With one last weekend of long workouts behind me, I have nothing but thanks to my body for allowing me to successfully train for my 11th Ironman.
It's a really neat feeling to know that my body is fit but also that it has a level of fitness that it has never had before. I'm excited to do something amazing with it on race day at Ironman Austria.
In the past 10 years, I've started every Ironman that I have registered for and on June 26th, I plan to cross my 11th 140.6 mile finish line - at my favorite race venue, in Klagenfurt, Austria.
Talk about a true race-cation!
Looking back at my very first Ironman (IMFL in 2006), I was excited for the new adventure that awaited my body and mind.
Me and my "boyfriend" Karel - we had been dating for 6 months. Cat 1 cyclist who thought this Ironman thing was crazy!
It was a day of all firsts and I was nervously excited to do something that I had never done before - my first longest open water swim, my first longest bike, my first marathon after swimming 1.2 miles and biking 112 miles and my first time racing for anything longer than 5.5 hours.
I was very respectful of the distance and my body and I just loved every minute of race day as I was 24 years old and doing something insane with my body.
However, after that race, I found myself getting a little greedy with my body.
Rather than staying grateful for the opportunity to train and race for this extreme multisport event, I found myself taking my good health for granted. I always felt like I could do more and I constantly tried to do more.
Like many athletes, I became greedy with my fitness and I became overly focused on getting faster and going longer.
While there is nothing wrong with wanting to be faster or going longer, it's the narrow lens that many athletes (including myself at one time) tend to look through which only focuses on metrics, miles achieved and the race day final outcome (finishing time).
From 2006 until May 2012, I raced 5 Ironman triathlons (including 2 Ironman World Championships) But from September 2007-early May 2012, I found myself chronically injured and always feeling like I was rehabbing myself to simply get to the Ironman start line instead of just enjoying the journey of training for the Ironman.
Although I was able to race ok throughout those years, now looking back, I know that I wasn't taking a smart approach with my training - I was too greedy with my fitness.
Since May 2012, I have remained injury free.
Sure, I still want to get faster and perform amazingly well on race day because I believe that my body is built to "race" the Ironman distance, I never want to compromise my good health just for a one day athletic performance.
Ironically, with this smarter approach, I have finished 5 Ironman triathlons, have made huge improvements in my overall times and paces and have qualified for the Ironman World Championships twice.
My ability to get stronger, faster and more resilient happened not because I trained more or trained harder (actually, it was the opposite!) but because I stopped being so greedy with my body.
But guess what - if you stay healthy, there’s a good chance that you will excel on race day. Why? Because you will be able to do something amazing with the body that you were able to consistently train throughout your training plan.
Be mindful that if you get greedy with your body image and fitness or try to push through an injury, extreme fatigue or pain in training just to check off a workout for validation that you are "ready", you are constantly living on the borderline of what your body can physically handle.
Be respectful of your body at all times when you train for an endurance event (or any event for that matter).
Remember that you are participating in your sport because it makes you happy and because it makes you a better human being.
Ultimately, your sport improves your well-being and quality of life.
Sadly, we live in a society that obsesses over leanness and speed, at any and all costs and rewards athletes who are tougher than tough and leaner than lean.
If you are always trying to push harder than you should, ignoring signs that you could be injured or eating as little as possible, just enough to get through your workouts, you are putting more stress on your body that it can tolerate.
Take it from me - stop being so greedy with your body.
When's the last time you thanked your body for what it allows you to do in training and in life?