As a triathlete, or any sort of endurance sport enthusiast you are almost constantly looking forwards. You strive to beat previous times, run quicker, swim faster, cycle better. This is fueled by websites such as Strava or Garmin Connect, which allow you to record your workouts and then compare them to previous efforts or to other athletes.
It is very easy to become obsessed with this. “Last time I rode up Portsdown hill in 5min 11 seconds and today it has taken me 6 minutes……..I must be getting slower” or “I am the 112th fastest person who has run along that section of road, but only 116 have ever run it. I am shockingly bad at running”.
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Thoughts like these will often pass through my mind as I am reviewing my workouts. Of course I tell myself that this sort of analysis is essentially pointless. The only way you can really compare two workouts is if the conditions during those workouts are exactly identical. Same weather, same time of day, same amount of sleep the night before, same nutrition, same gear worn, same everything. Naturally some days you feel faster and some slower, depending on training load, nutrition and sleep. I know all of this, but never the less I still pour over the data and run myself down for not being quicker.
Every once in a while somebody reminds me of where I have come from and why I should feel hugely proud of myself. Usually this is one of my mates who I regularly exercise with. I will moan and groan about how I am still slow or unfit, and the guys retort by reminding me of just how far I have come.
In the constant pursuit of becoming fitter, leaner, more muscly or whatever else you might be training for it is only too easy to lose sight of where you came from. In August 2013 I couldn’t run to the end of my road. I would get out of breath walking up the stairs. In August 2015 I can cycle over 100 miles with relative ease, have completed a marathon and can swim for pretty much as long as I like. To be honest I am barely recognisable from the man I was two years ago. Broadly speaking I look the same on the outside (other than being bit thinner) but inside beats the heart of a proper endurance athlete. OK I’m not the fastest. Agreed, I may consistently finish in the bottom 3rd of my races, but who cares.
It is an interesting feeling being only 29 days away from the Ironman, what will be without a doubt the biggest challenge of my life so far. I am hugely excited to be racing and massively proud to be representing and raising money for Chestnut Tree House. Coupled with that is the fear of what I have signed myself up for (as mentioned in the previous blog post). Fear of the unknown.
One thing that I know for certain is the man I was in 2013 would have had absolutely no chance at all of finishing an Ironman. As for the man I am today, well I guess in 29 days we will find out.