My Latest Insanity: Training for a Half Ironman

Those of you who have been reading for a while know one very fundamental thing about me: I’m certifiably nuts (particularly when it comes to exercise). I blame it on being a competitive swimmer for half of my life, but unless I have a big fitness goal to work towards, I’m like a lost ship at sea. I feel listless, grumpy, out of sorts.

However, the second that I pick a race of any magnitude, everything comes into focus. I feel calm, determined, happy. I was thinking about the root cause of this phenomenon and I think it all comes back two things:

(1) I have a goal-oriented personality. I have never been a spontaneous, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl. I’ve tried to be that person and it just makes me a nervous wreck. I’ve come to terms with it. Hello, my name is Cyn and I’m a scheduler. I schedule everything – work, leisure, cleaning,… It’s OCD, but it works for me.

(2) My childhood was ruled by the calendar (starting at the age of 7). My swim team handed out a calendar every month. It had each day’s workouts written on it, planned swim meets, and even suggested caloric intake. In short, everything in my life (literally everything), revolved around getting those pool workouts in.

Those habits die hard and the second that I have one month worth of workouts written down, I feel an incredible sense of relief. I know what you’re thinking, “Um, shouldn’t you be telling this to a therapist?” Rest assured my friends, one of my besties is a clinical psychologist and she assures me that all is well. It’s just learned behavior.

Okay, now that I’ve spelled out how and why I’m certifiably nuts, let’s get to my latest venture: The Half Ironman. In case you’re not up with the latest triathlon lingo, a half Ironman is a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride and a 13.1 mile run. I briefly flitted with the idea of doing a full Ironman (so 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, 26.2 mile run), but there’s a really good chance that I would have killed myself in the process. The full would have been a bit too much of a good thing (if you’ll recall what I went through to finish a full marathon 4 years ago), so I thought the half Ironman was a good goal to have. It met my necessary criteria – it is challenging, but doable and I definitely need to train for it.

That training started this week. Here’s my May training plan:

May workout scheduleWhile I’m going to do my best to stick with this schedule strictly, let’s be real. Life happens. I have a full-time job, a husband and two children. Sometimes, I don’t get to drop everything to make sure that I get in a workout. So the way that I’m approaching it is that each day’s workout is not set in stone. Instead, I’m focusing on the number of each type of workout (swim, bike or run) that I need to get in on any given week. So if I miss the swim one day, I’ll make it up the next day so long as I still get three swims in a week. Make sense?

So far, getting into a groove has been the hardest part of starting this latest craziness. On day 1, I forgot my ID card needed to get into the pool so I had to switch the swim to a run and yesterday, I had a hell of a time getting my bike set up properly on the bike trainer (seriously, it took me like an hour) so I had to cut my ride short. Today, I forgot my swim cap (good thing I have short hair!), but I swam anyway. Oi vey.

These are the kinks and hiccups associated with any new schedule, but I’m happy to say that in spite of the week 1 errors, my head is in the game. I feel grounded, focused and ready to tackle this. I have four months to train and whenever I start to get tired (which is often!), I just remember how good it feels to be strong. I’m not the fastest by far and I certainly don’t have any delusions that I’ll do this in record time, but I’m a finisher and nothing in this world feels more satisfying than cross a finish line after the end of a grueling battle of mind over matter. That feeling, my friends, is worth every 5am wake up and every sore muscle. Promise.



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