I talked to my good friend and former BRB (best running buddy- she is now into ProFit classes). She is one of my favorite peeps to discuss life with. This conversation occurred on Monday. I hadn't fully hit "the wall" but I had just got done with a swim that was mentally frustrating and I was embarrassed and disappointed that I didn't "do the time"-yards- I needed to. I shared with her my anxiety, doubts, disappointment in my current lack of drive and follow through with my training. She always seems to know how to be honest in a nice way.
She posed a few questions:
"What if you took next year off and didn't sign up for anything?"
I responded somewhat saying the following... "I've thought about doing that, but never officially held myself to it. I think I'm use to have a training schedule and think if I don't have something to train for I won't put in the time and do the workouts. Basically I'm worried I'll get lazy. I like food and drinks too much to get lazy plus I really do like being active and know it is great "free therapy" for me mentally."
"What if you just trained for sprint tris or smaller races and not long distance races?"
I again responded in agreement, but also deep down I like the challenge, and better yet I like accomplishing the challenge.
I told her I was really worried I'd come to regret my current mood and the impact it may have on my race day. To paraphrase her, because I have horrible memory and didn't write her wise words down, "will you ever feel satisfied that you did all you could in training for a race, you are really hard on yourself and your toughest critic". She was absolutely right and this talk reminded me of Dimity McDowell's article and how honest it was about training but she also looked at the "why" we do these races.
Tuesday I hit "the wall" and so that night I sat down and re-read her article from the April 2014 Runner's World. I had torn it out to put in my "training" binder I keep. Within two paragraphs into article I remembered why I could connect with this writer. Dimity wrote...
"I can't run. I can't swim. I'm tired. I'm angry. I'm hungry all the time, but nothing sounds good. And I have no patience for anything or anybody especially my kids."
Yep been there and felt that throughout marathon training and now training for 70.3 tri. What was my issue- why had I chosen this? Dimity answers this when she writes
"Could I do that? Could I stop settling for mostly comfortable and truly push myself?" This in response to training for her ironman race.
"Going big isn't really about the distance. It's about taking on something that isn't necessarily a gimme".
I think you could also trade the "distance" for "race" and end with "It's about taking on training". At least that is what I continue to experience throughout various training/race experiences.
Carrie Cheadel, MA and mental-skills coach in the article had a great quote "You really have to focus on and work for an epic race. It takes everything in you to accomplish tough goal and when you do that, it feels incredible". I'm definitely hooked by that "incredibility" factor. Even when finishing my first marathon I crossed the finish line feeling euphoric/accomplished/exceptional and I liked that feeling and so know that is another draw to "epic races" or "going long".
I wonder how many other racers felt Dimity was writing about them when writing
"I wanted to feel the crazy-wow highs (and survive the despondent lows) that come with going way outside my comfort zone and the exponentially amplified confidence and satisfaction that grow from hanging out there."
Should I have gotten a coach? I don't think so but as noted in this article "it's easy to overestimate what you're going to be capable of doing physically and schedule-wise. A coach keeps you on track."
Maybe, but honestly I don't know that I would have trained much harder, longer, faster, but it is one of the variables I do sometimes ponder. I didn't have a coach with any previous training schedules, but I did have a training schedule some expert developed that led my training schedule (Hal Higdon historically for all my marathons and 1/2 marathons, except the one I followed by the "another mother runner own it plan", and now the Super Simple 70.3 training plan by Matt Fitzgerald). However, with almost all these plans/schedules I revised them. Were these revisions to the plan variables against my participation on race day? Cheadle again had another great line that ensured I wasn't the only weirdo out there "I like to remind my athletes that the doubt is part of what they signed up for." So these doubts of mine are normal- not that I am :).
Again Dimity finishes the article with a post race "Now what?"...
"Now that I know I can do it, there's always something bigger... Going big can turn into a chase-your-tail game that threatens to diminish the rewards of committing to and training for an epic- or really any- race."
This will be something I need to remember after the race and stop and don't go right to "now what?". Somehow, I think I will take a little break after this, but knowing me it won't be long because I'll miss the routine, the workouts, the discussion with friends about current training woe's and accomplishments. If anything my rest day yesterday did reinvigorate me, because as I get ready to walk out the door to ride 56 miles and run 2 miles I'm not scared/ I'm not dreading it/ I'm just ready!
Thanks Dimity for this great article. I have a feeling I will continue to re-read this over the years.