Every month as the 21st approaches, I panic as I realize I’m one month closer to my Ironman. I’m fully immersed in marathon training now, and I’m sad to report that my bike and I are not spending much quality time together recently. But that’s how it goes. Winter solstice is on Tuesday which means that the days will start getting longer again and spring will officially be on its way. I’m already looking forward to its arrival.
My running times have continued to improve dramatically this month. Last month, I struggled to run seven miles in a 7:47/mile pace, and this month, I easily ran eight miles in a 7:40/mile pace. I’m very pleased with my continued progress. I know that I’ll probably stop improving so quickly soon, but I thought the rapid “hey, I’m actually focusing on running!” stage of improvement would end sooner than it has. I’ve had a few really solid swim workouts this month as well. Additionally, while my swimming improvement has slowed down, I don’t think it has stopped yet. I feel strong and comfortable in the water and recently had a very encouraging 1000 yard time (16:12).
I’ve had some trouble sleeping, so I’ve been a bit tired lately, but nothing that has been too frustrating. My appetite has been solid, and my weight has stayed stable. Of course, there’s that little matter of my leg pain that started last week. As I mentioned in a previous post, the second I felt the discomfort/pain on the outside of my leg, I was reminded of my stress fracture from college. The pain was on the lower outside of my left leg. It was barely there right, but I remember noticing the pain from my stress fracture for the first time, and it was barely there too. It may be paranoia, but I want to be careful, so I’m going to watch it really closely. Based on my Googling, I suspect it’s just some tendon pain. But if the pain gets worse and sticks around, I am going to cut way back on my running and maybe abandon marathon training all together. My goal is the Ironman, and this marathon is just a training run. It’s not worth it to hurt myself over it. And the benefit of being a triathlete is that, in the case of injury, you have two other disciplines to focus on. If this pang does turn out to be a real injury, I’ll just have to spend the rest of the winter on a trainer and in the pool. And, I mean, the trainer sucks, but it’s better than the elliptical and pool running, which was my sentence during my last running injury. The good news is that I don’t think any of that will be necessary because it’s been feeling fine the last day or so.
I’ve had some real low moments this month. I “quit” running and triathlon after my speed workout last week, struggled with some real motivation issues with both running (normal) and swimming (not normal), and I faced some anxiety after my leg started hurting. But I’ve worked really hard to keep these low moments in perspective and not let them bog me down. And I’ve been pretty successful, too. I generally struggle (to put it nicely) with keeping my perspective when things go wrong or when I feel crappy. For some reason, I’m much better at remaining positive regarding triathlon. Letting myself feel bad has helped. My leg feels weird. I may be imagining things or I may not be. Regardless, I’m worried and it’s okay. I can feel worried and not break down. I was discouraged after my speed workout. So I let myself be discouraged without beating myself up. I knew I would feel better the next day, and I did. Recognizing and accepting unpleasant emotions actually helps me process them. Now if only I could do the same thing in non-triathlon life…
Longest swim: 3050 yards
Longest ride: 25.72 miles
Longest run: 17 miles
Most encouraging workout: I would have said my 17 mile run with my dad, but my weird leg pain/discomfort disqualifies that one. So I’ll go with my masters swim workout where we did eight 200s. I didn’t think I would be about to hold the 3:05 pace for all the repetitions, but I did(and even went faster on a few!). I surpassed my expectations and showed more speed and endurance than I had earlier this fall.
Most discouraging workout: My seven 800s. I’m not entirely sure why these were so discouraging because, in general, it was a strong workout. But during the entire workout, the thought “I don’t want to be here” was floating around in my head. As I walked back to my car, I was sick of training, waking up late, being tired, being thirsty, etc.
Average time per sport per week
Looking to the future
Just like last month, I’m pretty happy with my running progress. I think my history of running and my decent aerobic base from the last few years of triathlons are the reasons why my running has improved so quickly. It’s funny that when I first conceived the notion of running a marathon, I was hoping to break four hours and now I’m starting to wonder if I could hit an unofficial BQ time (unofficial because my dad and I aren’t running a real race—just doing a 26.2 mile training run). If my leg (well, my body in general) holds up and if I keep training like I have been, I will feel great about my running when I start my Ironman training plan. My swimming is going well, too. My only perpetual worry is cycling. It’s probably my weakest discipline of the three, and I’m not really giving it much love over the winter. I just keep reminding myself that it’s the off-season and that I can’t focus on everything.