One of the biggest changes I have experienced during the last three months is my ability to perceive the fine line in training workload between fatigue and adaptation. In general, I find my mind is usually at least a couple of steps ahead of where my body and in reality where my mind really should be. I frequently want to do more, only to find two days later I am on the limit of how much I can handle. Growing up as a swimmer has certainly influenced my thought process when it comes to gaining fitness and finding confidence heading into race time. As a swimmer, you go hard at least 5 days a week, during a season you are more or less exhausted for 6 months, feeling like you are always just a little behind fatigue wise. Then, you rest for two weeks and hopefully you feel amazing but even if you do not you know you are rested and are capable of swimming fast. As a swimmer you almost derive confidence from knowing you have been beat down and tired for such a long period of time. Swimmers are always anxious to taper, they look forward to it from day one of the season, in many ways you are very dependant on this drastic rest towards the end of the season to extract any real performance from your fitness. It took me the better part of four years doing things incorrectly on my own, to realize that this method of training has no real application in long-course triathlon training. In the early days of working with my coach, Andrew Yoder the deficiencies in my training were huge, I frequently pushed way too hard on easy sessions and as a result I rarely had any energy to push as hard as I needed to on quality sessions. These habits were reflected in my racing, great endurance, not much speed. These days the margin between a good workout and one that did not go to plan is much narrower. Unless you are doing something obviously different than planned, going too hard rarely feels like it at the time. I would probably say something like,”I just felt really good” when asked about a session that I clearly pushed too hard on. Two days later when you have a three hour endurance ride and it is raining, you might not go, you might be out of mental energy from the great session two days ago. Now you are going to take a day off or push yourself too hard to get through it and suffer through the ride, both of which ruin long term consistency and ultimately, fitness. I am certainly smarter than I was four or five years ago but the temptation to push things a little too hard is always there. The fitter I get the more I want to push. I am constantly reminding myself not to push too hard, to think about being able to finish a run three days down the road and ultimately to be able to show up on race day fit, but also fresh and motivated to work hard all race. Another obvious factor is health, if you are injured and cannot train, it does not matter how much you pushed yourself that one day, or on that one session two weeks ago. Once your number one priority is being able to train to plan every single day, staying in control at the end of sessions and always keeping a little margin for error in your efforts becomes much more natural. An important step is losing the temptation to validate oneself in any one specific session, rather, finding fitness and confidence from consistent long term work. The more I train with consistency and control in mind the better I have felt and the better I have raced. That has certainly made the transition to this type of long-term training easier, but there have still been leaps of faith along the way. The major battle in my head this year has been balancing all of a sudden having as much time to train as I want, with a realistic amount of training that my body and mind can absorb, with the goals that I have and fitness levels I know I need to achieve, in order to race in the profession field. I am constantly having to remind myself that if I stay healthy, remain consistent with my training and keep learning in every race I do, I have the potential to continue improving at this sport for the next ten years. I know this and am confident that it is true, but it is still hard to ignore wanting to put myself in as strong of a position as possible for each race and for next season on a larger scale.
I am currently in the midst of the last block of hard training before Ironman Canada before gradually resting for the next two weeks. Overall, I am very pleased with my preparation over the last four months. I am confident that I have made the most of the switch to full-time training and racing and as soon as I had the opportunity and time to train the way I needed and wanted to, I did so. Obviously, one always wants more time to train and prepare but I can honestly say I am ready and excited to race. I know how consistent I have been and how many changes I have made in my life and in my training to get to this point. I also know that I have given myself the chance to be very successful. You never know what will happen on race day but I am confident that I can handle adversity and have the capacity to perform everything I can control at a very high level.