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’ve posted about the importance of having a training plan, but how strictly should you stick to it? Is it an all-or-nothing sort of thing? If you miss that one 50 mile weekend ride (guilty) are you going to look back during your 112 miles on race day and pinpoint that moment in time where it all went wrong? Or, is being flexible with yourself just as important as being dedicated to your training?
I’m an all-or-nothing type of girl. If I decide to be on a strict diet, then the tiniest nibble of chocolate on a Wednesday evening will send the rest of my week spiraling out of control because, well, I already blew it, right? If I sleep through my alarm and miss a morning training session, the guilt looms over my head until I somehow find a way to make it up. The experience of training for this race has brought these things I already knew about myself to full fruition and, while that may sound like a bad thing, it has actually opened my eyes to a lot. This process has forced me to re-evaluate my outlook and high expectations of myself – and to not be so damn up tight.
I just got home from a weekend up in the gorgeous Colorado mountains watching a good friend complete the Leadville Trail Marathon, including 26.2 miles of what looked like horrifying trail running with a 13,000+ foot elevation gain (no big deal). When I decided to make the trip, I promised myself I would still get my weekend training in. I’d wake up at 4 a.m. to go for a long run before hitting the road on Saturday and would leave early enough on Sunday to squeeze in a 50 mile ride before the sun went down. Not a day would be missed.
While I was watching all the runners though, I thought back to a conversation I recently had with that friend about our completely opposite training mentalities. I’m a by-the-books type of person and need to know that I’ve done everything I can to get me to my end goal. I want to look back and be able to say “yeah, I got all those training rides in. I’m ready to dominate.” My friend, on the other hand, takes more of a go-with-the-flow approach. While he has a plan, he doesn’t turn his nose up to a shot of whiskey and the world doesn’t come to an end if he goes for a hike one day instead of hitting the ground for a long run. And guess what. He finished the marathon.
While I’m ecstatic with my success thus far and am certainly seeing all of my hard work pay off, I’m beginning to realize the need to be more flexible and understanding with myself. Obviously, completing an Ironman isn’t a simple feat and it takes outstanding dedication. Equally as important though, it takes rest and a little slack on yourself here and there. After all, you’re not going to get very far by stressing about ever minor detail and not letting yourself live a little outside of training. My first step this weekend was deciding that I’d take my time up in the mountains, throw a few beers back and just enjoy the weekend. I had a great week of training and missing a single bike ride didn’t erase that. I’m back in Denver now, recharged with two scoops of ice cream in my belly and ready to kick ass this week. Oh, and did I mention we’re officially halfway through training?
-Live Every Day-