It’s hard to be consistent. This is true for training, working, and anything else worth doing in life, which is why I’m only just now getting back to writing. 2017 is shaping up to be a bigger year than I anticipated, not that I didn’t see it coming. In fact, it should have been obvious the moment I scribbled my digital signature over the registration iPad in Arizona, standing just a few steps away from what had been the finish line only hours earlier. But I had a year then. Now I’ve got just over seven months.
My race calendar is light so far with only a half Ironman scheduled for May (Ironman 70.3 Santa Rosa) and the full set for November (Ironman Arizona), but I’ve never really taken training seriously until now. For anyone who needs a refresher, 2013 was my first year in triathlon. Every distance was a new challenge, every sport a new discipline, every race a new PR. My personal history with sports was limited to varsity lacrosse in high school, and a limited amount of rowing and field hockey in college. After graduating college, I spent a couple years training in Krav Maga and then I finally settled into doing triathlons.
During that first season with every sport a new adventure, I wasn’t focused so much on training, but surviving. I had to both develop and improve my base fitness simultaneously. Although I’d been familiar with running for years, it was a while before I felt comfortable running for longer than 3 miles. Swimming likewise required patience and the will to believe that something faster than 1:50 per 100/yd was a possibility. Cycling is still a challenge, as I’ve elaborated on before.
I continued that pattern of haphazard, on-a-whim training into 2014 where I somehow managed to get through LA Marathon (not very well) and then trained for a half Ironman at Lake Tahoe (which also didn’t end well). But as strange as it sounds, races and performance didn’t really matter to me during those couple years. I was caught up in the journey of learning how to do cool things that a lot of people never think about but never do. Even though I trained a lot, I really only did it when I felt like it, choosing my metrics and workouts on a whim with no clear direction (except for the few times that I consulted with a coach). I did sports because sports were fun and the score didn’t matter.
But some time between then and now, that changed.
Training got serious. Not in a bad, absence-of-fun way but in a diligent, make-every-workout-and-hit-every-metric-way. I have goals now. I have realistic perceptions of my possibilities. I have curiosity about my potential. As such, the biggest challenge of finding consistency has been getting used to letting someone else call the shots. As I mentioned in a previous post, working with a coach can be a very different experience compared to working by yourself, but it’s usually one that most people find beneficial. It’s been strange learning how to be accountable to someone other than myself, but at the same time it’s rewarding to have another person in my corner to cheer me on along the way.
The sheer volume of miles, and hours, and yards is starting to add up (just as, painfully, the hours of sleep and rest and mindless fun are starting to go down) but now the balancing of life and training has become a sort of satisfying sport itself, the challenge of learning how to bear the pressure and adapt and coming out stronger for it. It’s this same sort of appreciation for attention to detail that spills over into the training itself, and enhances the quality of each day’s workout. The mantra of triathlon training dictates how essential it is to enjoy the process because race day is too short.
I know that just a few weeks out from my race, my training load still qualifies as “manageable.” We’ll see what September and October look like, but for now I’m tired but not down. I’m still enjoying the every day improvements of hard training, and I’m excited to see what each new workout brings. Most of all, it feels good to finally get back into a rhythm and stick to a schedule, knowing that each day is an important step in the right direction.