Friday, December 21, 2007

the gut check (training notes 12-21-07)

you know the feeling. it happens to everyone. the time when you wake up one morning, and find yourself shuddering at the thought of the upcoming slate of workouts.

it's not that you're injured (although, at this point, you are very much hurting). it's not that you're overtraining (although, by now, you are definitely tired). it's not that you're sick (although, with Ironman, many would say you have to be some kind of sick to be doing this). in fact, there's really nothing wrong with you at all--at least, nothing enough to stop you from doing the workouts you should (and need...if you want to avoid having a really bad, really painful race day) to be doing.

the only thing there is, in truth, if there is any word to describe it, is dread.

or possibly distaste. or maybe fear. or even revulsion.

whatever. all you know is that it's not pleasant.

it's made even worse by the fact that somehow, inexplicably, perhaps stupidly, you made a very fateful decision to sign up for an early spring Ironman...meaning that you've signed up to be training all winter, and training hard, when everyone else with any semblance of sanity is enjoying the comforts of a nice long off-season, comfortably esconced in the warmth of their abodes, likely cuddling with a loved one with a very warm blanket and a very hot mug of hot chocolate, while you're out in the bitter winds and freezing cold getting blasted into the frozen hell that is the polar expeditions of each and every one of your workouts.


the only thing that pulls you out of bed, and into your running shoes, or bike, or wetsuit, and out the door to face the december and january weather by yourself is the very real knowledge that if you don't do this, you never will, and that this will ensure you pay a very heavy and very nasty and very unpleasant and very painful price on race day.

not that race day is ever pleasant, but there's a difference being paying the price that's listed versus the price with a full training period's dose of interest added on top of it. the less you have to pay, the better.

and so you tell yourself to suck it up. and you make promises to yourself that you'll just make it through this next workout, and then you'll take a break. or make it to just this next hill, and then stop and assess how you feel. or you'll go for just a few minutes, and then figure out if you want to go on.

but you always do. and somehow, you make it to the next hill, and then all the ones after that. and you not only finish the workout, but also all the ones you had scheduled. and the only time you stop is when you had planned on your schedule to stop.

and when you do finally stop, and take a break, you do so with the realization, reassurance, and memory that you completed the hard workouts. all of them. even though you didn't want to...and it has made you better for it.

sometimes, the real reason for the hard workouts--the long ones, intense ones, the ones piled up in the times that people in the know euphemistically call "build weeks" (as opposed to what they often are: sheer and utter hell)--isn't so much for conditioning the body, but rather the mind.

you have to push yourself through these workouts, not because you can (because, barring injury or overtraining or sickness, but this stage in the training you really can), but to know you can. you have to do them, to 1) learn how to push yourself to do something you know will cause supreme discomfort, and 2) gain an awareness that you can push yourself to do something that will cause supreme discomfort...things that will very much happen on race day.

you need the gut check. because you need to know how to deal with it, especially when you're at mile 127, and suddenly, horrifyingly get the yawning, overwhelming, supremely disheartening realization. that. you. still. have. another. 13. miles. to. go.

afterwards, you can thank your gods for rest. but until then, there's only you, by yourself, plumbing the depths of your fortitude to finish the race.


so this build week, as you can tell, i hit some milestones: 16-mile run (with follow-up runs), 4200 yd swim and 4400m swim (difference in units because i had to switch pools from one that used yards to another than used meters...i personally prefer meters), and simulated hill work on the bike (and heavy weights). tough workouts. swim-heavy. i feel like i earned the recovery week. i'm back end of december, and then another 2-week build phase heavy on bike and run, and then recovery again before the last 2-week build phase, heavy on bike and swim. after that, taper into race week.


1 comment:

M said...

This is dead-on. I am training for IM Arizona this winter in Chicago, and just wen through this same thing this past week. Thanks for writing it.