Most days I miss swim coaching. Having my athletes through The Endurance Drive is great, but conducting workouts on a daily basis is a much different experience. I think it took me about a month to realized I missed it. I am slowly becoming used to my new life as a full-time triathlete but I know that I will be back in college coaching at some point in my life. My daily routine is entirely different for the first time in six years. Mornings no longer mean pre-daws alarms for morning practice and despite an uptick in actual working out my feet no longer hurt from hours standing on deck. However, I do still smell like like a pool most of the time. My priorities revolve around nutrition, having great workouts on a daily basis and coaching my triathletes. I have also had more time to spend on many areas of my life that were often put on the back burner such as cleaning, being organized, a relationship and making sure my cats are enjoying themselves (not that this ever got jipped in the first place). At first, this new daily routine was foreign, even after a long day of working out, talking with athletes on the phone and doing tasks around the house I did not feel like I had done anything. I have had to redefine what I consider to be work, having done more of less the same things for the past six years. At points I think training has been a release or a break from coaching, now it is my main focus and I have been able to enjoy it more than ever before. Being able to be any sort of professional athlete has been a goal of mine for essentially my entire life, being close to that goal is very strange. I have a long way to go and it is important to always stay humble and patient with fitness but the results this year have been very encouraging and certainly make this little adventure seem worth it. At the same time I will be the first to tell you that there are always bigger races and faster people so it is good to stay level headed after wins and work just as hard on Monday as you did before the race.
Winning the first two races of my season has been very enjoyable. Being successful is obviously great but what has meant more to me is why I have been successful and how the races played out. I have been thinking of making this move towards professional racing for most of the past four years and I am not only very happy with my decision to step away from coaching but I am happy I have been able to make the most of this opportunity so far. Taking a break from coaching was not an easy choice but a unique opportunity presented itself and I would have been crazy to say no. I have always known I was willing to do the work to be at a very high level, I just needed the opportunity and the consistency to do so. This sport has allowed me to show who I am as an athlete far more than swimming ever did and having seen consistent improvement over the past six years I have been eager to continue that trend. The racing itself has also felt a lot different this year. I am able to actually control my efforts and trust my strength and endurance. I think a lot of this comes from being able to maintain perfect consistency with my training and focus on recovery during the hours I have off each day. I knew that standing on my feet or sitting at a desk all day between workouts was a bit of a limiting factor over the last few season but being successful and having the races play out so differently this season has really validated that belief. Even things as small as having a few minutes to clean and tune before my bike before and after a ride or taking time to properly roll out and stretch while running all help achieve the goal of long term consistency.
The biggest change over the last month has been for the first time in a long time I no longer feel bad or as if I am shirking other responsibilities when I am training. I know this is not forever and most of the time I still can’t believe I actually have this chance, so I am going to enjoy it and make the most of it in the meantime. Looking forward, my focus has shifted to Ironman specific training. I will get my first look at what the next month and a half will be like this week. I not only enjoy but also think I respond well to volume so I am really looking forward to the next block of training. I am pleased with how I have adapted to the prior work load without injuries or any other major setbacks so I will be interested to how I handle even more load. In the meantime I have an Olympic distance race in Big Bear State Forest this Saturday so I am looking forward to a few days of preparation, rest and then a hard effort on a beautiful course on Saturday.