Wednesday, July 22, 2009


One of the challenges that I've faced in my return to training is, well, how I feel. Rationally I know that I've recently completed an Ironman and therefore can't be in too bad of shape. Or out of shape (what have you). For Pete's Sake, I spent how many months working on my aerobic engine, power, and endurance. It can't be all that bad, right?

But on a different level, I feel...slow, (dare I say...?) fat, and slightly encumbered. Sort of like I've been outside in the cold for a really really (really) long time, and my cheeks have frozen so that speaking and forming words is tough. You have to think and be deliberate when communicating (while snot and ice melt all over your jacket).

Aaahhhh....the memories of winters in Minnesota. And to think - I spent how many hours, skiing and frolicking in the snow? Now, well, now after living in North Carolina, Florida and California, my cold weather tolerance has, um, slightly decreased. Anything below 68 and I'm in arm warmers and toe covers. (*wimp* snigger. Kindly keep your remarks to yourself. I realize the absolute absurdity of my statement).

But in my return to training, I've been feeling, well, off.

And yes, I'm still excited about training, happy that I'm steadily gaining back my fitness and know that in the long term - the time off and long recovery were ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. But its still tough.

Because for the past few days, when the intensity has kicked up, I've been forced to listen to (and then deal with) the inner-dialogue of myself.

For example:
Self 1 - Running at a 5K pace? Ha ha ha - that's a good joke! Just back down...its only 2 or 3 minutes.

Self 2 - Unacceptable! It's going to be hard - DO NOT settle! Fast - work those legs, focus on turnover, GO! No one said it was going to be easy.

Self 1 - You don't do *fast*. Remember that IM-thing? Steady...strong...solid. Note - the fast is not part of the deal.

Self 2 - NOT LISTENING. La la la la la! Go fast now - because if you don't, you never will. GO!

More often than not, Self 2 wins out, and I push the pace, up the intensity, bring on the power. But there are other times where the task at hand seems just a tad overwhelming.

Today at the pool was no exception.

Post-CDA swimming has been interesting. For some reason, its taken me a bit longer to get comfortable swimming with Carlsbad Masters. Last week during my first week back, I swam in a slower lane - but still felt slightly out of sorts. This week, I've made myself return to my regular lane...but its been challenging.

In the past, making my lane's base pace wasn't usually much of a problem (and yes, there were always exceptions). But more often than not, I volunteered to lead - and didn't think too much of it. By the time my wheels fell off, the workout was usually coming to a close - and the guys who really wanted to sprint and have the fastest split for the day, would simply take off and drop my sorry butt (but I would try to stay on their feet...)

And while I realize that Rome wasn't built in a day, and my swimming and overall fitness will take some time to re-build (the point being, that it WILL return) - I still catch myself in the battle between Self 1 and Self 2.

Today, I had the perfect External Motivator in the form of my lane mate, urging me on. And while I partially believe he said what he did because he didn't want to lead the final 400, I was still grateful for his support and kind words. Because in the end - they made all the difference.

For example:
Marit (out of breath, slightly panting)- Okay, final 400. I don't think I can hold base pace. Who wants to lead it?

Jeff (totally calm, serious) - I think you can do it. In fact, I think you can hold a 1:xx pace.

Marit (slight pause, brows furrowed) - You know what? Okay. I think I can do that. No, I KNOW I can do that.

Jeff (totally calm, serious) - Well okay then. On the bottom, let's go.

In the end, I was exactly one second off the base pace Jeff predicted. And yes it hurt, and absolutely I felt like my lats were about to explode. But I did it, I made it happen.

Would I have 'gone for it' had Jeff not made his pledge of support? Not really sure about that one - undoubtedly after starting the piece I would have pushed hard and picked up the tempo throughout. But Jeff's words of encouragement and belief in me, made all the difference.

I guess that's the take home message: support from friends, family, loved ones, and training partners can make all the difference. So - be sure to hug your family members, thank your lane mates (do NOT pee in the pool! At least not in your lane.), and give your training partners their full due. I know that I would not be the same athlete without their support.

Thanks guys - for believing in me today, when I didn't. You made all the difference


ADC said...

Marit, you will be our old speedy Marit in no time and you will ROCK Kona. Can't wait, can't wait, I am even more excited for you than you are.
You are so right - the support from the family and friends is totally necessary. I think we are both lucky to have husbands who do support us in what we do. Happy training!!!

Damie said...

well, I think IM training just does that. you are so fit...but without the fast stuff, you just feel different- the slow stuff as just been going on sooo long. I remember my first 5k post IM- steady, but slow. A month later and I had take off 1 minute. So...just keep flushing those pipes and keep that Oct goal in sight!

D said...

I want to hug and thank my training partners, I really do. I think if I hug and thank the air that I might get funny looks though :/

With that, you are DEFINITELY coming to Vancouver next year. Maybe even more than a week... Bring the monsters!

Missy said...

I'm with ya - trainging partners don't get their appropriate DUE in all of this. Not only do they believe in us when we don't want to go any farther, they push us when we just can't have them beat us;)

Shan said...

Yes, it's definitely normal to feel a little off after patient with yourself, but yes, work hard too!

Love ya!

Can I come back and be your training partner...? :)

Angela and David Kidd said...

It's been a few years since I've trained for an IM but I still remember the highs and lows, and pushing through the lows of training will make you that much stronger when you push through any lows you face in IM. And it's great that you have a support system helping you through when you feel "off."

And I totally understand what you mean about feeling slow. I said the exact same thing to my husband and he totally didn't get it.

Ryan said...

Wait! You mean there is a type of running in which people run faster than Ironman pace???

What type of mystical world have you been to, and should I go there too?

Beth said...

I definitely know how you feel Marit - but I think the way you feel now is just proof that you did exactly what you needed to do and did it right - rested when it mattered and in Oct you will be so thankful!! But yes, still it's hard. You have such great support though (as do I!) to help you through the tough part now. And you yourself support so many people when they need it too! Works both ways!! :) Happy training - it won't be long before you feel like yourself again!!

Charisa said...

You'll be back in full-swing mode in no time. Also - think of this - if you were in peak tip top fastness shape right now, come Hawaii, you wouldn't be. Because we all know you can't hold tip top peak form FOREVER. You will be ready at exactly the perfect time :) Enjoy all of it - the process, even feeling a little bit slow because when you are really fast, you'll appreciate it even more :)

GoBigGreen said...

Alaska was great, thanks for the tips. tho it was about 50 degrees and rained most the time. Oh well.
One day at a time my friend. it will come around bc you have it in your heart...those next races.

And um. dont come home. I mean, till winter. bc then at least you will be prepared for it:) and have snow:)
I hold out hope for August but well...we are in the 60-70 range pretty much.