Thursday, August 13, 2015

I tell myself I can quit

It's less than a year until the Olympic Games in Rio 2016. A lot has happened in the last year since I last blogged. I will get to that later... but I was drawn back to blogging after I was asked a question by one of my former teammates. Laura Suchoski, who I grew up playing hockey with at some of the highest levels, posed a question that stated:

You're working out. Doing sprints. Hardest you've pushed yourself all month. You're ready to quit. But know you could keep going. What would you say to yourself to keep going and push yourself? "I got this", "Can't stop, won't stop." 

I love this question! Especially since I am doing a lot of running and training on my own as we have a little down time after our crazy summer. (Don't worry, I'll recap the summer for you in a later post!) Anyways, my response to Laura was:

I think about why I am doing it. I tell myself I have to push myself harder if I want to be the best. I try to focus on winning each rep, just one more, just one more. You'd be surprised how many more your body can actually do!!!


Obviously, I am training at the highest level. I am training for the Olympics, and not only that, but I am training to win a Gold Medal. That is my ultimately goal. Whenever I am running, by myself or with the team, I have to remember why I put myself through the pain. There is a bigger end goal. That is just my initial thought that gets me off the line. Once I am off and running, I must then be in the moment. I have to get through one rep at a time. And of course, as competitive as I am, I want to win each rep. "Winning" can often be a game for myself though. Some days are harder than others, you just feel better or you feel worse. I tell myself that if I did the best I absolutely could on that day, then I did all I could and I will be better for it. So, I have to beat my time from last time, or the previous sprint. I make it a competition with myself. This is especially important when I am running on my own, without a teammate next to me, challenging me, pushing me, and also motivating me through it.

There is also something else I tell myself which may surprise you. When the workout is really hard one day (it happens a lot honestly! haha) I tell myself that if I push as hard as I can to make the next rep, I can quit and be done for the day. Yup, I tell myself I can "quit" and "cheat". In reality, I never actually quit. It is my way of pushing as hard through one rep and not having to think (or know) that there is anything else afterwards. I continue to use this strategy of thinking for the rest of the workout. And even though I pushed myself to the limit on the first one (that I wanted to quit on), my body and mind find a way to finish all of the reps.

It is truly amazing what your body can endure. It is probably more amazing how much your mind plays a factor in the outcome, as well.

The other biggest factor for me, which is the same for a lot of people, is getting the motivation to go do my workouts. Yes, even an Olympic athlete struggles with that. I know my workout is going to be hard and I have to mentally prepare to hit it hard and get everything I can out of each session. I find that forcing myself to go to the gym or to the field... just driving myself there and stepping out of the car is the best solution. Once you are there, you aren't going to back out... so just get up and GO! Don't put it off! Also, it is much easier to do your workouts in the morning and get them done for the day. Not only will you feel more accomplished, your body will get a rush of natural endorphin which will actually give you more energy and motivation to be productive the rest of your day!
Does anyone else have any good ways they motivate themselves when they are on the brink of quitting? Leave me comments and let me know!!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Monday Motivation

Mondays can be hard to get motivated. The weekend of freedom is over and it is the start to a new work week. In other words, it is back to the daily grind!

Today's motivation is the Monday Life!
This organization raises money for Children's hospitals. Their mission is to bring the best healing environments to every hospitalized child on the planet.
Some common ways they get involved are pet therapy, music therapy, massage therapy, art therapy, technology, art, light, and color! They really strive to enhance the hospital atmosphere for these children, making every day, even the hard ones, a bit more enjoyable.

We can totally take lessons from their cause. Not only to make the most of what we have, finding the good things in every hard day, but enjoying the ride we call life. More importantly, we can feel great by giving back to a good cause, and knowing that we have helped a child's life be that much better!


The Monday Life recently quoted this on their twitter:
"The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away."

I find this statement very powerful and motivating. No matter what today brings, you have a gift that you can share with others. Find your purpose in each day! I find the more you give to others, the more you actually receive in the end. Embrace your gift, then give it away!


To learn more about the Monday Life and how to get involved:
Check them out online: http://www.themondaylife.org/
And on twitter: @themondaylife
Something as small as $1 every Monday can make a huge difference!

