11 Weeks to Ironman Lake Placid: Train the Brian

Ironman Lake Placid training ride

What happens today and how I handle the time over the next 77 days will be directly related to how I handle race day. Training is more than just physical. It’s about how you handle the training and even about how you handle the time when you’re not training. Stick with me, hopefully I will make sense.

I met up with one my Ironman Lake Placid training friends this morning at 7:30am for our scheduled 5.5 hour ride and run. One of the ladies I highly admire from one of my training groups. Ten minutes into our we ride stopped to change a flat tire due to a tiny piece of glass.  That was no big deal and it was a chance to practice something that could happen on the course. Better early in the ride than mid-ride. It was humid and by mid-day the sun was beating down. Weather is just part of the course though too so I look forward to riding in all sorts of different weather conditions. It’s all good practice because we never know what we’re going to get on race day. The first 3 1/2 hours flew by quickly and I felt great. Ellen is someone who brings positive energy and inspiration to each ride. I was fortunate to be able to ride with her. As we rode into the fourth hour that’s when things started to change. The challenge set in and I wasn’t sure if it was from how long we had gone or from hill after hill…after hill…after hill…you get the picture.  My friend who left 7 months ago entered my mind on each and every hill. It was equally comforting and frustrating. She rode hills with me before my first Ironman and I haven’t been able to get on my bike this year without thinking of her. A little anger built up at this point adding to my challenge.  I knew I had a choice to either be angry at something I can not change or be grateful that she entered my life.

“Oh my gosh…We still have 2.5 hours to go.” went through my mind on one of the hills. I quickly rephrased that thought to “Four hours down…We only have 2.5 hours to go!” Did you know that the words we use have a direct impact on our belief systems, experiences and outcomes?. Learning to rephrase our words has the ability to make an experience entirely different based on how we talk to ourselves.  Positive words and our thinking patterns we use have the ability to affect our bodies and minds, even down to affecting endorphins and oxytocin allowing the body the ability to achieve the goal much more easily.  I love Mark Twain’s quote “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” So true. I repeated new thoughts over the next half hour to shift my mindset until I settled back in.  I have no idea if Ellen knows I was struggling over that hour but she gave me two options. 1) Take the easier route which also trims off some time on the end. 2) Go the original planned route.  I didn’t have to think about it.  I don’t have the option of which route I want to take on race day so I was not going to allow myself an option today. “Let’s go the full route, Ellen!!” Once we reached 5 hours I was in the zone again and good to go. I ended up riding 6 hours exactly by the time I biked home followed by a short 20 minute run. Exhausted tonight yet feeling accomplished.

Perhaps one of the most important thing we can work on at this point is to train the mind. To believe, to have confidence, and to obtain a positive mindset.  I will celebrate the victories and not dwell on the defeats.  I will expect challenges and figure out plans to conquer them.  I will face challenges with courage and know that they don’t last forever. Ironman is one day. One day when we have no choice but to live in the moment and trust the accumulation of hours, days, and months of work.  And trust ourselves.  More than anything, I want Ironman Lake Placid MMRF Team for Cures to go smoothly.  Free from distraction. There is no room for worry or self doubt. Not now or on race day. Training is training.  Training the brain is as important as training the body.  Training the brain teaches our body to respond more effectively to difficult situations.  It’s slowly pushing your limits so you learn and grow as a triathlete and in every day life.

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