The Ups and Downs of Ironman Training: Part 1 – A Real Downer…

Rock bottom...
Rock bottom…

Last weekend, I hit ROCK BOTTOM in my ironman training.

Saturday morning, I was all set for a challenging bike session. The weather wasn’t on my side, and neither were logistics: the fiance was out, (Technical Official at the Mirandabad triathlon) and it was too much of a hassle to find someone to look after Hugo. So I would do it on my turbo trainer.

The first stumbling block of the day came when I tried to take Hugo out for a walk (so that he would then settle in for a nap when I was training). For the life of me I could not find his lead. I searched high and low for a good thirty minutes before implementing a contingency plan: attaching a belt to his collar.

Well low and behold, when we walked down the stairs, guess what we found in the mailbox? His lead. Korneel had left it there by accident.

I returned from the walk and got on the bike 20 minutes later than expected. This put me into a bad mood, and I then got myself into a worse mood: I skyped with my mum and we had a huge fight. It’s a scene I am sure I could send to a TV sitcom: me on the turbo trainer, shouting away at skype on my laptop on the kitchen table.

With the fight over and done with, I could finally focus on my session. But maybe I shouldn’t have: the numbers were not there. I’ve been training with power since the end of January. Power training has certainly shown what I’ve always suspected: I’m weak on the bike. But that Saturday, it was different. I was struggling to hit warm up power numbers. “It’s fine,” I thought. “It’s just the warm up. You’ll get the numbers on the intervals.”

The first interval started: 15 minutes a bit below race pace, 15 minutes at race pace. Within five minutes, sweat was pouring off me and my breathing was laboured like I was going all in. But the numbers were still low. I burst into tears.

Just at that time, my sister called me. Sitcom moment number two: me crying hysterically on the turbo with my sister on the phone – and despite the fact that I was not hitting my power numbers, I was stubbornly pedalling away, keeping my eye on the timer running the 30 minutes out.

I was extrapolating one bad day into:

I have put so much energy and time into the bike this season – and not only am I not getting better, but I am actually getting worse!

My sister and I talked about my nutrition, and she had some good ideas for me. By the time I got off the phone, I thought, I can do this!

I started my second interval.

No – I couldn’t. My numbers were even lower this time around. I was torn: on the one hand, I thought, It’s ironman training! It’s going to be tough! And when the going gets tough, the tough get going! On the other hand, I thought, This is supposed to be fun. You do this because you enjoy it. And right now, balling your eyes out, you are not enjoying it at all.

“Just five more minutes!” I said to myself. “Make it to two hours!”

A minute later, the tears were coming thick and fast again. I stopped. I was done. Sometimes you just have to call it a day.

Unfortunately, I was also questioning my very ability to do the race… How would I recover from this?

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