The Monday Life

FOOD FRIDAY- Baked Oatmeal

Here is the first of many food posts! I love trying new things in the kitchen and fueling my body right! I have posted a few of my creations in the past, so I wanted to share my newest one, along with the recipe!

A lot of the times, I get into a routine in the morning for breakfast, and I constantly make the same thing. I must say that I tend to find what works, and stick with that. I tried making baked oatmeal a few weeks ago, and I am a big fan! So now I just make a batch for the week and eat it along with my Ezekiel bread and eggs for breakfast!

What is your favorite breakfast fuel? How much do you mix it up? Or do you just keep it the same?

Baked Oatmeal
Prep time: 10 min.    Cook time: 40 min.     Total time: 50 min.
Ingredients:
3 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup of milk (I use unsweetened Almond Milk)
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup honey (optional)
1 whole green apple chopped into small pieces
1/2 banana chopped into small pieces
(you can choose to add whatever fruit you want!)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 8x8 baking dish.
2. Mix oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in bowl. Beat in milk, butter, maple syrup, eggs, vanilla extract, and honey. Then add in fruit.
3. Bake in over for 40 minutes.
4. Eat and enjoy!




Let me know if you try this, or add any variations!! Send pictures and reviews, as well!

The dream lives on....

My last post was before the World Cup, and a lot has happened since then!!

A huge thank you to everyone who followed and supported us during one of the most exciting tournaments I have played in to date!! USA Field Hockey definitely made some waves in the field hockey community and it is only just the beginning. We are very proud of our overall performance, but we know it is just the start of something greater to come!! (We won our pool of 6 undefeated, putting us into the Semifinals vs. Australia, but fell in penalty shoot-out, and lost 2-1 to Argentina in the 3/4 game). It took a little time away before understanding just how great a 4th place finish really was in the grand scheme of things. We went into the World Cup ranked 10th, and after a disappointing finish at our last major tournament (the Olympics), this is was a huge step for our program. It was difficult to make the semifinals and not come home with a medal of any color, but I know it is just going to give our team more motivation going forward. It really is only the beginning for us! I hope you keep following us and supporting us; it should be a fun ride!

We are back training in Lancaster, PA after a bit of time off to recover from a very strenuous build up to the World Cup. It was nice to have a break and finally get some quality time with my family, friends, and my dog! :)

Now that we are back in training, we are focusing on continuing to push the tempo of the game and our consistency at the top level. Our next competition is in New Zealand in October, and we are excited to get back into games, with a few new players and a few others in new positions. Also, it will be interesting to see how the game changes with the replacement of two 35 minute halves to four 15 minute quarters. I think the tempo will be much higher with the added breaks, as well as the reduction of total time in the game. It should be fun and exciting! Our sport is one of the few where rules are in constant change. Field hockey is constantly adapting and evolving, and it is fun to be a part of a team who looks to define the game going forward.


I also wanted to give everyone a heads up that I have new blog topics coming! Blogs will be much more frequent and should be a lot of fun! Not just updates on what we are doing, but some on my favorite foods/recipes, as well as some skill videos and motivational topics!!! Follow, comment, and give suggestions!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Sponsors help make the dream work! :)

I couldn't head to World Cup without first thanking my sponsors!!! They help make the dream work! These companies and all the people involved have really invested in me as a person and as an athlete, and I can't tell you how much they have helped me be at my best!

First and foremost, I must thank DITA! They have been with me from the beginning. What great honor that I get to play with this amazing Dutch brand, in the Netherlands!! From Dita America to Dita Netherlands, thank you for all of the support over the years. Thank you for believing in me and providing me the equipment I need to succeed and excel!
To find out more about Dita America, visit their website: www.fieldhockey.net
To find out more about Dita International, visit: www.dita-hockey.com
And to check out my very own MK18 stick, go here: http://www.fieldhockey.net/examkmika.html
Follow on Twitter: @DITAfieldhockey and @DitahockeyNL











Next, I have to give a huge thanks to SO Field Hockey! Although they are based in the UK, they have given me nothing but the best support! They have amazing chamois grips, in every color you can think of! I love them! They are soft to the touch and work wonders in the rain. Thanks for your continued support! Wonder what bright color I will be sporting at the World Cup?? You'll just have to tune in to see!
For awesome, colorful chamois grips, check out: http://www.sofieldhockey.co.uk/
Follow on Twitter: @SOfieldHockey












