When you are on a trainer for an extended period of time(Nearly 3:30 and 70 miles),
(Proof that I spent that long on a Computrainer)
You have a lot of time to think. A lot of time to have both positive and negative thoughts creep into your head. Sure, I had a TV on in the background, but I can honestly tell you that when I am trying to push intervals on a trainer, my capacity to tell you what I am watching on the television decreases exponentially. I think as athletes when we put ourselves through these long sessions, it is more mentally than physically fatiguing at times.
I, also, think that we can learn so much about ourselves during these "suffer-fests." I know, personally, I convince myself and un-convince myself about 30 times through the course of these long sessions that this is something that I actually like to do. At this point, it is important to "Know Thyself" and know what gets your through these tough times.
I have three main Mantra's that I stick to during these tough times in my workouts:
1. "I get to do this!" - I know I have talked about this before, but it is something that is worth mentioning again. So many people under-utilize their potential for a variety of reasons. They may not think they are capable and are afraid of failure. They may not make time for it. They may not feel it is something that is worth their time. Whatever their reasons, most likely they are not good enough to justify not trying. I read a great article the other day that addressed many of these titled "The Hard Things You Need to do to be Successful." Give it a read. Its awesome.
I like to put it like this. If you had to walk up to a person that was incapable of walking at all and tell them that you were too tired to go try and run today, could you?
2. "At some point, this workout will end." - I use this one on really, really long rides and runs. There are many times during workouts that it seems like it will never end and the suffering will go on forever! These are times where I have to tell myself that at some point, I will get to get off this bike, or I will get to stop running. No workout lasts forever and no matter how bad it may hurt or how far you think you have to go, eventually the pain will stop and you will get there.
3. "Even bad days/workouts can help you improve" - This is sometimes the hardest one for me to grasp. On days where you are pushing watts way below what you know you should be or you feel like you are drowning in the water or a ZONE 2 run feels like a ZONE 10 run(I know these don't exist), it is hard to see the Silver Lining. However, if you are doing it right, each workout has a purpose and sometimes those days may be more beneficial than the days that you PR. It is up to me to decide whether I am going to let the poor workout dictate my attitude.
These mantras, just like doing a "Nutrition Checklist"(Google Macca's "Embrace the Suck" article"), have helped me to realize how important it is to know my own body and know what to do when these tough times come.
Learning about myself has also helped me to understand when it is important to switch workouts up and take extra rest when necessary.
This takes me to this past week. Saturday and Sunday this past weekend and this past week as a whole, I put in more hours and distance than I ever had up to this point in my "Young" triathlon life. For others who have done this for a while, this past weeks hours would seem miniscule, but for me, it was tough and left me pretty tired on Monday.
On Monday, I was still able to get my swim and strength session in, but I felt like crap. I emailed my coach and told her that I was slow in the water and not strong today. She has been doing this long enough to understand that the long bike that I was supposed to have on Tuesday due to my traveling schedule, was simply not going to work. She helped me to decide that I needed an extra day of rest before that workout.
In her words, "The weekend was big, and workouts were long. You should feel like a complete (fill in the blank as you would like). And it looks like you do :)"
So we switched the schedule to have a easy run and bike on Tuesday, and the long Brick on Wednesday. This worked well. And I have continued to progress on the bike and these "Over" workouts are instilling me with more confidence each time.
Learning about myself, knowing my limits, and finding the best way to improve has been a long process. Less than 4 months now until my Goal Race for the season. Still more work to be done...