I was happy, but my stomach wasn't...
The mountain I run on my long runs in the beauty of the early evening light
It has been a quiet week, with Duncan being away on a school trip and only Spencer and me at home. I was determined to catch up on reading, spend some quality time with the puppy (and start his training) and of course get some good hours in, especially after last week's reality check on the bike.
I was mostly successful, though this week really highlighted for me just how much more fun things are when you share them. Spencer and I got into a good routine, getting up before 6, playing/walking and running outside then having breakfast. He would then spend many hours on his own at home, while I was at work. The evenings were similar, we would walk, run and play, then eat and collapse in a heap at the end of the day. Living a dog's life is simple and almost meditative. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I managed to fit in 10:30 hours of training this week - unfortunately a few hours less than my training programme ordered, yet on reflection every single session was very focused - quality miles if I may say so. Swimming hours suffered again this week, but hopefully I will be able to make that up this week.
A wave of tiredness hit me by Wednesday and I felt unable to do my long run. After a lot of to and fro-ing and some very good advice from Jack, a successful IM athlete and coach, I took the day off and rested and then did my ride and long run the next day, fresh and happier. Still... the run didn't go as planned: the energy drink that I had chosen caused me to feel pretty sick from about 40 mins on and my stomach felt bloated and a little bit too full of liquid to make the run enjoyable. I should, on reflection, have known as the same energy drink had caused me to feel pretty bad on Tuesday at the pool, but I thought that diluting would have been enough of a solution. I was proven wrong and will not be touching that flavour and brand again. Even so, I finished the run and didn't feel all that bad afterwards or in fact the day after - apart from an overriding desire to eat everything that came in sight (and a lot of things that didn't).
I have been reading a lot about learning lately, as well as going to a conference and today, during my 4 hour ride a had a mini-epiphany. In life (and it applies to all things, from school, to relationships to IM training) learning does not come merely from practice, but from reflection of that practice. What I mean is, mindlessly putting in miles, or in a school context doing long division, will not give you the skills. The skills come from reflection on the practice, and more conscious learning. I discussed this with Duncan and he brought up the example of his swimming, which has improved a lot this year, and how constant reflection has been the moving force.
And some I move forward, to Challenge -12 weeks. Today's brick is starting to give me the confidence that I will be able to do the training I need. My 1 hour run off the bike felt very good, the pace was solid and my feet felt light (especially after the first 30 mins). In the same time I managed to go 2 extra kms than I did a month ago on one of my long runs! Don't you just love improvement!
Reflecting on my improvement, I spent some time reading my blog entries from last year. It's like a different person writing! I am pain free and training in a way that I honestly thought was impossible a year ago. I feel strong again, in body and in mind.
Next week I have a triathlon race coming up, my first in nearly 2 years. I am excited beyond belief and despite the fact that it is a sprint (and I have no top speed in my legs at all...) I am looking forward to getting out there and putting myself on that start line. That will be my win!