Friday, March 28, 2014

Mental Strength Is NOT Overrated

I entered week 12 of Ironman Chattanooga training this week. By any account, it is going just as expected and planned. No major setbacks, no mayor obstacles to overcome (hope I didn't jinx myself).  Only small issue that has had to be addressed, is being addressed, and it deals with a slight, uncomfortable, grinding sensation in my left knee. Otherwise... all's well.

As also predicted, the mental games are beginning to creep in. Not as much as "can I do this?", but "maybe I shouldn't be doing this". I have even caught myself thinking "I'm too old for this."

My advise to anyone going through this is to always remember "why" they're doing this. Having a "why" well identified and extremely well defined is of foremost importance.

As most of you know, for I have not kept it a secret, and I'm pretty open about it, the swim is my Achilles heel. Each time I get in the pool, lake or river, I work hard. Doesn't  mean I like it, means I have to and I respect it.

Today the alarm went off at 4:00 a.m. as it does every morning. Unlike every morning, I did not jump out of bed automatically. I tossed and turned for some 7 minutes. I didn't want to get up. But I did.  I immediately fixed my cup of coffee, as I always do because I am a person of habits. I procrastinated getting ready to leave for the pool. I can tell you that today, I was not looking forward to my swim. Can't tell you why, however.

I left the house about 5 minutes later than I usually do. Again, I was procrastinating. But I left. Drove to the Y and parked. Waited 2 minutes for the door to open. In the mean time I finished my now cold coffee.  The front door opened and I got out of my car. Opened the back door to get my swim gear out and what do I see? An empty seat.  Yes, I had left my swim bag at home.

Drove back home all along thinking "this is not meant to be today". I honestly looked for options. "I could just stay home now, its gonna be late. I can come back this afternoon and do my swim then". "yes, I have a plan. that's what I'll do."

But then the very moment I got home, I automatically grabbed the bag. Didn't think twice about it. Returned to my car and drove back to the Y.

It was 5:30 a.m. when I finally hit the water, 20 minutes later than usual. I had a 2500 yd swim.

I have learned that when I get to the pool deck, I just stretch my arms and jump in the water. I have learned not to think twice about it. That same thing I did today.

Once in the water it becomes automatic. I do my drills, I swim my laps.

Today it felt good, really, really good. My stroke was smooth, and I felt that I was moving. Perhaps not any faster than usual, but it felt good.

1 hour and 5 minutes. That's how long it took me to finish today. I was happy.

My mind tried to push me today. I could have very easily stayed home and pretended I was going to swim in the afternoon. No one knows if I would have. Perhaps the all day long guilt of missing my morning swim would have been enough to get me to the pool in the afternoon, perhaps not.

I suspect this is not the last time I will have to battle this. I have to be ready, again.