I have also gone years of racing without really pushing myself until I see the finish line. I have never really followed a training program beyond well, I am going to run three times, swim three times, and bike four times this week; one short and fast, one kind of tempoish, and the other long in each workout. Then I do all of those workouts at my nice easy pace and wonder why when it comes race time, I have just one pace.
Duh. You race how you train.
I finish my races and have fun - which are the primary goals of course - but I do not push myself really. The truth is, I can be kind of a dud with training, just going through the motions, especially when I am alone in my training, no training partner to push me, no one to call me out on a lame workout.
In general, when I train, I stay comfortable in my pace most of the time. When I hit a motivation low and admit it to my friends, they usually encourage me to skip the workout, take a break and go to 2 for 1 Pizza Night or Burger and a Beer Night at the Marshall and get smashed. As fun as this is (and as much as I love pizza & burgers), it would lead to me missing the workout the next day (and not losing that 10lbs)...which leads to...well, you all know how the nasty workout-skipping spiral goes.
Now, all this encouragement by my friends to skip a day or two of training is all very well intentioned. My friends think it is really cool and all that I am training for an Ironman, but they sure don't have any interest in doing it (most of them would rather lick a cheese grater than spend 3-7 hours on a bike) or even really know all that much about triathlon.
A few of them wish I would just "get over this" and "get back to normal" again. (Hint, this is normal for me, I don't see myself getting over it.) A lot of them are still confused about what order things happen in triathlon ("is it the run first?") and wonder how the IMLP distance compares to "that race in Hawaii."
So lets just say that when my motivation is low, I need to find the will to go within myself. So do you. I think that many lucky triathletes are helped along with this by having people they train or meet with for long rides and runs. They have that little extra push that helps them get out there - and I am insanely jealous of you all.
Not really kidding.
Often when you are low on motivation that is really the time you need to get out there. That is when the mental training kicks in, running even though the thermometer reads -10 (or less) and you really don't even want to look outside, getting up early for a workout even if it is really warm and cozy in those covers, going one more mile on that blasted trainer, making the long drive to the pool at a ridiculous hour. All that stuff is money in the bank toward your mental toughness.
In the end when you toe up to the start line for your A race, no one else is really going to care that it was -10 in January so you bagged that run, or that it rained that day in May when you were going to ride 100 miles, or that it was kind of cold in May so you just couldn't bring yourself to get into the water at Pleasant Pond. Only you really. Missing that stuff is what eats away at your mental toughness, chips away at your confidence. That is the reason to get out there and push through those tougher times, so when you toe up to the line, you have little doubt are ready to roll.
All of this has lead up to my decision to enlist a little help on my Ironman journey - I now have a coach! Actually, I decided this about a month or so ago, but I am just getting around to talking about it here.
Angela at TriMoxie Coaching - her and her business partner Mary are rock stars who are both experienced competitive triathletes and moms who understand the challenges involved with juggling life and training. I am really excited about this, I know Ange will help push me to work harder than I would alone, and I also am pretty sure she will call me out if I am being a dud. Seriously, you guys rock, and I am looking forward to working with you the next 289 days until Ironman Lake Placid, it is going to be a fun ride!
Best of luck this weekend to all Kona athletes, you all inspire me!