Another one of my great sponsors is Project Hydrate! With the amount of hard training we've been putting in leading up to this World Cup, PH has been one of the most important parts of my preparation and recovery. Their drinks definitely make a huge difference in my hydration and keeping me ready to go for each and every session. They have been so generous to not only me, but to my teammates. Thank you so much for all of your support! I love working with you all!
To stay hydrated like Team USA, check out PH here: http://www.projecthydrate.com/
Follow on Twitter: @Project_Hydrate













Finally, I can't forget my newest sponsor, NuGo Nutrition! They have come on board and given me great support in the last couple weeks. Their nutritional bars are high in protein, low in fat and sugar, gluten free, organic, vegan, high in fiber, and more! They really have everything I would need in regards to a high level athlete. Plus, they are delicious! Don't believe me? Go try some for yourself!!
Check out all of NuGo's nutritional bars: http://www.nugonutrition.com/
Follow on Twitter: @NuGoNutrition
 









Although they aren't a sponsor, I must also give a shout out to EnergyBits. I have been working with them as an ambassador for quite some time now, and they never cease to surprise and amaze me with just how supportive they are! EnergyBits are little bits of algae, a natural source of energy. I love putting things at are all natural and unprocessed in my body. EnergyBits give you that little extra, natural boost you can't find anywhere else! I recommend trying some today! They make you feel good on even the hardest workouts!
Check them out here: http://www.energybits.com/
And use my code, MKASOLD, to get 15% off!
Also, follow them on Twitter: @ENERGYbits










THANKS AGAIN to all of my SPONSORS!!! You help make me a better athlete, every day! Now, time to go take care of some business at the World Cup! :)

GO USA!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

THE WORLD CUP!!!!

Everyone knows the WORLD CUP is this summer! It is all over the news, all of the sports channels, in the papers..... but although I am super excited to watch the Soccer World Cup with the rest of the world.... the World Cup I am most excited about is not for soccer... it is Field Hockey!! And one that I will be competing in!! It is pretty unreal to write those words... I will be playing in the World Cup. Words can't describe all the emotions I feel. As hard as I have worked over my career and all the games I've played in add up to this. Yet, the biggest thing I constantly am reminded of every day is how truly blessed I am. Nothing is guaranteed in sport or in life and I know how very lucky I am to be in this position. God is good. [Jeremiah 17:7]

With that being said, I am not just satisfied with being a participate. No, I want to compete and win. With the first games of the World Cup just over a week away, I want to grab hold of this opportunity with my teammates and take the world by storm! I know just how hard every single person on Team USA has worked. From the players that will step on the field wearing red, white, and blue in the Netherlands, to those who just missed out on the final roster cheering us on at home. Every single person has played a vital role in putting us in the best possible position to succeed. I am confident in my teammates beside me and I am excited to see just how great we can be! As with any game, any sport, there will be ups and downs. The tournament won't go as planned. It is the World Cup and every team will be putting it all on the line. But for me, that's why I love it so much! That is why I play this sport. To compete against the best competition possible, for the thrill of victory, for overcoming obstacles, for pushing yourself further and harder than you ever thought you could go, and for all the bits and pieces in between. The journey to get here has been tough, and indeed, I have made some great sacrifices. But this is why they are all worth it.

So, with that being said, I don't know what the final outcome will be. No one does. But I know we will give it everything we have, and leave it all on the field. I know by doing that, we have a pretty good shot at doing some amazing things, even standing on the podium when it is all over. Thus, I hope you will follow us on our quest and cheer extra loud as we embark on a grand journey to greatness!

All of our games will be streamed on YouTube (@FIHockey) and on ESPN3!!!! Be sure to check on  usafieldhockey.com for the game schedule, and follow my adventures on here, facebook, twitter @mkasold18 and instagram @mkasold18 !!


With all this excitement building, I am constantly reminded every day how thankful I am. I am thankful for this opportunity to represent my country, playing a sport that I love. I am thankful to be healthy, fit, and having fun. But most of all, I am thankful for all the support I receive which allows me to strive for my dreams. I've had to sacrifice being away from my loved ones (family, boyfriend, and friends) for much of my career. No matter where field hockey has taken me, these special people have been my biggest fans, through the ups and downs. Most importantly, they have helped to push me day in and day out when I forget to look at the big picture. I truly would never have made it this far without them! So thank you, each and every one of you know who you are! You are all a part of my World Cup dream!

