The single digit countdown is almost here! This is an exciting time for everyone competing at IMLP this year. Although I’m not racing, I am all too familiar with being deep within the trenches of training. It’s about this time where things start to get real and a glimmer of light can been seen at the end of the tunnel. It’s also about this time when excitement and panic can equal in measure, especially for Ironman first timers and Kona hopefuls. Training sessions are big and getting bigger, so is your appetite and food bill. Although there are definite signs of increased strength and fitness, the months of compounded load have you wavering from invincible to inoperable. This is a very important time to listen closely to your body and mind. Tune in to what the truth of your fatigue is telling you as opposed to your ego which can easily push you into the overtraining category.
The first goal of every race is getting to the starting line healthy. The last thing you’ll thinking about on race day is the workouts you’ve missed. I’ve seen people push themselves past exhaustion and into an unrecoverable states. This usually ends up in an injury or worse, the dreaded DNF. It is important to understand that there is an inherent wisdom of the body and no matter what you may think, it is always organizing towards health. You are so close to the big day, yet still a good ways away which makes this is the key time to listen closely.
Training is so much more than getting your workouts completed. There is a fine line between pushing through your current limits to discover new levels of fitness and determining when it is time for rest, even if that means missing a key workout. A good gauge between the good and bad hurt is if it lasts more than 3 days. After that you will want to consider cross training, time off and additional care such as massage, acupuncture or physical therapy. You will not lose any fitness by taking a day off here and there. It’s the why that is the most important question to ask. Are you skipping a workout because you don’t feel like doing it? Or is it because you know that your body is going to be worse off for it? There is an idea in spirituality that every decision you make is with the next seven generations in mind. Keep the big picture in the forefront and remain steadfast in meeting your goal. This means completing workouts when you don’t feel like it and skipping the ones you want to do in lieu of better health, strength and fitness come race day.
The workout does not end when you pull off your swim cap, unclip your shoes or shut off your ipod. It is complete once you have recovered well. Take the time to make a recovery shake or balanced meal immediately after completing your training session. Get in a hot shower, ice bath or both to help recover your muscles. Never underestimate the power of a ten minute nap and get legs elevated even for just a few minutes. Long distance multi-sport training is extreme, it is time consuming and full of sacrifice but we also need to function in the world. Most of us have families, commitments and loved ones surrounding us who are also sacrificing plenty for our success. It is important to balance the needs of others within our training lives. There are many things you can do on the road – recovery tights, nutritious snacks, portable self care tools. You would not be the first person to foam roll at a party or baseball game. Also think about recovery in forms of preparation. A hydrated, properly fueled body is going to rebound from a strenuous training session much more efficiently than if you are not prepared for what you are asking of your body that day. Do all you can to prepare for the next day’s workouts and turn off the television so you can get to bed earlier than normal.
Keep Your Ego in Check
The easiest way to define the ego is to call it a separation device. It wants to separate you from others, casting you as better than or less than. It exists in your thought life and not only does it want to rule you, it wants you to think that it is who you are. In the throws of Ironman training it will set forth thought patterns that equal self sabotage. It will be the part of you pushing to do the workout when it is not in your best interest. It is the part of you that will make you feel guilty for choosing to rest when rest is clearly the right answer in that moment. It will make you question your training and your ability to even finish. Left to its own devices, it has the ability to wreak havoc on your race day execution.
Some may argue that ego is necessary for competition but that is a misconception. When you are in your ego, you are not present. When you are not present, you are not being mindful and mindfulness is what science has linked to an athlete’s ability to be in a flow state to achieve top performance. Your egoless self is present, patient and more powerful than that ego could ever imagine. Once you start to notice your ego at work, you will notice its constant attempt to be in dominance. Practice non-judgement here, it’s about watching for these types of thoughts and choosing other ones. You will never get rid of your ego but you do not have to live through its lens.
Visualize Your Race
These final weeks are fertile ground for manifesting your best and most easeful race day performance. Visualization is a great tool for executing your race exactly as you have dreamed for the past year. Get to the know the course as best you can. If you are within driving distance, plan a training weekend so you can get on the course. If that is not possible then play and replay every YouTube video you can find showing the course and study the course maps. The reason why this is so important is because your subconscious does not determine the difference between thought and action, present moment or future moment. When you visualize your race, your subconscious believes that is happening now so when the event actually occurs it thinks, “Ok I’ve already done this and here is how it went down.”
Visualize everything about the race including your travel, on site preparation and race day execution. There are going to be factors that are out of your control but if you see yourself as calm and strong in your visualizations then that is the only way your subconscious will know how to act when these uncontrollable factors arise.
When BJ was in high school he was a star basketball player. He was dedicated to being his best in every situation on the court. He watched tapes of Larry Bird before bed and then reenact shots and passes that he effortlessly completed. This practice no doubt lead to the word shooter being yelled out by the opposing team anytime Beej walked out on the court. Triathlon and life, in general, is no different. Human beings have the great gift of imagination and it is through this mental faculty that we can manifest every dream we have ever desired.
See you all in 10.5 weeks. Happy training, recovery and ego-less visualizing!