Progress is More Important than Performance

Some of the activities I have dabbled in as part of my Marathon training:

  • Treadmill run at home
  • Sprint Triathlon 5K run
  • Outdoor training run
  • Treadmill run at a hotel (while traveling for work)
  • 5k race
  • Longest run to-date (16 miles)

I realize now that my thoughts have transferred from “can I do this” to “how do I optimize this particular training moment.”

Sprint Triathlon

I decided to take on a Sprint Triathlon to break up the tedious training and push myself to try (or “tri” if you are into puns) something new. I have done one olympic triathlon with Team in Training a number of years ago but I wasn’t really focused on fitness and healthy eating, etc. so life is a bit different now.

The biggest fear is around the open water swim. I am a good swimmer and feel really good in the water. The first open water swim that I did with the Jersey Girls Multisport team on a Wednesday on the calm beach of Belmar, NJ was terrifying. It’s not like I haven’t scuba dived or snorkled before. Hell, the water was even warm. I was panicking and it took me a solid 15 minutes just to get past the wave breaks. Everyone else seems so confident and happy and bouyant. I felt like I was the edible prize of the group for any passing fish.

During the race itself the swim was the easiest part; except for that moment where you realize mid-swim that you still have a lot of work to do before you are done. When I approached my bike and my neatly organized transition area I found that my bike helmet didn’t want to secure. I didn’t know how to adequately fix it and I just tried to push it onto my head as hard as possible. Not ideal and I am pretty sure this will be an area I obsess over for all future races.

I am a slow rider. My bike is a hybrid, not a “typical” cycle bike for speed but that’s not the reason I am slow. I don’t feel confident on the bike and I just know as long as I keep my legs moving and adjust the gears to benefit me on the ride (i.e. make it easier on me) then I will get through. All of the progress I made in the water slowly gets eaten up as people start to pass me. Thankfully I have a pretty strong negative split 5K and I know that as long as my legs are moving and I can hydrate then I will be good to go. I would suggest practicing eating and drinking on the bike. That’s an interesting experience in terms of balance. Interesting like being on your tiptoes on the edge of a cliff.  

Focused on my bike helmet and feeling slightly stressed about the ride

I remember listening to a podcast with Katherine Switzer  and she had said her run really starts around 18 minutes. I find that I tell myself this everytime I feel that initial struggle on a run. Get to mile 2 and then you can complain a little. I rarely feel that pull to stop after 2 miles in. I may not always be feeling “wow, this is amazing and I just love running,” but I don’t immediately want to turn around, enter my apartment and fall into the couch with the remote either. I will take this as a win. Per Newton’s 1st law – an object in motion stays in motion. Unless acted upon by an unbalanced force such as a lazy mind. When my mind is lazy I tend to fight back by arguing internally through a motivational monologue. By the time we have come to a consensus I might have hit 4 miles. Whatever works.

The feeling of accomplishment. Another challenge, another completion. 

I have realized the most important thing for any race whether it’s a triathlon or a 5k is to have a mind that is focused and desires the completion. Something I have been watching on repeat is the video below. No joke, sometimes I will just play it when I am taking a quick food/drink break on an outdoor run or while running on the treadmill. Like a defibrillator to the heart, sometimes you need something to spark a change of sentiment in your mind.


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