~give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus~ [1 Thessalonians 5:18]

LET'S GO USA!!!!!!!!!! :)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Champions!

WE WON CHAMPIONS CHALLENGE!!!!

What a great accomplishment for our team! We have put in a lot of hard work, dedication, and grit to put ourselves in a good position to stand on top of that podium. After falling short in the last two Champions Challenge Finals, we weren't going to let that happen again. We fought through a lot of obstacles thrown in our way to come away with a gold.

The quarterfinal against India was a tough match. We have always had close matches with India in the past, and I think that is partially the way we match up with each other tactically and technically. We had a lot of the possession throughout the game, but it took til late in the second half to final find the back of the goal. In a must win game, that can be nerve-wracking. We stuck to our game plan and trusted our skill, resulting in a 1-0 win. After all the teams from our pool won the quarterfinal match ups, we knew exactly what to expect from there on out. We faced Spain in our semi-final game, and knew they had grown tremendously throughout the tournament and could not be taken lightly despite our 3-1 win in pool play. We came out with really high pressure and put Spain on their heels a bit in the first half. With a 3-0 lead at halftime, Spain had nothing to lose and definitely threw everything they had at us in the second half. We defended a fair bit, but weathered the storm, only conceding one goal to end the game with another 3-1 win over the Spanish. This set us up with an unexpected opponent of Ireland in the final. Although, we knew it was a possibility we could play them, they upset Korea (in the quarterfinal) and South Africa (in the semis) after finishing last in our pool. They definitely played with the Irish Spirit and left everything on the field. We knew if we didn't bring our A-game, we too were susceptible to being upset. We also knew exactly what to expect and we knew how badly we wanted that gold. After a fire alarm disrupted the playing of the anthems and delayed the start of the game, we knew it was going to be one of those days where you just had to be mentally strong, stay on task, and fight through all the bumps along the way. It was just that. Ireland came out hard and scored within minutes of the opening whistle. That was a hard way to start a final. But we stuck to what had made us successful the whole tournament: hard work, sticking to the game plan, and backing each other. And it worked. In the end, we got 3 goals back and won the game 3-1. I must give credit to the Irish though who didn't make it easy for us and who fought until the very last whistle. Amazing stuff from an underdog team who has grown tremendously since the last time we played them in international competition.

Anyways, we definitely enjoyed our moment in the spotlight celebrating a great team victory. By winning Champions Challenge, we automatically gain a spot into the 2016 Champions Trophy, which is absolutely massive for us. We haven't attended Champions Trophy in a long time (if ever?) and for me, this was the sweetest part about winning! Not to mention, it is good momentum going into the World Cup in just a few weeks!

But yes... we are back in America now, and already back to work. We have a lot we still need to improve on and adjust if we want to be successful at the World Cup. Just to give you an idea.... we won Champions Challenge on Sunday, flew back to America on Monday, then had lifting and conditioning on Tuesday. We hit the ground running! As our men's team says: No Days Off!

It has been quite a tough process physically and mentally preparing for the World Cup, but we are willing to put it all out there. We don't want to have any regrets. We want to put ourselves in the best position to win. Not just compete and say we participated, but we want to get results, or least know we did everything we could to be successful with the opportunities that are given to us. No matter where we finish, we know it is sports, where anything can happen. We can't predict outcomes based on how hard we work. Everyone knows you can dominate a game statistically (possession, shots, corners, etc.), but at the end of the day, you could still lose on the scoreboard. It is just a matter of being as prepared as possible for battle, then leaving everything you have on the field!

I hope you are as excited as I am about the World Cup! I hope you will be following me and my teammates as we try to make history and bring home some hardware to the USA!!!

Thanks again for everyone who supported us in Scotland, and who have supported us all along. We appreciate all the love and kind words, and hope that our efforts can inspire you to be great, as well!


Enjoy some pictures from our last few games/days in Scotland:


Back in the gym in the States:

And of course, I was so happy to be reunited with these two back in the States!!! :)