I have a recovery week this week which coincidentally coincides with taper week of the pinochle event of the calendar, Kona aka Ironman World Champs. All the social media hype that comes with it has been a bit of a sly reminder of how ‘uneventful’ life is to write about on a monthly basis, without the travel and racing. But these emotions are probably a mix of spending my non-training time over thinking, as well as jealousy that I won’t earn a giant (veggie) burger, a pint of beer and extra salty fries Saturday evening.
For me, September bought forward my 27th lap of the sun, 105hrs of training, 70hrs of work, and 243hrs of sleep. And on my hard weeks prior to this easy week, the topic of our mental capacity as athletes came to interest.
You have to feel uncomfortable to make gains
I’ve been spending a fair bit of time on the turbo lately, known by cyclists alike, it’s the ultimate spot to discover your limits of strength, endurance and determination lye. While hyperventilating through my sweaty mess in the garage, I was curious as to what mantras and mental games people use to open new doors within their dark space. My most frequently used - that the pain is just a warning sign, not a power off notification, the body still has so much more to give. With x number of reps, I like to cheat myself, tell myself I’m halfway at 4/10, and not include the last effort because it’s the last one so no matter what it has to be the best one. On 1min intervals, the last 20sec is the ultimate quad burner, at 45secs I close my eyes and count down from 10 really slowly. Sometimes if I’ve just read or watched a reality revealing world piece, I remind myself how lucky I am, and to make the most of it, but I don’t need to add tears to the equation.
Go until you blow
Still loving the swim squad atmosphere and coach JR. My latest love/hate set is Saturday mornings, 8x400 on 5.20, followed by 8x100 max effort. I can’t quite nail them all and back up with the 100s. But my heart rate is always high and my arms are always completely lactated.
The best thing I’ve gained from this years swim block (other than swimming faster) is my approach to speed work. I always turn up knowing it’s going to be a challenge, some days I wish I was a swimmer so I could do this more often and some days are like a turkey trying to fly! I used to build up a complex going into a hard track session or a turbo set with higher than ever target watts. But I’ve subconsciously become content with calling it a successful session as long as I push through all unpleasantries and give it whatever I’ve got.
Sometimes you’re allowed to enjoy it
Running is still a novelty and feels great at 35kgs! I’ve been using the Alter G down at BT Physio for some speed work sessions. Basically, you put on a pair of wetsuit material shorts with a built-in skirt that zips into a giant air pocket on the treadmill, let it calibrate and you can select the % of your body weight to run at. Also a $30,000 piece of equipment.
Enjoyed this session:
10min build pace warm up
8x3mins at race pace
(1 and 2 at 0% gradient, 3 and 4 at 1%, 5 and 6 at 3%, 7 and 8 at 5%)
90sec easier / steady between each
Incredibilities of being human
‘Endure' by Alex Hutchinson, (great read / I actually listened on audiobook) sheds a nice light with scientific evidence on brain training and going beyond our capabilities. Favourite study is the additional gains cyclists get over a 6 week period doing their turbo sessions at the same time as mind-numbing mental games. All about stressing more than just your muscles.
Well, this weekend will be an inspiring one. The start line holds a fairly even playing field of swim bike run training, gym work, diet and planning, excited to see who’s mental attributes deliver above and beyond.
Also, damn excited to test my own mental limitations at race level incredibly soon!
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