Ironman isn’t just a race, it’s a lifestyle. So much goes into that one day that to think you can just wake up and do it is insane. Along the journey you are going to find out A LOT about yourself and your friends, family, co-workers and the sport. It is amazing the things that I learned going down this path. There were so many lessons that I could write post after post after post about the lessons learned but I won’t. I know you are all a busy group with all the swimming, biking, running, stretching, strength training, core work, eating, sleeping, work, meeting friends, reading to your kids, etc that you do so I boiled it down to 5 simple clichés.
Your road to Ironman will be bumpy, just accept it. Not everything will go as planned, just accept it. One day you will be able to swim 1:30/100y and the next day be struggling just to finish the set, just accept it. One Monday you will be on top of the world, but by Friday you will feel like death…..just accept it. This is how it goes, but if the following five lessons I learned can help you then it was worth every moment of putting my body and mind through it.
1- Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
I learned this because I will have raced a total of 12 races this year. I started with a 15k in January, then a 1/2 mary, 1/2 IM and it kept going. All the while training has to be fit in along with trying to be a husband, step-dad, partner in my business, etc. It was more than I should have done. When the peak training for Ironman Arizona hit I was frustrated, crabby, mad and HUNGRY. It had all come to a crescendo during those 4 weeks and as much as I love racing I don’t think this schedule is smart. Our bodies and minds need rest, so take it. Step back from the game. For the past two weeks I have done what I want and when I want. This has been the best recovery ever and I am loving it. Sleeping in, making breakfast, talking to my wife past 8:30p……it is all awesome and very much welcomed. Be mindful of what you are going to put your body through and don’t bite off more than you can chew.
2- Treat Others As You Would Want To Be Treated
The paragraph above talks about my frustrations and my crankiness and that spilled over into my home life. I was not the best husband I could be because I was tired. Just plain tired. I wanted to sleep, I wanted to eat, I wanted to train and all on my time. I tried my best to not put myself at the top of the heap but there were times when I did even when I didn’t have to. I like to get my workouts over with early in the morning so I can spend time with my family. The problem with that is there were days where I was just too tired to do anything and yet I pushed forward to do them. Sometimes it worked out but other times I was just a crabby asshole. Your family and friends deserve to be treated better and so if you are tired then bow out of the event and let them have fun rather than being the thorn in the side. If your training calls for a 4 hour bike ride but you want to be with your family then do a 3 hour bike ride and be fresh for them. Treat them the way you want to be treated.
3- Just Say No
Did you read that last paragraph where I say to just bow out? It is so important to know and understand your limitations. There are only 24 hours in the day so you need to respect that. You are training for 3 hours, you need to work for 10 hours, you need to sleep for 8 hours and that totals out to 21 hours. You have three hours remaining so make sure you take advantage of them and don’t try to do too much. If somebody asks you to help them out think about it long and hard before you commit to it. They may be upset that you say no but it could help save the friendship in the long run because you end up being a no-show since you fell asleep on the couch. I know that as IMAZ training continued on I started to post less on the blog. I stopped posting on the weekends unless there was something very compelling I wanted to say. I have also cut back on the number of blogs that I read as I just didn’t have the time and more importantly I wanted to read it and understand it. If my eyes are glazed over then I am not really comprehending what I am looking at and this is a disservice to the writer.
4- Listen To Your Body
I cannot tell you how important this is to having a successful training cycle. I know when I went through the first cycle for Texas that if the schedule said 4 hour bike ride well damn it I am riding for four hours no matter how tired I was. In the cycle for Arizona if the schedule said 4 hour bike ride and I finished the loop in 3 hours and 39 minutes I got off my bike and did my run. I got home 20 minutes faster than I expected and that was a good thing. I didn’t push it because nothing was going to be gained in that 20 minutes of riding. When I needed a nap I took it. If I needed to have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich I did. Your body will give you the answer to all your questions so listen to it.
5- Eat All Your Veggies
This is not a ploy to convert everybody to vegetarianism but more of a reminder to treat your body like a temple. You cannot possibly go out and ride your bike for 4 hours and do a 30 minute run and then stuff your face with Oreo’s right after. Make sure that you are recovering properly with the proper nutrients. Get all the macronutrients that you need into your system (carbs, protein, fats) as well as your micro-nutrients. Be smart about what you eat and when you eat it. It is important to get that recovery shake or meal into your body within 30 minutes but after that listen for your hunger queues. Your body will tell you when it is hungry so pay attention and then make sure you are eating something that is going to help you recover and get out the door the next day for training. That is not to say that you shouldn’t have pizza if you want it. Go for it and enjoy the hell out of it. You earned it and it is what your body is craving at the time but remember that you need fuel for that next workout and making wise food choices will help make that workout a bit easier.
My journey to Ironman Texas 2013 begins one week from today and I am excited. This week is my last unstructured week and I am taking advantage of it. I am swimming a little, riding the trainer a bit and running for however long (not how far) I want to. I added in Bikram Yoga as well as using the rowing machine (that machine is now affectionately known as the Machine Of Death.) I have gone to a wheat-free (not gluten-free) diet and it all feels right. My body is telling me that it feels good and I like to hear that. When the clock strikes on the 10th I will be rested and ready to get into the workouts again, but I also know that if something doesn’t feel right I am going to back down. I have 6 months until this next Ironman and I want to get there in one piece and that starts by following the lessons I have learned in 2012.
What Lessons Have You Learned From 2012?