This past Saturday, we triple bricked. That’s bike-run-bike-run-bike-run for over eight hours. It was the longest workout of the entire season and I made it out alive. But this blog post isn’t about the win that was Saturday’s triple brick. It’s about the fail that was Sunday’s swim.
Saturday was intense and Sunday was 2.4 miles of open water swimming, the very same thing that I had done the weekend prior. I arrived at the swim around 7 a.m. wanting to do nothing but sleep. It’s quite possible that I could have fallen asleep standing up. But this is nothing new in Ironman training – you must prepare to be tired and push through it.
I got suited up and into the water to do my anxiety drills. All went as planned. The rest of the group got in the water and like that, we started two loops of the Shadow Cliff triangle to equal 2.4 miles.
I started swimming and when I went to sight, I noticed that the three other guys that I’m usually not too far behind were pretty far in front of me. I knew that they were going all out for the first four minutes and I had strategically chosen not to so I could stay calm and prevent an anxiety attack. But the further they swam, the further I fell behind.
I stroked and breathed the way I usually do, but my body just wasn’t moving. It wasn’t too long before I was swimming completely solo and had lost any sort of swimming gusto.
Was it my fatigue from yesterday’s workout? I’m sure that played a part of it. But I also know that I was in my head, but this time, it wasn’t the “high jacking a school bus full of penguins and causing an unnecessary panic attack” (as Coach Paul would say) sort of thoughts. It was life thoughts.
Outside of Ironman training, there has been some big life moves happening right now. It has completely consumed me and over the past couple of weeks, it has become my main goal and priority, knocking Ironman down a few places. The stress of it all had finally caught up to me and made sure that I was aware of it on this swim.
For 2.4 miles I thought about everything and anything BUT swimming, and it completely obliterated me. I came out of the water cursing myself, walked over to the showers and one of my friends looked and me, shook his head and just said, “What happened?”
I couldn’t answer, grabbed my stuff and just left. It was childish, but I didn’t quite know else to handle this.
Over the past couple of days, I’ve been thinking about what happened and how I could have handled this differently. This isn’t a sympathy post, but rather an experience I wanted to share because how I handled this experience was all wrong.
It’s great to preoccupy ourselves with outside, tangent thoughts to get us through our workouts. In fact, it’s almost mandatory when riding 6+ hour days. But when you think about goals and dreams, the motto still rings true: dreams don’t work unless you do.
More than ever, I believe that if you want to get serious about your results, you need to get serious about your training. I am in peak Ironman training and I threw and extremely important workout out the window by letting other thoughts consume me.
As difficult as it is to sometimes compartmentalize your life, sometimes you need to, or it will eat you, and your athletic potential, alive. Running is my time to think about life, but as you get serious in the game, training needs to be intentional or you are doing yourself multiple levels of disservice. I should have tried to not lose focus on the purpose of that swim and I should attack each workout with intention. So with that, I learned a very key lesson…
Get focused. Get serious. And of course, happy running!