Nothing will make you feel like a “non-Ironman” more than being sick. The last two days I’ve battled spring allergies, good old fashioned gunk, and some serious psychological doubts. But, there really is opportunity in everything, and what I learned (or more importantly remembered) yesterday couldn’t have come at a better time.
When I see that “4 Months” remaining on my countdown clock, I begin to realize this race will be here and gone before we know it. The training has been steep and will only grow in intensity, but while time flies, it’s really important to take a step back and just look around. That’s exactly what I did Sunday and Monday. That’s when I realized I was dehydrated and depleted.
I spent most of yesterday re-kindling my love of juicing fresh fruits and vegetables. The transformation was no less than amazing. I went from barely being able to talk, breathe, or walk, to feeling better than I have in weeks.
When you train at this level, you rarely recover and a specific workout doesn’t really show up for a couple weeks. They talk about nutrition being the fourth discipline of Ironman and on many levels, it could be the first. Momentum, willpower, and pure desire can only carry you for so long. At some point the body will shut down without the proper fuel.
I still feel remnants of sickness, but there is no question I’m on the rebound, and fast. I feel like pounding a workout right now, but will likely just take an easy jog after work. And, let me tell you the key part of that last sentence is “I feel like pounding out a workout.” For the last few weeks I have been “motivated” to pound a workout, but it’s pretty rare that I’ve actually wanted to hammer.
I’ve been trying to listen to my body for the last 4 months, but a lot of times I block myself out and power through when I know I’m not ready. This is a bad plan. We learn and improve in small increments. Humans have an amazing ability to go above and beyond, but I think that’s what coach means by saying we only have a couple matches to burn a year. And I’m pretty sure I don’t want to burn them in training.
So, the key comes back to this. Proper nutrition, hydration, and performing a workout plan that will slowly elevate you to the level you need to reach. If I stand on that start line in Wisconsin and “feel like” I can do it, I probably will. If I stand there less than in my best mental and physical shape or worn down, I will have major doubts.
From what I can tell, Ironman training is a slippery slope. It’s not as simple as just logging miles. It is a complex weave of balance and belief. More than anything, I want to be in the best shape of my life that day, and more importantly, I want to feel like I’m in the best shape of my life.