A thought occurred to me on Monday as I was ticking off 10 miles at 7:15 +/- pace a day after the IBM Uptown Classic.
Would I ever get all the way back to where I was last December.
Usually negative thoughts get quickly squashed when I am out running on the trail. If I start to feel myself go down that path I quickly replace those thoughts with something positive from my past. A time when I was coming back from an injury and instead of struggling to get back to where I was, I focus on the fact that I actually got faster. Or a time when during a training cycle I expected a flat race performance, but actually surprised myself and ran a new PR.
But this time it was different, I was simply being analytical and realistic. I am a year older now a 46-year-old athlete and this train is not going to keep going faster forever. I have had a very inconsistent year in 2013, lots of fits and starts. A few weeks or a month of great work then interrupted by an injury or forced time off. I would then build back as I did over the summer, then have another forced break. That is not the way to continue improvement. Consistency rules the day.
So I have decided to shift expectations just a little bit and focus on 8 week periods. No downtime, no skipped workouts unless I am ill. Avoid injuries at all costs, just solid, consistent effort and mileage across the run, bike and swim. If we can close out the rest of 2013 without missing any more time we can flip the calendar into 2014 with some strong momentum.
Ironman training is coming at perhaps the best time possible. Lots of longer workouts, lots of endurance work, lots of volume. Not a lot of short, burst, speedwork type workouts that can lead to overtraining and injury. I’m going to stretch more, be sure to get my strength training in at the Y on my swim days and try to focus on small incremental steps forward.
I knew there was going to come a time when setting new PR’s became unrealistic and instead I needed to focus on competing in my age group or setting new 5-year interval PR’s. Fastest time after 45 or 50 years old, that kind of thing. It happens to all of us.
But if for one magic moment on a race day I happen to show up to the starting line 100% fit and 100% healthy – then perhaps we’ll go for it. 18:02, 30:50, 37:30, 1:03:55, 1:23:31, 3:08:09.
Those might be the 5K, 5-Mile, 10K, 10-Mile, Half-Marathon and Marathon times we have to live with forever.
I’m by no means giving up hope or throwing in the towel at this point. But if that is indeed the case, I think I can live with those numbers. Pretty respectable for a 40 lb. overweight 38 year old guy who decided to start jogging at lunch one day with no plans to even jump in a local 5K. We’ve been to Boston a couple of times, New York City, raced in TX, NY, PA, VA, CO, SC and MA.
The fun part about this sport and triathlons is that there is always another challenge around the corner. You just have to keep moving forward and not let any setbacks get you down or especially keep you down. So here’s to wrapping up 2013 with a couple solid months of training and see if we can make a little noise down at Ironman TX.
It’s going to be fun trying to climb that mountain one more time.