Being fit and healthy is of major importance to me. This encompasses many aspects, as it is only up to a point that the two go hand in hand. Being healthy in all aspects of mind and body sets a strong platform from which fitness can be built, but focusing too much on physical fitness can lead to a decline in health. Whether that be by a lowered immune system, psychological or otherwise. In short, while training and racing form a large part of life, and I do identify myself as a triathlete, it should not become my whole life. I have gone down that road in the past. It isn't healthy.
So why Ironman? Why don't I just choose something more achievable, that doesn't take up so much time? It would be easy to answer this with one of the following lines:
Because it is Ironman.
If you have to ask, then you will never
Because it is there.
Because it isn't easy
I don't think any of these lines answer the question properly. I also know that I probably can't fully explain why I endeavour to do the Ironman. Yes it is a hard event. Yes it takes a lot of planning and effort to prepare for, but it is also achievable. I don't think I choose it because it is the hardest event in the world. I remember watching the coverage of one the Hawaiian Ironman races where Paula Newby Fraser mentions that the physical side is very doable if you put in the training, but it is the mental side that is the challenge. My physiology is more suited to endurance racing than team sports and sprint events. Maybe it is because it something I can be good at, yet it still remains a big challenge. I do like a challenge.
Enhancing my confidence (or ego) seems to play a large part. There is definitely a degree of satisfaction felt from achieving something that many people think is crazy. While the number of people completing Ironman races around the world is increasing, it is still only a very small percentage of the population that will ever achieve this. I do feel good knowing that I can ride a bike for a distance longer than many people will find comfortable covering in their car.
Ironman is the perfect vehicle to enhance the understanding of the human body. I have long been interested in how the body works. Through my studies and work I have covered how the body works and reacts in normal conditions, during exercise, in extreme environments, in trauma and disease states. It fascinates me. In training and racing I can treat myself as an experiment of one (a tip of the hat goes to Commander John Collins for that phrase). I can see how different training regimens, nutrition protocols and other race plans affect race day performance and essentially how my body reacts. Get only one area wrong, and your day may be very long. The perfect race probably isn't truly achievable, but striving for perfection is a goal in itself.
That leads to the next question. Is it about the journey or the destination? In short, I think it is predominantly about the journey. Surely the journey doesn't just end on race day. In fact I know it doesn't. To me, proof of this fact is I have already completed 4 Ironman races and yet I still come back for more. I feel I have unfinished business out there on the course. Exactly what it will take to feel completely satisfied, I don't know, but for the most part I am enjoying trying to find out.
Where to now? To move away from my usual analysis of every aspect I can think of approach to discussing my training plan, I am going to focus on one clear goal. Without achieving this key aspect of training, all other details become almost irrelevant. The key is consistency. I need to get out there every day and put in the kilometres. Discussions on intensity zones, power outputs, speeds, specific nutrition, etc. are just icing on the cake. I need to see entries in the training journal filling in every square. I'll take the Selly's approach, "no more gaps."
This morning my weight was back on track, my nutrition seemed to be right and my digestive system was behaving itself. It was time to put an entry into that first square. So before work I hopped on the turbo-trainer and put quite a few revolutions into the legs, finishing off with some plyometrics and strength work. It's good to be back into it.
“The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.” - Albert Einstein