Unfortunately, without room for the horse to "self exercise", it's hard to get the horse fit enough, AND working "hard" 2-3 days a week....and letting them sit in a paddock the rest of the week is a recipe for DISASTER....

I also won't chose to compete more than one sport with a horse, if I'm trying to do something over LD's.  Dressage schooling will still have its place during the routine on a regular basis, however the number of riding days needed to prepare a dressage-competition-ready horse, show improvement in a weekly lesson, and condition for a 100 miler, requires too many hours on horse back.  Better to integrate an occasional lesson (1-2 month max), or ride a school horse than risk burning myself or my endurance horse out. 

Gotta run - this wasn't originally intended as a series, but in my commitment to focus with less multi-tasking, I just don't have big time blocks I can dedicate to writing posts.  Check back soon for pt.3!


  1. edge of seat, Mel. Waiting not-very-patiently for part three!

    p.s. here are some stupid tricks I use to stay focused, from me, the Queen of ADHD:

    1. before class begins, chew the hell out of a pencil. When your attention starts to wander, rub your thumb over the chewed parts. Changing sensation on thumb keeps the brain pointed forward. Weird, but it works.

    2. Take notes in haiku form. You only get 17 syllables, so you must tune in sharply. In your case, perhaps sketching can accompany poetry?

    3. Decaffinate. I know it sounds crazy, but your brain might work better if it's not jittering. Of course, that means you might have to SLEEP sometimes. Hmm. Let me know how this one works for you.

    4. Walk the dog in the evening BEFORE you sit down to study. On the walk, tell her everything you learned in school. If necessary, put your learning to music and sing it to her.

  2. Hm...In my experience, my ADD brain is really settled down by coffee.

    I admit to being unable to get anything done in class. The background rumble, people moving, keys clicking, screens flashing...zomg. Our lectures are recorded, so I do a LOT better in my little "quiet room" at home or at Tudors (oddly enough, I can focus there even if the place is full...perhaps it is because there are only 30 people instead of 220?).
    I like AareneX's ideas too.

    But the bottom line is that whatever you have to do to get through the material, by all that is holy, you have to do it. End of story.

    I *really* like the idea of a self care plan! Why didn't we get that??

  3. Except for the 1-2x a week I need a caffeine pill to make it safely home (I have a 1 hour and 10 minute commute), I've eliminated most of the caffiene. It makes me anxious and definitly affects my sleep patterns. The upside is that it works REALLY good if I need it!

    AareneX - The pencil trick is a GREAT idea. I can see how that would work. #4 is also proving to be true. I've been taking Tess to school and instead of distracting me, she keeps me focused. If I know, for example that I will go going out to the dog park on campus in 1 hour to play with her, I'm much more focused and productive in that hour than if she's not there. Plus there's that companion factor on the drive home AND the intemidation. She's *obviously* a cute fluffy puppy that loves EVERYONE - or so everyone tells me. But the other day she did NOT like someone crossing the cross walk in front of the truck and did some low "gruffs" and a growl that made me look at her - so maybe a zombie WOULD think twice before car jacking me - even if her little docked tail is a'waggin' away. Obviously she's a well socialized, friendly dog, but Mr. Zombie doesn't need to know that.

  4. @M - We spent TWO WEEKS on working in small groups, professionalism, self care, mental health, collaboration etc. It was a little frusterating because I really wanted to get into the MEDICINE, but I think it really helped. Everyone in my class is on the same page, and it really brought the class together - which I think is important as we are one of the larger vet classes in the country (137 people?) and it can be hard to get a large class working together as a cohesive whole.

    LOL - the keyboards typing in the class makes me think of the sound of rain.....I'm taking notes on my ipad (Ms. Polly) and for some reason, NOT having a keyboard and screen on front of me, and being in that very organic "writing" mode helps my focus tremendously. It's possible to multitask on Polly, but takes effort and being able to lean back with the tablet in hand and "pen" is really working for me.


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