Every time I go through a training regimen and gear up for a race I like to do two things; pick a song that will be deemed my training ‘theme song’ and, pick a mantra that I write on my shoes.
The song idea came from the second marathon I trained for. Without thinking about it beforehand I always made sure to listen to the same song as I started a run. In my mind it helped me remember that I was training and served as a reminder that each run was more than an individual run, but it was a part of a bigger goal. Also, as lame as it may sound it simply put me in a good mood as I ensured I liked the first song I was listening to. When your first half mile is good, it sets you up for a better run altogether.
Writing a mantra on the shoe was a fun way to remind myself of what my goal was, or what I could turn to for motivation during the race if I needed a little extra push. It also turned into a practical way to monitor what shoes I wore during certain races – and if I had too many mantras on one shoe, it signaled it was probably time to get new shoes!
Way back in May I decided that my theme song for Ironman training would be: “I’ll make a man out of you” – the main song from the movie Mulan. As I described here, the lyrics seem to fit really well, even the words about swimming! The song definitely puts me in a good mood when I hear it, because I often think back to my years in Germany when the guys would sing that song over and over again. Hearing the song brings back memories of Sang-Jin, Army, Johann and Sunshine, to name a few of the Sonne guys who blessed the dorm with that song.
The mantra I have written on my shoes for the Ironman is: Be a man. It obviously coordinates very well with the song and will remind me of that while running. Additionally, my school this year has adopted the theme of; BE. We are encouraging our students to think more about what they want to be, and hoping that we can enable them to BE individuals who identify with, represent, and live out what it means to BE in a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ. Throughout all my workouts my mind is constantly going in different directions and I have often thought of lesson plans and/or speeches I will give in our Chapel services. Through my training, it has given me time to contemplate what it means to be a man of God to the students I interact with daily.
And, at the end of the day on Sunday September 11, 2016, I am hoping that I can cross the finish line not only knowing that this journey has helped me to; Be a man, but it has also led me to; Be an Ironman.
Last week was a bit rough in terms of training. As planned, the mileage and intensity dropped. But, for some reason as my body recovers from the months of training it has a habit of feeling a little more sluggish in the final tune-up to the race. While I trust my training and am confident in what I can do on the race course, last week was filled with thoughts of “oh no.”
However, this morning I finished a calm and easy 7 miles. My splits were fairly sporadic – though I know my mind was thinking about next week and I would get lost in a daydream and then realized I was going a bit faster than anticipated. I guess it is better to be going faster than expected rather than slower! Then I would slow down for the next mile only to get caught in another day dream and unintentionally pick the pace up again.
Yesterday I printed off a couple different packings lists to ensure I have absolutely everything I need. Once I finish doing the laundry today, I will pack my bags to ensure over the next few days I can double and triple check to ensure I have everything. I will go for a light swim on Monday, and then take Tuesday-Thursday off. Once in Madison on Friday I will get swim in the actual lake, and probably go for a quick jog just to break a sweat and release some nervous energy. I can count on one hand the number of workouts that stand between me and the Ironman!
Mentally and emotionally my theme for the week is; oh yeah! After 23 weeks of training, I am a week away from the race. When I finished my run this morning, I looked at the clock and said, “One week from right now I should be about 800 meters into the swim.” One. Week. Am I nervous? Am I excited? Am I anxious? Am I ready? Oh yeah.
Last week the theme during my taper was “Oh yeah” as I enjoyed an extra day of rest and my body had a chance to recover from the grueling training I have been going through. This week starts the second week of tapering. As my body slowly begins to recover, I find it all too common for my mind to begin to wonder whether or not the training I have done will be sufficient. With the race so close there truthfully isn’t any more time for me to make any more advances in my fitness. Where I am now fitness wise, is where I will be when I get to the start line.
This past weekend I went out on what was to be an easy and relaxing 6 mile run. For whatever reason, the run was anything but easy. It wasn’t very relaxing. In fact, I think it was one of the worst runs I have had in quite a while. My pace bounced all over the place as did my breathing. I never felt like I got into any kind of rhythm. My nutrition and hydration techniques didn’t seem to be fueling me in any way. At one point during my run I decided to step into some shade, catch my breath, and try to refocus. As I did I couldn’t help but having the thought, “Oh man. If I am struggling to get through this 6 mile run, how in the world am I going to do 26?” I felt as though I was working far too hard to push through one mile at my desired race pace, when I was hit with the not-so encouraging thought of, “yeah, now try doing 25 more!”
Did I train enough? Did I train smart enough? What if I don’t finish in the required times? What if I don’t finish at all? Is it possible that six months of training could be for nothing if I am unable to finish?
This week my workouts take another drastic decrease. Last week the decrease was in time, but the effort stayed the same. This week, both effort and time will drop – leaving me with more down time. It seems as though in those quieter moments the feelings of ‘oh yeah’ are replaced by thoughts of ‘oh no.”
Whenever I am training there are two words that I look forward to being able to state; taper time. After 21 straight weeks of training I have gotten to the final three weeks of training where I have begun to taper as I continue my aim to complete Ironman Wisconsin on September 11. Over the next three weeks I want to post about three statements that I think accurately reflect the thoughts that flood the mind while tapering;
- Oh yeah!
- Oh no!
- Oh baby!
Throughout the past 21 weeks there have only been two weeks where I took more than one rest day a week (both were due to traveling). So, for the past 19 out of 21 weeks I have trained for at least 6 days a week, most days including more than one workout. Within the past 4-6 weeks my weekly workouts have taken between 17-19 hours per week. For the majority of my training I have had to wake up before 5:00am at least twice a week in order to get in both of my workouts. I cannot remember the last time I slept in past 6:00 on the weekend. My body is tired. My body is sore. My body is excited for a little more rest.
The past three weeks my weekly time commitment to workouts has been; 19 hours, 17 hours and 19 hours. This coming week I will take two rest days and look to log 15-16 hours of working out. While it may not initially seem like a major drop, it is equivalent to; three mid-week runs, or two bike rides, or three sessions in the pool. Add in one extra rest day and take away some of the training, and my body is screaming, “oh yeah!” as I let my body rest and recover from the grind it has been put through over the previous 21 weeks.
On Sunday I finished my long run and immediately came home to hop on the bike. As my watch counted down the final seconds of my workout, I put my hands in the air and started doing a few fist pumps into the air. When the watch read all zeroes, my workout was complete and I exclaimed “Oh yeah! It’s taper time!”