Sunday, January 15, 2012

Countdown to Ironman, Weeks 24 & 23: Where's the Magic?

I think when you do something as monumentally difficult as training for an Ironman, you should suddenly, magically look really buff and tough. You would imagine that with this much bodily effort, this many muscle contractions, this many calories burnt, this many miles, you would come out the other side looking like a cross between a fitness model and a Greek goddess, right? But the truth is, if you watch the finish line of an Ironman, you'll pretty much see that apart from the pros and the genetically blessed, most of us crossing it still look like mere mortals. It's enough to make even Aphrodite pull her hair in frustration.

In the middle of a training cycle, you often don't even feel very energetic. You don't benefit from this busload of training because you're too busy being exhausted from actually doing it. The idea of course, is that once you taper the training off, you'll suddenly have this incredible fitness level. But from inside the Thunderdome of Pain (also known as the basement where the bike trainer resides), it doesn't always feel like it's there. I mean, what's the point of being an exceptionally fit person when you have to stop in the middle of climbing a flight of stairs because your quads are screaming for mercy from yesterday's track workout?

At this point, in the Heart of the Training Darkness, you just have to trust in the process and know that you'll come out the other side with an incredible engine-  that after the fatigue of the race wears off, you'll be able to do anything you want to with ease. I remember that the year after my last Ironman, I set all kinds of PRs at shorter distances, just because I had this huge base of training that I was building on. I know it will feel like that this summer when the Ironman is done and I no longer have to train as long, but I can enjoy the results of all the work I'm doing right now.

I have to tell myself these things on a day like today: a day where it's cold and it's sleeting and I have to drag myself off of my warm couch and away from my cup of tea to go brave the elements and get my run workout done. It will all be worth it when I cross the finish line, and all the adversity I face today only makes me stronger.


jtrimom said...

I hear you Robin. Although I have been fairly lucky with my riding weather, this past weekend, I rode about 50 ot of 66 mi into the wind and I just kept thinking, "WHY am I doing this?!" Then I remembered the IMAZ course and how amazing it is to DO and IM and I suck it up for the training so that I can experience that high again.

Marv said...

Seems like before I have always been training in the summmer heat. My brain gets so fried and I get so beat that I forget to ask "why I am doing this." So heat dementia is bliss, I suppose.
Good post, Robin. Dead on.

Mary IronMatron said...

Yep. I was just thinking along these lines today! What does it TAKE to have the body of a goddess? Because even those of us training for something as audacious as IM are, as you said, still looking pretty mortal!
It will all be worth it this summer. YES.

Julie L said...

I love this post. I can relate. And, not to start a controversy, but lately I've been reading a lot about how, if you want a great body, endurance training is not the way to do it. Rachel Cosgrove wrote a great article about how her buff body went right out the window training for her IM.