Days to the Tremblant Ironman: 19 (Yup, days!)
It’s hard to believe that there is less than one month to the Ironman. The last few weeks have been so busy – with travel, weddings, and life – that they have been a bit of a blur.
As much as I try to stay in the present moment, I tend to be hard on myself and feel like I could have done better in this busy period. I want to do it all – but have come to realize that I can’t do everything well, at least not everything at the same time. Certain aspects of my life will need to take a back seat, in order for me to devote the time needed towards training. In the last few busy weeks I missed workouts, and felt unmotivated (mainly from exhaustion) to check off all the training. But I need to stop with the should-a, could-a, would-a, and focus on the time ahead. 19 days. I also need to focus on my mental game for the next 3 weeks, and my mental strategy for the actual day.
I’ve had numerous successes since the Muskoka half. I swam 3400 m (only 400m short of the IM distance) and it felt easy, comfortable, and smooth. Yes! I also climbed fairly hilly roads in Toronto and made it to the top without stopping (woo!)! I rode the Duplessis hills in Tremblant and only cursed once (progress, not perfection, is what I’m after!) and I generally feel stronger and more ready than last year to tackle the Ironman.
I had a few good chats with a friend of mine who loves cycling (read, unlike me) and something she said has stuck with me – “You don’t have to love it, and that’s ok.” In other words, don’t force love. (Isn’t that the truth!) I was trying to switch my mental game to loving the bike, trying to tell myself that “YES, this is amazing!”, but it never worked. My mind and my body are fully aware that I don’t love cycling. I enjoy it from time to time, of course, and it’s beautiful to be outside on a sunny summer day. That said, I don’t get any sort of high from biking. It’s work. It’s hard. And there is no reward during, or after, the workout. Or so I thought.
I stepped back to compare my experience, and my perception, of the three sports recently. I love to swim and can stay in the water all day. I’m not a fast swimmer, but I’m comfortable in the water. I love to run and know that I can mentally push through pain and exhaustion once my runners are laced. The bike portion though, I’m less fond of. I feel a sense of accomplishment once I mount a hilly hill, sure, and it’s a good workout when your thighs burn and your lungs tire. My mind though remains in a negative space, not enjoying the experience, and not wanting to push too hard. It feels like work. A lot of work. And this is where I need to evolve my mental game.
The reward in hard work can be the hard work itself. I have to repeat that for it to really sink in.
The reward in hard work can be the hard work itself.
As I keep my cadence up, push and pull on the pedals, I am rewarded by the feedback my body receives – the sensation of pain as my body is working, and the feeling of my heart and lungs working, hard. Knowing that I am alive, putting my body through a challenging workout, one that will make me stronger, both physically and mentally.
And so rather than try to love the bike, I’ve decided to become ok with not loving it. I’ll be telling myself throughout my next rides and my Ironman race too, that “This is hard and that is ok.”
Life isn’t meant to be easy. We strive to achieve big goals because lofty goals force us to stretch, grow, and evolve. It’s when we really push past our limits that we achieve great success.
With a few days left before my taper, I’m aiming on completing some last hard and long workouts. Yes, my last few weeks have been far from perfect, but I know what I need to do with the time left. I need to complete one last long, hilly, and hard ride, and I need to get in another long swim and run. Then it’s taper time, with shorter intense workouts, and mental preparation for the big race in Tremblant.
I’ll be honest – this whole journey over the last few years has been eye opening on so many levels. I know how my body and my type 1 diabetes responds to all kinds of exercise and stress, I know now how my mind reacts to various challenges, I realize the importance of balance and life priorities, and, last but not least, I know that the race itself is just the celebration of this whole journey. The hard work is almost all done, then it’ll be time to simply show up and have fun!
How do you mentally prepare for the sports which you are less fond of? Or are weakest in? Let me know in the comments below. Would love to hear your strategies!