This year has been my most enjoyable, hard earned and successful racing season yet. There are so many things and people that have contributed to every PR, podium and even training success.
First and foremost my coach, Michelle. This was our third year of working together, and she has continued to push, motivate and find the best in me. I think one of the reasons I've always respected her as a friend and my coach is that I can relate to her. Michelle works her ass off for all of her achievements, and while she may not have won the genetic lottery, she puts so much into her training, racing as well as her athletes. I'm super excited (and always a little bit scared) to see what she has in store for me starting back in January!
Second, my mindset. This was probably the hardest thing for me to build, grow and change. I think this is probably one of the hardest thing for a (not naturally talented) athlete to perfect. Having the confidence in your abilities to show up when it counts, to push your limits and to flip the switch when the going gets tough (and it ALWAYS does). Instead of looking at my training schedule and completely freaking out, I started to take it day by day, workout by workout. I shut my brain off, and just did the work. This paid off ten fold during my Ironman and instead of having doubts and listening to the pain, I trusted my body and all the hard work I had done and just kept moving, all with a smile on my face.
This post wasn't meant to talk about my amazing coach or my hard work, but more to point out that what I did differently in the past couple of years wasn't just the type of training, it was the SMART training. The consistent training. I know that we all work differently, but one thing that I have found is my body needs to do things over and over and without long breaks.
Each year I keep a training log, and look at my year end totals. Sometimes I get excited when I see new peaks of total miles, but this year I was actually surprised to see that some of my total numbers were actually lower, particularly on the bike. But what was different is I biked often, and I biked with purpose. I biked through my marathon training (not very willingly, but I did it!), and then increased my bike days after the race. I never had more than 4-5 days off of the bike at a time (exception of travel). And, while my tri bike is still sitting with the (flat) race wheels, race stickers and even a (gross) water bottle still on the frame..... I was back on my road bike after a week of rest from Ironman.
The same goes for my swim and my run. The first time I ran after Ironman my legs were SORE. It had been 12 days since the race and a slow 5k run hurt me. I've done several shorter runs and finally started putting in a bit more mileage over the past couple of weeks, and my legs feel better and no more soreness. What has really surprised me is my speed and effort isn't far off from where it was before the race. I've had a steady year of running, again without any long breaks, and it pays off!
With swimming, which I love, I have to be swimming consistently 3 days per week, and not just easy flop swims to keep strong. I've been back to my masters group for 3 weeks now, and it's taken 3 weeks of swimming 3k+ to feel good again after 2 weeks off. Swimming once or even twice a week just doesn't cut it for me, and as much as I know this is everyone's first thing to drop off when they don't have a race goal.... it can be the hardest thing to get back.
So, I challenge you to give it a try. Start logging your time and track what happens when you keep plugging away and don't lose your goggles, or let your bike tires go flat.
Keep moving, stay consistent! Then, enjoy the benefits of your hard work!