Friday, July 9, 2010

Principles of Training

I'm here in Osoyoos preparing for the Desert Half Iron on Sunday. I came up on Wednesday morning planning to camp, train, rest and get acclimatized for the race. Thank goodness I came as early as I did. Wednesday just happened to be the first of a string of days where the mercury has continually risen to 40 degrees with no sign of slowing down before Sunday. The Desert Half Iron race in Osoyoos is easily standing up to it's reputation as Canada's toughest half. The swim is long (2000m compared to the normally 1900m for a half), the out and back bike course climbs up and over Richter Pass both leaving and coming in, plus it covers the rolling hills on the backside. Essentially, this course it the toughest section of the Ironman bike route and because it's an out and back, you get to do it twice. Thankfully the run course is flat with one short incline, however, because Osoyoos is Canada's only desert, the heat has no mercy. By the time you get the swim and bike out of the way, the sun is high in the sky and the heat is on.

Despite it's challenges, there are a few reasons I really like this race. The scenery is incredible, I know that seems like a silly thing to appreciate considering what you have to go through for it, but it's true. Also, the heat is a really good preparation for Ironman. It's a great lesson in fuel, hydration, rest, mental readiness and physical challenge because without great attention to each one of these... this race will take you down.

I'm having a great time so far. Anthony couldn't make it this weekend because a friend of his is getting married on Saturday. Feels like somethings missing, but nonetheless, it's still great to be here. I love camping and training. It's so simple because it's so basic. Train early before the heat hits, eat, sit in the shade and read a book, nap and basically wait out the heat while eating and recovering. Oh, and of course I found campsite with Wi-Fi for obvious reasons. You can take the girl out of the city, but....

Speaking of which, I'm reading a great new book. I'm completely captivated by it because, while there are small differences between myself and the author (she's a married mother of two), it seems this woman IS me. If you haven't picked up The Happiness Project, it's really worth the read.

Motivated after my early morning read over a sunrise by the lake, I had an amazing run. I did one loop of the two loop run course, plus the run too and from camp, so it ended up being about 15km. When my mind is relaxed, great things start to come to me. I've had such a fantastic year and I owe it to my three principles of training that I've applied and continue to stick to.

1. Train happy. I had a rather rough start to the year this year, and somewhere around the beginning of April panic struck. My plans for this year where starting to fall apart. I wasn't where I had hope to be fitness wise, I was starting from scratch recovering from a back injury and the workouts on the clubs training plan where a constant reminder of how far behind in my training I actually was. Luckily, I have great friends that allow me to vent my fears and insecurities because in doing so, I find answers. Thankfully, I was able to remind myself why I was doing all of this training and work, and it wasn't to win any championships. It was to accomplish a goal. To finish what I started and to do the impossible. It's about celebrating everyday successes, about acknowledging accomplishments and about a journey of a thousands steps that will take me towards realizing my dreams. These everyday things, tiny triumphs and lessons along the way make me happy, and THAT is my Ironman purpose.

2. Train Healthy/Safe. Reasons and motivations for completing the Ironman are a dime a dozen. Every Ironstruck athlete has one or many things that drive them and they are immeasurable to track. My reason, amongst other things, is that Ironman is a symbol of what's too come. When I said to myself in 2006 "I'm going to complete and Ironman someday", I might as well have said "I'm going to fly to the moon". It was unrealistic, an overwhelming thought and simply impossible. BUT - it wasn't impossible to train for a "try-a-tri" and then running my first 10km seemed to go over well and then my first half marathon, and a sprint distance triathlon and so on and so forth. When I complete the Ironman, it means to me that anything I can/will ever dream of can come true. That said, this isn't going to be the last/only dream that I chase. Training for an Ironman is tough. Tough on the mind and tough on the body, and in the end, I'm not going to win any awards or make a living at this triathlon business, so if I want to continue chasing dreams after this is all over, I have to keep my mind, body and soul safe. I have to stay positive in my mind, listen to my body, and constantly remind myself what my purpose is.

3. Have fun. Ok - you might think this is the same as principle 1, but having fun and being happy are two completely different things. For the most part, training is fun. It's what I enjoy, it's where many of my social circles run and when I'm celebrating everyday successes, I feel like a champ after every workout! But as I'm discovering now, Ironman training starts to get a little lonely. The number of friends willing to join you for a bike ride starts to dwindle after the 3 hour mark. Finding someone to accompany you for a 2 hour run is just as difficult. So now, I spend many, many hours training alone. I'm riding 5 to 6 or more hours on my long rides and they usually include a trip up a local mountain or to keep things interesting, a weekend trip to the Okanagan. The trick is (and this is easier said than done) to keep having fun. I think I've lucked out in that I honestly and truly LOVE riding bikes. Mountain bikes, road bikes, cruiser bikes with the baskets on the front, all of them. I love riding bikes. And although you may not believe me, I love to run. It's not as "fun" as bikes, but long runs are relaxing, they allow me to clear my mind and think quietly to myself and usually it's 1:30 - 2:00 into a run where I get my best ideas! Point is, if your dreading having to workout today, cursing your training plan the entire way up that mountain climb or looking for every and any excuse not to get into the pool today- just don't do it. Why? Nothing good will come of forcing yourself to do something you don't want to do. Rest today, go do something you really like to do and go back to that workout (or any other task your dodging) tomorrow.

Those are my thoughts of the day today (courtesy of this mornings run :). I'm really looking forward to this weekend and will post a race report soon after.

From the heat of the Okanagan... train happy, train healthy, have fun!

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