There are a few sets from my College and High School swimming days that still make me cringe when I think about them. There is one specific set from college that I will never forget as the set required complete focus and the right mentality in order to successful complete.
The set was 8 x 50's on no interval, however if you wanted to get out of practice in time for dinner you had around an hour to complete the set. Sounds simple until the coach reminds us that the set is "NO BREATH" from a start and you must complete 8 of them.
The funny thing about this set is if you think about it, swimming for 30ish seconds (my time back then for a 50 yard easy swim) while holding your breath shouldn't be that hard. However, it never failed that I would always end up taking a breath with no more than 5 strokes to the wall (around where the flags hang).
Why was it that I couldn't make it to the wall? Sure, my body was filling with lactic acid as I was holding my breath and keeping in all the CO2 that my body wanted to exhale but why did I feel the need to breath after 45 yards? Why not 25 yards or 40 yards?
This set taught me that we can overcome a lot if our mind is in the game. Certainly we don't want to risk our health (or life) just to "get the job done" but when it comes to athletics, so much of what we do is mental.
Today was one of those days.
This was my third day of my Kona training camp and the last two days have left me tired and a bit sore. Certainly no amount of nutrition is going to allow me to properly repair and recover until my training camp is officially complete (after tomorrow). I'm not hobbling around and there are no signs of injury as I am paying attention to keeping my body relaxed, stretched and fueled with quality nutrients.
BTW my dinner last night with my family left me super satisfied...
Veggie burger on flat bread w/ hummus, cabbot cheese and spinach
(my family and Karel had chicken)
Campy has been doing a great job of keeping me happy during my training camp. He makes for a great resting partner.
BTW - A big congrats to Karel for two great races this weekend!!!
This morning I headed to the hills of San Antonio Florida (Dade City) for a solo ride and solo run. I knew I wouldn't be alone as San Ann is the place to be if you ride or run but of course, it just wasn't the same without my best friend Jennifer and Karel. Today was all about me and the rolling hills (yes - there are actually hills in Florida!).
As I got myself ready for my bike I reminded myself of a great quote:
"The vision of a champion is someone who is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion when no one else is watching."
I love the push of training with others but it's important as athletes that we get in touch with our own body, to really listen to our body. I feel I have a great relationship with my body and I couldn't help but thank it today as it helped me travel all over San Antonion on my bike and with my running shoes. I also made sure to say hi to all the animals. No really, I do say hi to animals.
After a hilly 42 mile (2:20ish) ride in the hills which was designed to be "tempo" effort (steady) for the entire ride, I geared myself up for my run. The bike went great and I felt wonderful climbing the hills. I couldn't help but stay positive during my ride (despite my quads speaking to me in the first 10 miles) as I felt absolutely amazing considering what I have been doing to my body over the past 2 days..let alone the past 9 weeks.
Karel always reminds me that I need to save my best performance for race day. I completely agree and I know it is easy to get excited and want to do more volume or intensity but I must contain my excitement. For if all goes well, I should have a great race day. However, going into the Ironman World Championships (or any long distance race) requires that I am not overtrained or burnt out. Although I have learned a lot through the past few years of IM training and how to design a quality training plan, I have also learned from others in that you will ensure a better race day performance if you approach a long distance race feeling undertrained rather than overtrained. Of course, having a practical "race day pacing plan" is also important in order to be sure that you put your individual training to the test.
The great thing about my IM training (with less than 6 weeks to go) is that I still get excited when I train and I welcome every workout as something I "want" to do, not "have" to do. I suppose I should attribute much of that to welcoming recovery rest days to relax my body and mind...especially if I have a busy day of work at the hospital.
As I started my long run, my main goal was to just find a zone and stay there. No need to pay attention to pace but rather, just listen to my body, focus on good form and stay hydrated with liquid calories. I gladly welcomed overcast skies as it made for one of my best runs to date.
12.1 mile run
1:39 total time
8:17 min/mile pace
Mile 1: 8:08
Mile 2: 8:13
Mile 3: 8:20
Mile 4: 8:17
Mile 5: 8:16
Mile 6: 8:16
Mile 7: 8:18
Mile 8: 8:25 (tough hills and wind)
Mile 9: 8:23 (more hills and wind)
Mile 10: 8:10
Mile 11: 8:16
Mile 12: 8:29 (warm-down included)
I stopped to refuel my fuel belt flasks at mile 5.5 and mile 10.
Karel has a lot of great sayings when it comes to my training. I feel he is the perfect coach for me because not only does he know me, but he also recognizes my weakness's and ensures that I keep balance in my life. Sure, the past 3 days may seem a like a lot of volume but I believe the workouts are exactly working to my advantage. Karel has gotten me to this point with my fitness and the purpose of the training camp was not to completely exhaust me. He had no intentions on me doing 130 mile bike rides or 3 hour runs or even biking 100 miles (which I have yet to do with my training this year).
Karel believes that in order to progress as an athlete, you must continually put money in the bank. Sure, you will make withdrawals when you do a hard weekend of training or do a race but you want to make sure that you never put yourself in training debt. That is, put your body under so much training stress that physiological training adaptations are hard to reach and the only thing that receive is a tired body, burn out mind and fear that you will not properly recover for upcoming workouts.
As a coach and athlete, I give you this advice. Be patient with your fitness and respect the body. But more than anything, keep a positive attitude as you aim to achieve your realistic goals in your sport of choice.