This is the argument that I think I have with myself on a daily basis. I think that a lot of triathletes(myself included) almost enjoy the training more than the racing. This seems odd. Why is putting yourself through stress and fatigue on a daily basis more rewarding than the actual race in itself? Beats me, but for some reason training is the part I enjoy. Until very recently, most of my best times and paces were in training and not during actual races.
This may have been a combination of multiple things. I have actually had this argument with one of my good friends who is also a triathlete. When it comes down to training on a day to day basis, he cannot keep a pace to save his life no matter how hard he pushes himself; however, on race day when it matters, he throws out times that are significantly better than anything he had ever done before. My situation is much different. The times and paces that I throw out in training are very similar if not better than what I am able to reproduce on race day.
The questions that we argue is: Is he bad at practicing? Or is he just good at getting mentally ready for races? Am I just good at getting myself up for day to day training or do I just struggle when there are others around to chase after?
When I actually figure this out, I will let you all know.
Another thing that I am starting to realize is that I, in the past, went into many of my races overtrained. The percentages may vary, but many of you have probably heard the phrase "It’s better to be 50 percent undertrained than 15 percent overtrained." This was something that I struggled with. I would push myself through workouts weeks and days leading up to races to either prove to myself that I was fit or to try to gain every ounce of fitness that I felt that I was missing leading up to a race.
Recently, I have begun to trust in my fitness and the plan laid out for me and have been able to finally break through some PR's in races that have eluded me in the past. In fact, two weeks ago I was able to PR a half marathon and PR a sprint triathlon in back to back days. I was even disappointed in the sprint triathlon result because I wanted to do better, even with the fatigue.
I think learning to love the RACE, as the end goal is something that I am learning to do. As for next season, with the hiring of a new coach, I have set some lofty goals for myself both with placing and finish times.
Trusting the process and deciding the end goal is something that I will continue to work on. Learning to use training as a tool for the end goal. I am hoping it will ultimately pay off.
If nothing else, there are normally cool people to high five at the end of races.