Four years and counting. That’s how long I have been on my journey, and the one thing that has become clearer with each passing race, with each passing season, is that there are NO shortcuts. Regardless of your goals, whether it’s losing weight, or finishing that marathon, or competing in an Ironman, it takes work … lots of work … and it is constant. The breaks are few and far between. You would think I would know this by now, but it is becoming increasingly clear, a little more each year, and as bright as the damn sun.
I lament each season about how I didn’t improve as much as I thought I would, or should, because I know the hours I put in training, and the effort I put in each week and each weekend. The time spent away from home, the time I spent neglecting work, the house, the yard, should result in decent times and improved races. But they don’t. Not always.
Well, check that … I HAVE improved, but not at the rate others in my immediate group have … today reality smacked me in the face.
I went back through my Daily Mile, Garmin, and My Fitness Pal reports for the past three years. Not bad. Decent mileage and time each week. But then I started going through others I know.
I am nowhere near to the time and mileage these people have recorded. I am not even in the same stadium.
In my defense, I am overweight and 51, so I am a bit older (and heavier) than all the people I train with, so the pounding it takes to do back-to-back long training days is a problem for me. I am lucky if I can do a long run on Saturday and a long bike on Sunday. My body, as it is now, just cannot take it. I promised myself long ago to not use my weight as an excuse, and I am not doing that here. It is presented as a reason I require a bit more recovery time than most people. I have knee issues (still needing repair on the right which I keep putting off because the thought of not training is scary to me. Much scarier than the pain I get in the knee after long runs.). I have arthritis and inflammation in hands and wrists. I have breathing issues as a result of the cancer I had. The soreness (and overall “creakiness”) I feel in the morning cannot be described, and cannot be understood until it happens to you. Each day I roll out of bed, stretch as best as I can, get in a hot shower, and come to life. I get to work around 6:30 or 7:00, put in my 8 hours, then head out around 4-4:30 to get in a ride, swim, run or combination of them before getting home around 7-8, eat, try to be in bed by 9:30 and do it all over again. Monday Night Football is a thing of the past (unless the Dolphins are playing) and the DVR has become my best friend for the few shows I do watch, and more will be relegated to the DVR shortly.
But here’s the thing … I am tired of just finishing races. I am frustrated with the issues I continue to have at training sessions. I would like to compete. I am in a decent age group now so I should be able to compete, and with that realization comes the other that if I truly want to compete I have to work harder … I have to figure out how to work around or through the pain and pounding required. Maybe more biking and less running to lighten the pounding? I have read in a few places that this method seems to work (bike fitness helps run fitness with lightened stress load on the body) but then you read other pieces that say you need to be bike 100 miles every weekend and running 20+ miles.
Where this is different the past two years, and where I am still struggling, is that I am basically on my own as far as training during the week, and I suck on my own (I have mentioned this before). Jennifer and I are lucky to get one day of training in now, usually on Sunday, so that puts me to my own devices 6 days a week. Not good. On top of that add this weird “blah” feeling I have had since my last Ironman and it all adds up to woefully sad training times and efforts. I am still getting out there, but I am finding that I am forcing myself out there, and not enjoying it like I did in previous seasons. It is teetering on being a burden now, and that worries me, because I know if it gets to that point of being a hassle to get the training done, the training will stop.
There needs to be some proactive bud nipping quickly …