Less than one percent of people will ever even attempt an Ironman triathlon.
Ironman Triathlon doesn’t call to everyone. But what I’m about to say applies to pretty much everything at least in endurance sports. I believe that the other 99% could do it if they decided they wanted to. I’ve seen too many people complete the Ironman race who you wouldn’t think could do it to even consider the idea that somebody can’t do it. I don’t think there is any special magic workout or path to success in these endurance races except 1 thing and that’s consistency. The people I know who succeed are diligent about putting in the time every day to make it happen.
Consistency is so very very underrated in almost all things but if you look closely at almost everything in life you improve through consistency in doing that activity. Would you like to be better in math … do math consistently. Do you want to improve in swimming. Swim consistently. Want to improve in biking. Bike consistently. Do you want to improve in running – well you get the idea.
Consistency is tough. It really is. Those who have tried will admit that right away. Doing something day after day after day is harder than it may seem at first. There are a million things that can get in the way. There are endless excuses for why you can’t do your workout today. But then again think of the things that you do everyday without even thinking about it. Like brushing your teeth. I brush my teeth every day and if I don’t do it my mouth feels icky. Am I the best tooth brusher in the world? Um nope I’m not – but I’m pretty good at it. Working out everyday is never as automatic as brushing my teeth but it does get easier with daily repetition.
When my training is going well it feels sort of automatic. I get up and I do my thing. If there is a wrinkle in the schedule I adjust but I can almost always get my workouts done. But when I break the pattern for more than a few days it very quickly becomes really hard. Recently, because of bad weather and travel I lost a solid few weeks of training. Especially swimming. Last week trying to get back to my routine I was frustrated every day. I couldn’t figure out where the time was going and how to squeeze my workouts in during the day. It just wasn’t working out. On Friday, I finally cracked. I have 5 weeks until Ironman Florida and I knew that my training was nowhere near where it needed to be. There had been good reasons to miss those workouts but now what was my problem? For the first time since my first Ironman attempt I literally considered pulling out of the race. I talked to a friend and I talked to my husband both of whom said…wait a minute skippy, slow down, are you sure about this? Of course, no I wasn’t sure about it at all. So, I tabled the decision till after the weekend.
And then I buckled down and got busy doing some of the work that needs to be done. I did a long and gnatty run and then woke up the next day and did a long and hot bike ride. I did a lot of thinking during those activities. Yes I did. When you have a lot of miles alone on the run you have time to think. And I thought about how and why I had fallen off the consistency wagon. Truthfully at first I didn’t have a whole lot of choice. When prepping and running from Hurricane Irma there wasn’t much time to train. I didn’t take my bike because the car was loaded with crap and I didn’t want to worry about it. Swimming on the go can be a challenge. I could have done more than I did though. I’ve been obsessive about my workouts in crazy places before. I didn’t do it this time. Somewhere in there I chose not to do it. On some level I’m sure I was aware I was making the choice. That was my choice and I’ll pay for it on November 4th – you can be sure of that.
How do I get back to being consistent?
I have to choose to be consistent and I have to set myself up for success. I know how to do this. Consistency for me takes two things.
#1 Honestly and publicly commit to making the workouts a priority. My freakout on Friday definitely qualifies as putting my family on notice that Ironman build stress is here. They’ve been through it before they know the drill.
Item #2 remove anything else that is in the way. Look at what is stopping me from doing these things. Usually there is some kind of behavior like staying up late and watching TV that is getting in the way. This time interestingly there isn’t that. When I looked at what was in the way it was simply the residual storm stress. Before I could do the bike trainer workouts I had to clean out the garage so I lost a workout there. Then once that was done I did get back on the trainer. The pool where I swim was closed and it has changed it’s masters swim program hours. Sadly not in my favor. So, it took me some time to find a replacement pool and work that into my routine. Thursday I overslept that’s poor planning on my part I resist getting up at 4:45 to swim – I just have to recommit to it. What was in the way of my run. Well this one is weird. Running with the piles of storm debris makes me sad. So, to avoid the sadness I was avoiding my run. I went out to run Friday and I let myself get sad and mad at all the piles of debris and I told myself that I couldn’t do it. But then when I was having my Friday breakdown with my husband I realized I was cheating myself. I know somebody who is training for the Marine Corps marathon and she’s doing her long runs come what may. She did 16 miles using a 4 mile loop around a golf course. So I really have no excuses. So Saturday evening I did my run. It sucked. I ate gnats. I was alone. I managed to get horrible chaffing on my back. Never wearing that sports bra again by the way – ouch! But back to my run thinking. On Saturday evening I realized that there were legitimate objects that had been in my way. It wasn’t just me staying up watching tv and drinking too much beer. So, I needed to give myself a little bit of a break while simultaneously pushing to get back to consistency. Assume the workout will happen. Don’t ask yourself can I run today instead ask yourself when will I run tomorrow.
So that’s the goal between now and November 4th – be consistent with the workouts. Be creative if needed. One of my favorite goal setting saying is: be rigid in the goal, be flexible in how you get there.
I always say before a race that I’m not sure if I’m really ready. But this time while I’m fairly sure it’s going to get done it could be fairly ugly in the process.
Thank you for reading and coming along for this journey. If you enjoyed this rantish article please let me know with a comment below. I’m also including a video I filmed of what my neighborhood looked like early last week when the linemen were busy trying to get my neighborhood’s power back up. It was a mess. Now we’re cleaning up debris which I swear is multiplying by the day.