People write a lot about mental state and how important it is in triathlon... So ya, this is another post about that, and my thoughts on it this week.
Part of this comes from my personal experience and part of this comes from what I've witnessed my athletes doing in their own training/racing. I'll write mostly about my own experience- I guess I just mention that part about my athletes because it confirms that my experience is not unique. :)
So I think we all know that phrase... "Whether you think you can or you can't, you're right." I think I'll admit that this past few weeks of training I've been on the fence about whether I could or I couldn't... I have definitely been pushing some personal boundaries in terms of both quality and quantity of training. Volume has been higher than normal, and sometimes the sessions also call for strong effort and I've looked at them and thought I wasn't sure I could even complete it. OK I take that back... I don't think the 'could' was as much of an issue as the 'should' in my brain... as in, ya, I can go run for 2 hours today but should I?
Those questions eat at you if you over think them. My biggest fear is probably getting injured again. I know my biggest gains will come from consistent training week after week so anything that removes my ability to be consistent is something I try to avoid- I've said over and over it's not about the one big session that leaves you smashed, it's about consistently (day after day, week after week, month after month) putting in solid training... that is what builds your fitness. So pushing limits can get uncomfortable because I have this fear. It's a valid and justified fear!
Interestingly though, it seems coach is a lot less afraid of the volume I'm doing than I am. He seems to think I can do it and it shouldn't really be an issue. So yesterday, after 300 miles of riding in the 6 previous days, I actually went and finished off the block with the scheduled swim/long run as planned. (True story- I'd contemplated just skipping the whole day in favor of laying in bed!) But you know what? I did fine. Ya, I was tired, and no, it wasn't the fastest I've ever swam or run... Honestly I think more of the fatigue I felt came from my brain rather than my body. It was a matter of me doing too much math in my head and thinking to myself I've never put together 7 days this big before so I assumed I'd be thrashed tired and unable to go that far. But when I finally shut my brain off and just did it, I was fine. It wasn't as big of a deal as I'd made it out to be in my mind beforehand.
And interestingly, I feel fine today. I think knowing that I only had a swim on tap for the day helped put my mind at ease that now I do get a bit of a break... and it will extend into next week so it's not just one day of recovery this time like it has been in the past... so don't get me wrong I'm not advocating that we all just push and push endlessly until we're completely smoked. Eventually we all DO need to take recovery! BUT, if you want something you've never had before, you need to do something you've never done before. And maybe that calls for 7 bigger days in a row. Or maybe it calls for a 3 week block that pushes you past the point where you think you can't go anymore? Then you prove to yourself that you CAN indeed do it, and a whole new world of possibilities opens up in front of you.
At this point, I'd say I need to thank my coach for teaching me that my limits are not where I thought they were. And neither are yours.