Remember that new beau I told you about a few months ago? We were flying high in the clouds and loving every second of our time together. It was pure bliss, a true honeymoon phase.
So, where are we now? Here’s an update on my life as I continue to date Ironman.
A patient said something the other day at work that really struck a chord with me. She was asking me about my training and my history with triathlons. She was very curious to learn what initially sparked my interest in the sport and how I got to where I am now, just four months out from completing my first Ironman. After chatting for a bit, she mentioned that she’d love to do “something like that” one day. Then, she immediately followed that thought with:
“but I’m not a runner. I can barely run one mile, it’s just not my sport.”
This past week of training was bursting at the seams with not-so-hidden lessons. The overarching theme? There’s always an excuse.
For the past 20 weeks I’ve been living my life dedicated to and in full acceptance of the following: If you’re going to train for an Ironman, you have to be strict with all aspects of your life. Be prepared to trade in your social life for new friends on the bike path, your evening beer or whiskey for a protein shake and lots of water and your late nights of trash T.V. for training books and sleep. Becoming an Ironman takes sacrifice. It takes dedication. And, it takes flexibility, understanding and a few scoops of ice cream on top.
I pride myself on being a pretty positive person. I make a point to see the good in people, the silver lining, the excitement rather than the fear. I’m also a real person…and a girl. I’m emotional and passionate. A dangerous combination. On most days, I wake up excited and with a plan to live. Maybe that sounds like an exaggeration, but if you know me, you know that as much as I love spontaneity, I also thrive on making some sort of game plan. So, what happens on those days when I wake up feeling like this?
Well, I’m still trying to figure that out.
If you talk to anyone who has completed an Ironman, they’ll tell you three things:
1. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.
2. It’s addicting.
3. It will take over your life.
Since I have yet to complete my first Ironman, I’ll refrain from speaking to the first two statements. All I will say is that simply committing to train for an Ironman is by far one of the best things I’ve ever done, and I can only imagine how I will feel once I cross that finish line. I can, however, speak to the third point. Training for an Ironman will take over your life.
For the past seven weeks, I’ve been eating, sleeping and breathing my training plan. I consult my training schedule and goals when deciding whether or not to go out drinking with friends, go on a trip, eat that candy bar, or stay up an extra couple of hours to watch The Bachelor. I get down when a training session doesn’t go well and I obsess about how I can make things better.
Basically, I’m dating the Ironman – and he is the neediest boyfriend I’ve ever had.
Do you know how to properly stretch? We’ve all done it. You’re getting ready to head out for a run or play a game of flag football with buddies and you start to do the typical torso rotation, twisting your hips a couple times, leaning over to touch your toes, arch that back and look up towards the sky, swing the arms back and forth a couple times. Okay. Good to go!
I apologize in advance for the randomness and fragmented nature of this post, but since registering for Ironman AZ back in November, that is exactly what has been happening in my mind. All day, every day, a continuation of fragmented thoughts ranging from “OMG I’m so PUMPED. Cecily Fuller YOU ARE (ALMOST) AN IRONMAN!” to “OMG I want to cry, where do I go next?”
The thought of Ironman is always there. That M-Dot symbol is there when you wake up in the morning; you chase it during each training session; it’s the seasoning on your breakfast, lunch and dinner; and it’s that bitter flavor you taste with each sip of an IPA. Friends of mine who have completed an Ironman of their own warned me that once you take the plunge and officially register, it’s all you will think about for the following year. The reality of this hits me as I sit here with a pile of anatomy flashcards to study and it’s all I can do not to break into the stack of Ironman/tri training books I just borrowed from a friend. The inner turmoil continues. So, instead, I will do neither and I will sit here and pour my feelings into my Ironman blog. I call this a happy medium.
Each week of training brings something new. A new PR, new approach, new ache, etc., etc. The past two weeks have been especially full of take-aways for my own personal growth in training and I think much of what I’ve learned/decided to set in place moving forward can be applied to anyone at the starting lines of their own training adventures. So, without further ado, here are my key headlines from the past two weeks:
Make a plan
Obvious, right? Of course it’s important to have a training plan set in place not only when going after a long-distance race like an Ironman, but even if you’re training for your first 5k, half-marathon or sprint tri. Regardless of experience level, we’re all starting somewhere. If your goal is to get off of the couch and complete your first 5k race, or you’re working your way up from sprint distance to Olympic distance triathlons, you have to have a plan for how you are going to get from point A to point B – and it can’t be something you just throw together day-to-day or week-to-week on a whim. Do your research. Map out each month. Set benchmarks. Set goals. And most importantly, establish your support system. We’re all going to have “down” weeks when we’re just not feeling into it and we need to be reminded why we’re doing all of this. Make sure you have someone to tell you “hey, you wanted to do this for a reason. Let’s get some ice cream, and then suck it up and push forward to your goal.”
When it comes to nutrition, you might ask yourself a lot of the same questions I’ve had lingering for a while: What should I eat before I train? What should I eat while I’m training? Should I use the same fuel routine I’d use for a 4-hour training session as I would for a 1-hour session? Etc., etc. To make things even more complicated, I’m a strong believer and follower of the paleo diet, making popular endurance athlete protocols such as the pre-race “carbo-load” out of the question. There seems to be so much information out there about training nutrition that I’ve been at a standstill in how to move forward and actually make it all work for me. Anyone else with me??