Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Brain Training

It was another wet day today. I had considered going to Tantalus today but descending Tantalus in the rain didn't seem like a smart choice of activities, so instead I stayed on this side and rode repeats of my 7min hill and while it was wet, the descent wasn't scary. Just like yesterday my legs felt like bricks for the first ~20min and then felt better/stronger. I used HR today and it was depressed for sure. Prob ~10 beats lower than it would be on a day when I'm fresher. I wasn't surprised by that given my last few days of training, but it was weird how HARD I had to work to get HR >150. I had to stand and really stomp up a steep section of a climb to get it to go up. Seated climbing was in the 140's and the rest of the ride was 120-135 range. Def on the very low side for me. Funny though I'd say if I wasn't wearing HR, while I would have guessed it was on the low side, I didn't feel miserable or pissy or like I shouldn't be out there.  My brain was good and in the game. In total I rode for ~2 hours and went up the hill 5x.

I got home and my plan was to run. Originally I was thinking 10 miles, then I was thinking maybe 7 would be enough. I didn't eat enough on that ride to support a 10 mile run off though so I felt like I should eat, so I ate a bit, then I checked email, and then I really didn't feel like running at all. Like I just got really tired and was having thoughts like maybe that was enough for today and I should just shower and nap. Isn't it smart to recover when you're fatigued? Obviously I am fatigued bc HR was so low. Maybe I'd just run 4 miles. Or 2?

I finally convinced myself to just get out there and start and see how it felt... I actually didn't feel terrible physically, but my brain was caught in a battle for sure. Like I just didn't want to be running, so I was going over all the reasons why I should stop and not run anymore... I went back and forth with myself and finally decided to just get to the church where there is water (1.8 miles from my house) then maybe I'd turn around and go home... I felt shaky when I got there like I needed some sugar for sure. I ate 1/2 pack of chews and then just sat down on the bench outside the church, head in my hands, dripping sweat like a leaky faucet. I don't know how long I sat there? Maybe 5 minutes? Possibly more. Just letting my brain argue with itself about whether or not I should be out there running. In the end I decided that THIS was the mental state I'd been looking for on the bike (but hadn't found)... I wanted this opportunity to work through an intense desire to STOP, but to make myself keep going. Inevitably in any Ironman every athlete out there is going to face these thoughts... It's hard and you don't want to do it anymore- but there's no quitting- so I think learning to keep going when your brain is trying to convince you to throw in the towel is an important part of the training process. So that's why I kept running today.

I wasn't actually running poorly. When my HR is depressed I can run quicker than when it's not (and it doesn't feel as hard). Anyway, I got myself to my 3.5 mile mark and considered turning around, but by that point I was sort of enjoying the process of telling my brain to shut up (over and over and over). I was trying hard to focus on my physical action- stable hips, braced core, quick turnover, hands up, that kind of thing. I got myself to the 5 mile point and turned around with a sense of satisfaction knowing that I was going to get my 10 miles today and I was getting the brain training I wanted. To be honest, I hardly even remember those last 5 miles... it was just one foot in front of the other don't think just do, much like the back half of an Ironman marathon.

I'm quite tired now. It's an interesting feeling though- one I like- I feel calm and relaxed and unconcerned about little things. Tomorrow will be a lighter swim only day. I wanted to find the edge of my cliff, not hurl myself off of it, and I think another big day might throw me over the edge. 16 hours of swim/bike/run in the last 4 days was enough.

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