Sunday, March 7, 2010

Week Fourteen: Twenty Lessons I Have Learned...

"Positive thinking makes anything a possibility; negative thinking insures defeat."
                                                                  Le Cougre

What a great week! I have ridden a high since last Sunday's completion of the half marathon, and although it was a bit difficult to refocus on resuming training (ie goodbye taper week) for my "real" race during the beginning of the week, overall my efforts have been good. I have had a great time with my training since it began fourteen weeks ago, but admittedly there have been times that have been more trying than "joyous". I was able to recapture that joy, even if just for a short while, on Saturday during a great session with my tri partner Lizzard. We had a great speed workout in the pool followed by a nice run on a beautiful day in City Park. It was one of those sessions where everything felt like it came together right, and I felt strong and fast and was just plain happy. Unfortunately that feeling didn't last through my long bike ride and what was supposed to be a brick workout on Sunday...but with a new attitude about my perceived failures in training, I am over it and still happy and have a renewed incentive to keep bonking away from my workouts.

With that being said, my post this week is an ode to all that I have learned over the course of my training. Without those really crappy workouts or races, there would be no learning, and with no learning comes no improvement. So here goes:

Twenty Lessons I Have Learned

1.  There is no shame in sucking wheel. Grab it when you can get it. Hold on for dear life because when you lose it it's hard to get it back.
2.  Don't judge a dog by the number of legs he has. Three legged dogs can run fast and do lots of damage too. Just ask my friend Liz...
3.  Good running shoes are well worth the financial investment. It helps lessen the physical toll from blisters that push your toenails upwards subsequently grossing out your training partners.
4.  When feeling like you are growing another appendage in your biking shorts, consider the use of chamois cream. It also may keep your spouse from thinking you are a hermaphrodite.
5.  Mantras, no matter how silly, work. If it helps to say "Flipper can do flip turns, so can I" while you swim, more power to you. It works for me.
6.  When you think there is absolutely nothing left in the tank, look one more time and there just may be enough to get you to the next fill up station.
7.  Think like a Boy Scout and Be Prepared. Nutrition and proper sleep are essential. Treat a 4 hour training ride like a race and stock up the week leading up to it, and especially the night before it.
8. Water and gels alone are not enough to carry you through a long bike ride. Electrolytes and training partners who can tell you crazy stories about their personal habits are essential for success.
9. Once you bonk there is no coming back. In this case, the tank really is empty.
10.  A cauterizer, epsom salts, and Advil are your friends. Don't be afraid to use your friends.
11. Consistency is the hardest thing to achieve in training. Keep striving for it and someday it will happen. I'm still striving...
12. When running in a race, set your own pace, don't run someone else's pace ~ especially anyone with a funny gait and a bouncy ponytail.
13. Always carry more nutrition than you think you'll need in case you drop your only gel midway through a race.
14. When registering for a half-marathon don't put the wrong time down and end up in the first corral with the elite athletes when you should be in the 14th corral with the rest of the amateurs. And if you do end up there, for Christ's sake don't stay there!
15.  It is not abnormal to have conversations while cycling with other riders that you would never have in civilian life. Nothing is taboo, but what is said on the cycle stays on the cycle...
16.  Vultures are strong enough to pull large roadkill off of the road in amazingly fast time. Do not lie down on the road in exhaustion and not expect a problem.
17.  Muscle cramps in your quads and hip flexors are not fun. They are very painful. See lesson #8.
18. It is essential to laugh at some point during each training session, even if your coach tells you that if you are laughing it means you are not focused. If you don't laugh you are not having fun. If you lose the fun, what's the point of training?
19. If you miss church on Sunday because you are on your bike, it is still possible to spend time with God by enjoying and appreciating His creativity in nature. How can you count the number of His turtles that you pass when stuck sitting in a pew?
20.  Developing strong friendships with good people is inevitable when you train in a group. These are the people who will carry you through a tough workout by making small meaningful gestures. Without them, who can you count on to supply you with a gel when you forget one? Or give you their spare water bottle when yours is empty? Or transport the smelly layers of clothes you've removed half way through a ride and put them in their car without complaint? Or drop back to help you push through a tough ride? These are the people that will make your tri experience a success and your training bearable. These are your peeps.

Planned training time: 15:32
Actual time: 13:40


  1. Speaking TRUTH to TRAINING in 20 tips. You are amazing.

  2. I wish I were closer to you. I would love to be your peep. I need a funny running partner. And I KNOW you would fit that....

  3. I am happy to say I have learned some of these lessons on my own and I am taking note of the lessons I haven't experienced personally - yet. Thanks for the primer! Keep on laughing 'cause it's just good medicine for whatever ails you.

  4. I always carry more gel than I need. That way, I can give some to the hapless runner who loses hers in the middle of the race. :) (Seriously--that happened once, and it felt really good to be able to help someone out.) (It didn't feel so good several miles later, when I *needed* that gel I'd given away ... which is one reason I now carry more than I need!)

  5. P.S. The "code word" to post my last comment was "poople." Thought you'd get a kick out of that. :)