A friend of mine once told me, “The thing I always try to remember during an Ironman is, never put too much stake in how you feel because it will change every 20 minutes or so.” Easy to say . . . tough to remember.
This is actually one of my favorite topics because, on many levels, I think it’s the only thing that ultimately matters when it comes to Ironman. Pain, and more specifically, managing that pain is the key to hitting your goal.
I was talking with a different friend tonight who is getting back into cycling and he was telling me about all of the pain he feels. Saddle pain, calf pain, knee pain, ankle pain, etc. He asked what he should do about it and, after thinking for a minute, my only advice was, “Ride through it.”
I don’t know how else to say this, but that is exactly my plan for Ironman Chattanooga. I am fully prepared for the pain and only hope my mind can talk me into riding and running through it.
Last night I watched “4 Minute Mile,” and while I think it’s a bit on the cheesy side, there was some really good running stuff in there. Coach Coleman told his protege:
“You gotta face that fear. You GOT to, because if you don’t, you’re gonna be me, and, buddy, you don’t want that. But if you do – and I don’t care if you never run another race in your life – because if you DO face that fear, it’ll change your life. I promise you. It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do, but you gotta do it. Oh, you gotta do it. And then you’ll be able to push right through the pain. You’ll go right through the door. And when you’re about ready to pass out and your legs can’t move and your lungs can’t breathe and your eyes can’t see, you’ll know that it’s just the beginning, and it’s so beautiful. It’s beautiful.”
So, I ask myself, “What is that fear?” What is it that I have to overcome on race day? And the only answer I can come up with, is doubt. I fear that I won’t believe in myself when I start to feel the pain. I fear that it will seem easier to give up then push through the pain. Move the pain. Manage the pain.
That is my fear.
But, we’ve all done it. We’ve all run through that fear. We’ve all pushed ourselves past places we believed were possible. So, why not on race day?
The more I train for these races, the more I blown away I am by the mental perspective. On some levels, it’s really simple. Don’t let that obsessive, crazed personality take over your mind on race day. Go out at your pace and keep a little in the tank until you really need it . . . then, understand.
Understand that your body will recover. Understand that you are capable of doing much more than you believe in that moment. Understand that the way you feel will change.
Hydrate, fuel, and embrace the beauty.