With it being the triathlon ‘off-season’ there isn’t anything hugely exciting going on at the moment. I’m just getting the work done and building the foundations for next year’s racing. Every year I forget how hard it is to get back into it and the frustrations of the lack of form enjoyed during the previous race season. But this time is essential: as I’m not getting bogged down in ‘performance’ and anticipating upcoming races, I’m just getting fit and enjoying the autumn season running with my dog and I’ve even negotiated some cross country races with my coach Perry Agass!
One thing I have definitely enjoyed about getting back into more serious training is the feeling of really pushing yourself. This week I had a 45 minute run, broken into three sections of 15 minutes, first at moderate pace, second at medium and third and final MAD! When you are tired it really helps to be able to build into a session and it teaches you a lot about pacing and how to dig deep. You find things out about yourself when you open up the hurt locker and have a little rummage round! During a turbo session recently I was watching a YouTube video of Ben Hoffman an Ironman athlete talking about this exact notion:
“As I get more mature in sport, the term ‘hitting the wall’ is more about a mental decision. Physically there are things that happen, but the more I race and have those experiences where you push that limit, it’s always a decision in your mind, am I done? Do I quit? And a lot of my training is based around finding these times when you’re right on the edge and you have the decision to either keep going, and see what you can get out of yourself, or say ‘this is too much’ and stop because it hurts so bad. The people that go on to win races are those that can manage this best and decide to keep going rather than succumbing to the pain.”
This sounds a little sadistic, however I fully agree. Becoming physically fit is almost inevitable by increasing your activity level, but the ability to channel the pain and hone your performance is something that can only be developed by spending time out of your comfort zone and finding a few things out about yourself. To me this is cathartic, nothing beats that feeling of leaving it all out there. For me this is on the rolling hills of Hockley woods, and knowing this feeling at its best is waiting for me at the finish line of next season’s races. Suffer now, when no one is watching.