Ironman South Africa Training Update

Man, this is tough!  In my head when I was planning this, training for an Ironman 100% indoors wasn’t this difficult – and I certainly hadn’t dreamed up the types of complications that have come up.  But that’s triathlon, I guess.  It’s not just a sport that we train for, I suppose; it’s a sport that we have to find a way to fit into our lifestyle just to survive on race day.  Endurance, training and race-day nutrition, injury prevention, hydration, proper equipment, mental toughness, race strategy (some to win, some to last)….all of these are things that take time to develop and understand, and that’s been REALLY hard to do with just 1 small grocery store, a handful of restaurants, the closest bike shop 3.5 hours away by airplane, no access to the outdoors, limited heat during a ridiculously cold and snowy winter, and the world’s worst cabin fever that ebbs and flows with security incidents, work life, and my mental state.

Recently I’ve added to this a lower back injury that landed me in the clinic – turns out I pulled the 2 muscles that connect my pelvis to my spine while adapting to new swim-replacement exercises – and (**gross alert**) a rogue stomach bacteria from bad water that earned me a few down-and-out weeks and a nice round of antibiotics.

But to me, this is pure triathlon.  I’m not Chris McCormack or Andy Potts, so for me and presumably the rest of us (minus one…I’m certain that Macca is a regular reader of this blog 🙂 ), triathlon isn’t so much about swimming, biking and running – it’s a challenge that goes far beyond that and asks us to commit to toeing the line on race day no matter what else is going on.  The old bumper sticker “triathlon is life” may be what I’m getting at – it really is!  As amateur triathletes we don’t have to be dedicated to triathlon to the point where it takes over our lives, but we DO have to find a way to make it a significant contributor without it becoming THE significant part of our life.

So I got sidetracked – my training update…

I’ve  been  training as much as possible over the last month, and I can’t help but feel like I’m training around the challenges.  Lower back is tricky, as is the stomach thing, but I’m happy with the balance.  Right now I’m taking 3 rest days per week – MUCH more than I had planned in my schedule, but to allow for recovery, this has been the only way to swing it.

On Tuesdays I’m hitting a high-intensity trainer workout on the Computrainer, on Wednesdays it’s to the treadmill for a 45-95 minute Fartlek run depending on what my back will tolerate, and then a long bike and run on Saturday & Sunday (on the trainer and treadmill, respectively) that bike before or run after if possible.  So that’s it for now, but my base is carrying me through nicely.  I’m feeling strong when I can get on the equipment, and when I can’t, I’ve had to stop beating myself up over it and accept it and work with it.  That’s been a nice revelation, and I’m still confident in knocking IMSA out of the park – who knows, this may be a blessing in disguise that will allow me to peak right at the proper time!

And last weekend was EPIC for the trainer.  At five straight hours on the trainer (read: didn’t stop pedaling for five hours), I hit my all-time record for indoor training…and it felt freaking fantastic.  I was so engrossed in “getting back on the horse” that I considered shooting for six, but I was able to convince myself that another hour in the aero position probably wouldn’t be so great.  Next weekend we’re going to push the envelope…shooting for 6 – 6.5 hours, and a 112+ mile read on the Computrainer.

So for now, LIFE is good and TRIATHLON is meshing nicely.  I’m thinking that both mentally and physically, I’m in a much better space than reporting that I’m killing it 6-7 days/week and am miserable trying to fight injury, illness and cabin fever.  Though Ironman South Africa is the next goal, triathlon for life is the goal.

Life is good.

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Why Do YOU Do Triathlon?

A few years ago, Ben Greenfield asked an interesting question of all of us crazy 3-sport idiots. It was a seemingly simple question, but the more I think about the question, the more annoying complicated it becomes. The question is this: WHY do you do triathlons?

Simple at first, but then maybe a bit more complicated as we try to answer Ben’s challenging follow-up…essentially “I don’t want the bulls**t logical answers like ‘I want to stay healthy’ or ‘it’s fun’ – I want you to dig DEEPER”. Deeper? Is there a deeper?

Ben breaks it down into the rational vs. the irrational, and gives a great example here: A rational answer is “my clothes fit better”, but ask WHY do you want your clothes to fit better? Maybe because you don’t like the way other people see you now. This comes back to a self-esteem issue, or maybe you just want to be able to get a better-looking girlfriend… 🙂 We get back to what Ben calls “irrational” answers for pursuing triathlon, but I think he just means “real”.

So take a look at Ben’s article by clicking here: http://www.bengreenfieldfitness.com/2009/05/why/#idc-cover

…and then you can read my shameless but real reasons here:

  1. it took me a while to figure this out, but it’s the fear of dying at an early age. My family has a history of high cholesterol and a lot of other ailments, and I want to live a happy, healthy life without all that crap
  2. triathlons are like Type A conventions – nowhere else on earth is there a larger gathering of motivated and intense people. There are no victims in triathlon
  3. the challenge teaches me how to beat my limits into submission. i used to think a 5:30 half ironman was out of reach, and then i trained my ass off and hit 5:17. triathlon gives me confidence
  4. i love looking good naked. Triathlon is the fix for that (in my ever so humble opinion 🙂 ). Though i’ve learned the hard way that a beard can really ruin that…
  5. saying “i’m a triathlete” is fun, and crossing the finish line rocks my world
  6. there is the hope for constant improvement, and there is nobody that can hold me back from doing more and doing it harder and faster but ME. Nobody says “slow down” in triathlon unless it’s intended to make you suffer for a longer period of time
  7. it’s just not possible to be bored of triathlon. I’ll never beat Macca’s 2010 win in Kona, but being an age grouper, Kona is still possible and a better AG finish in reach
  8. the mandatory alone time makes me a stronger person
  9. the prospect of living the last 20 years of my life in a prison of my own body is TERRIFYING – i want to be active and healthy when I’m older, and this is the best sport to keep that a real possibility
  10. the bikes are f**king awesome

Now go back to Ben’s article (here), and read all the real reasons for doing triathlon that other people have posted there. If you’ve ever wanted to see other triathletes from the inside-out, Ben definitely seems to have drawn it out here.

What are your real reasons for doing triathlon? Let us know by posting in the comments.

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