Sunday, February 21, 2010

Week Twelve: I think I can see the light...

This weeks summary is going to be short because if truth be known, I am exhausted. I have been told that this was the hardest week of my training cycle, and I am holding on to those words to help get me through the next 55 days until the Half Ironman race.

This week's challenges were mostly in the run and the bike segments. The New Orleans Rock N Roll Half Marathon is next Sunday, so this was the last chance to get in some long runs in preparation for the race. I had some pent up anxiety all week as I entered into some long training days. I've only had one or two 8-9 mile runs so far and was losing confidence in my ability to complete another long run. I had a few medium length runs (6-8 miles) early to mid week, intermixed with some Fartlek workouts and some hills to throw in a bit more of a challenge. The final long run came on Saturday when I had one last chance to hit my pre-race training goal of 10 miles before I am to race in the half-marathon. By Saturday, the weeks training was taking a toll and I was pretty tired. I did manage somehow to HTFU (see abbreviation post) and push through the fatigue to get those ten miles in within my goal time frame of 1:45:00, giving me a 10:30 pace. It may not have been super-fast or super-pretty, but it was completed. And I now have some screwed up toenails to show for the effort. And the confidence that I can do this.

Soap Box: Understanding "Mental Toughness"

Chrissie Wellington, Triple World Ironman Champ, and my example of Mental Toughness

“Anyone who has a continuous smile on her face conceals a toughness that is almost frightening.” Greta Garbo

I've been hearing the words "mental toughness" thrown around a lot over the past 12 weeks by my coach whenever I seem to be struggling with a fear, or I'm losing my focus, or I'm just getting frustrated with my performance. I thought I knew what it meant to be mentally tough, in fact I thought I was mentally tough, but I realize now that you have to work on strengthening your mental muscles just like you do your physical ones. There are people who spend their careers studying mental toughness and teaching it to athletes in order to make them more successful in their sport. It is a skill that some have naturally, and others have to learn. There is a world of information floating around about how to enhance this skill and there seems to be many common ideas in how to develop it. I thought I would spend a minute sharing what I've learned:

What is mental toughness? Mental toughness is having the natural or developed psychological edge that enables you to cope better than your opponents with the many demands (e.g. competition, training, lifestyle) that are placed on you as a performer ~ specifically, to be more consistent and better than your opponents in remaining determined, focused, confident, resilient, and in control under pressure (Jones et al, 2002).

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Week Ten and Eleven: Oh the Callouses...

Well, I am hitting the hard weeks of training now. The focus seems to be on endurance and has been requiring lots of perseverance to stick with it and make it through the training. The days of leisurely one hour rides are gone, replaced with three hour and longer endurance rides. My chafing has chafing and my blisters have blisters. And now I am being told that soon I will have to ditch my comfy padded biking shorts in order to train in my race attire, the light chamois lined tri shorts I have. Ouch.