I’ll tell you one of the coolest things about training (and, it’s not all that extra food you get to eat).
It’s that point that I know all of you have reached. The point at which you have been training your ass off and all of a sudden you notice you are getting stronger.
And, I don’t mean just physically stronger, although that’s part of it. Strengthening your mental fortitude is HUGE. I know you know what I mean.
For example, you start training for your first marathon and the first time you run 10 or 12 miles you are completely blown away that you have run that far. All day after the run you keep congratulating yourself. You are in awe of yourself. Who knew you could do it? Then training progresses and pretty soon over the next few months you are running 14, 16, 18, then 20 miles. 10 miles seems measly in comparison. Even easy. Your mind has adjusted to putting in more miles and your body has followed.
Case in point. This weekend I went out to do a 4 hour ride, which turned out to be 71 miles. I wanted to ride the Harvest Moon 70.3 course since I’ll be racing it this weekend.
In case that elevation profile looks like a big bitch to you, well, it was. Endless hills. Wind. Heat. Suffering. I really don’t think it’s necessary for races to be this hard. Good news in all that crap was I discovered what my secret weapon is on the bike (I didn’t used to like these, now I do. Go figure):
I put about 400-600 calories of these babies in a Ziploc baggie and munch a few every 10-15 minutes. Wash it all down with some Powerbar Perform and I am golden (or at least able to stay upright on the bike).
By the way, my bike is the BOMB. I never knew what a difference a tri bike could make in my cycling speed and comfort. Plus it looks cool.
I had to tack on another 15 miles to get to four hours or riding. Then I drove home and went to the pool to swim 4,000 yards (the Ironman distance and the furthest I’ve ever swam!). Next morning at 6:00 a.m. I am out for a 14.5 mile run. Then I keeled over and died. All of this on the heels of a mid-volume training week.
The whole point of me telling you all this is that there was a time when I am sure I could not have done all of that in two days. Perhaps physically I could have pulled it off, but my brain would have been psyching me out the whole time and I would have been bitchy and grumpy and every other character from the Seven Dwarves:
My approach to not falling apart was OTAAT.
One Thing At A Time
Thing #1: Get on your bike and ride until the first turn. Take in some chews and liquid. Repeat. Press on. Don’t think about all the miles ahead. Stay in this mile. Don’t think about going home and swimming 2.4 miles.
Thing #2: Get home and have some lunch. Change clothes. Go to the pool. Swim 1,000 yards. Do it again. And, again. And. again.
Thing #3: Watch “Walking Dead”, have some wine and a huge dinner. Sleep.
Thing #4 Get up. Don’t think about how heavy your legs feel. Hydrate. Eat. Settle in. One mile at a time.
Which Dwarf are you these days? I can be a combo of sweaty, bitchy and sleepy. And hungry. Oh, hell I’m all of them.
What’s something you’ve accomplished you did not think possible? I still view my first marathon in 2009 as something I never, ever thought I could do. It was the first time I realized what it meant to push myself and not give up. It made me think I could do anything.