Oh no

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.”

Oh yeah

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;

  1. Oh yeah!
  2. Oh no!
  3. 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!”

Less than two months away

#IMWI Is less than two months away! 52 days to be exact, but it is not as if I am counting or anything. For some odd reason, there was something monumental about reaching the two month countdown for me and I am not entirely sure why. I speculate it is because for me, a normal marathon training period will take roughly four months – and I just completed four months of Ironman training. My satisfaction may also come from knowing that I only have eight weeks of training left, two or three of which will be spent in the ‘taper period.’ Making my remaining training time even less. Six or seven more weeks of training seems doable when I look back and recognize I just completed 16 weeks. For whatever reason, the prospect of having less than eight weeks until the race has been a very welcomed thought.

Over the past week I took a bit of time off from training. While enjoying a road trip to visit family and friends, two workouts a day would have been highly difficult to accomplish. Therefore, before the 10-day trip began, I set the goal of getting in eight workouts during the ten day period. (A bit less than the 18-21 workouts I would normally try to get in during a 10-day stretch) Having the physical break gave my body a chance to recover and regroup after a grueling four month stretch of training. The break was also beneficial mentally as I had a number of workouts in which I wasn’t focusing on gaining, but simply maintaining. The physical and mental break has proven very beneficial as I gear up for the final push toward race day…which is less than two months away…

Ironman thoughts

When I began my training part of me thought I would instantly be flooded with all of these earth-shattering thoughts. While the time training has certainly given me ample opportunity to let my mind wander and process through a variety of topics, I haven’t had as many conclusions as I anticipated. That said, there are a few things I feel like I can definitively conclude at this point in my training…

#1. There are days where I love to train.

There is never any rhyme nor reason as to when these days will come, but there are certainly days where I wake up eager to train, excited to work out and ready to push myself. On these days I rarely question why I signed up, but am full of enthusiasm and energy. I envision myself crossing the finish line with a smile on my face, well ahead of my desired goal. I love these days.

#2. There are days where training is the last thing I want to do.

As was the case with #1, I am yet to discover the exact formula that causes these days. On these days I have very little desire to train. Whatever the workout, I struggle through it. The most common phrase running through my mind is, “Why did you think this would be a good idea?” I envision myself getting to the finish line with nothing but pain, agony and disappointment on my face as the clock reads hours past my goal time.

#3. There is a lot of training.

I have trained for and completed 15 marathons…this is a different beast. While training for a marathon one of my favorite feelings was to finish my long run on Sunday morning knowing the week’s work was done and the rest of the afternoon was all about relaxing and recovering. A few Sundays ago I woke up early and got my long run in before going to church. Without realizing it, my mind fell back into marathon training mode and I thought the day’s workouts were done. Then, at a random point in the service (and yes, I was paying attention…I have no idea why my mind began to wander) I had the sudden realization, “I still have to get a bike ride in later today.” With under three months to go, I am getting in two workouts a day, at least five times a week, with each one taking between 90-120 minutes.

Some days I love it, some days it is a chore. But overall, I am loving it and have no regrets about attempting to tackle an Ironman.