I panicked a little when I realized my Ironman was only four months out, but I’m doing a little better now. I just keep reminding myself that I’m putting in the work, and that’s all that I can do. It’s been a busy month full of physical therapy, working out, and getting on top of my sleep and nutrition.
I’ve been feeling fit and healthy this month. Physical therapy has helped my knee a lot, and I realized that my focus on recovery did not, in fact, cause me to lose all of my fitness as I had feared. In fact, when I compare where I am in all three disciplines versus where I was in those disciplines when I started training for my half Ironman, I can see that I’m in a good place. I’m a stronger swimmer, a stronger cyclist, and a stronger runner. I’ve been trying not to focus too much on times and paces, but my strong showing (and negative split!) in the Salt Lake City Half Marathon gives me an indication that my endurance is in a good place right now considering how early it is in my “official” training plan.
I spent the first two weeks of Ironman training certain that I was doomed. I was exhausted. All the time. I wasn’t sleeping well, and I was just tired. I just kept telling myself to give it a month. I’ve noticed that whenever my routine changes, my new life seems impossible for a month. It happened when I went to grad school. It happened when I moved to Utah and started my new job. So I knew that my exhaustion didn’t necessarily mean I wasn’t ready to jump into the training plan. Fortunately, I have felt much better this week. I’m starting to get into a groove. I’m sleeping better, and I know what to expect. I’ve also been eating really well (as in, enough). I’ve gained a few pounds and have been able to listen to my hunger cues instead of forcing myself to eat. I’ve also found myself gravitating towards foods that are good fuel instead of only straight-up sweets (though I eat plenty of those too!).
Right now, at this moment, I feel very positive about how my training is going. That wasn’t necessarily the case a week ago, and it may not be the case a week from now. We’ll see. I was really on edge for the first couple of weeks of training (sorry, Rob!), but I’m doing better now. However, I know I’m still being a little obsessive. And I’m still working on balance. I want to do an Ironman, but I don’t want to become a difficult person to be with during the process. For me, it a matter of balancing my training, my job, quality time with people, and regular adult responsibilities (like doing the dishes), all without being so stressed out that I make the lives of the people around me miserable.
Longest swim: 3000 yards
Longest ride: 34.3 miles
Longest run: 13.1 miles
Most encouraging workout: The Salt Lake City Half Marathon. Despite a month full of frustrating runs, I ran a great half marathon with almost no pain last weekend. Physical therapy worked it magic, and my knee is pretty much back to normal, though I’m still working on strength and trying to maintain good running form. And even though I was certain I had lost all my running fitness (because my runs have been slower), I had no trouble holding a good pace throughout the entire race. I even had my fastest miles at the end! It’s a good reminder that slower training runs are not necessarily a bad thing. Recovery runs are okay.
Most discouraging workout: My split 60 minute run. If I remember correctly, this was the last straw for me and was the run that finally prompted me to get to physical therapy. I was only able to run for 30 minutes in the morning before I the pain in my knee hit the point where I worried that running more would set back my recovery. It was very discouraging at the time, but as you can see from this post so far, it’s not really discouraging at this point because my knee is doing so much better.
Average time per sport per week
Swimming: 112.5 minutes
Cycling: 178.5 minutes
Running: 136.5 minutes
Other: 99 minutes
Looking to the future
Just keep swimming/cycling/running. And stay healthy. That’s the name of the game for me. This is my first Ironman, and that means it’s basically about putting in the miles. I’m going to continue trying to slow down and not worry about pace. From now on, I plan on trying to run my long runs no faster than an 8:30/mile pace. That will likely happen on its own once my runs get long enough. (I suspect I’ll be running no faster than a 9:00/mile pace when my runs really get up there). However, I may have to focus on running a little slower while my long runs are still in the 90 minute range. I just need to remember that I won’t be running my Ironman marathon at an 8:00/mile. (Heck, I won’t even be running it at an 8:30/mile or 9:00/mile pace.) I spent the winter doing hard running workouts on (mostly) fresh legs. It’s time for me to dial back my pace on those long runs to account for fatigue.