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It’s All Relative

August 9, 2012 Fitness No Comments

I can run 20 miles. Yeah, that number kind of shocks me, too. I went out to Sawyer Camp Trail two weeks ago for a long run and let my mind wander as my feet plodded forward. I purposely don’t run with music; it’s a good chance to stay in tune with what my body is telling me. For these long runs, I set my Garmin to a screen that only shows my heart rate and I just keep putting one foot in front of the other. I know that’s how it will be at Ironman, so I’m not getting attached to a pace or a time or anything other than how I feel. “Active meditation,” if you will.

As I got to the 2.5 mile marker, I looked at it and remembered it used to be a milestone for me. It was halfway to five miles. FIVE WHOLE MILES. That *used* to be a long run for me! I remember the sense of accomplishment I felt after running five miles. How hard it was, how good it felt to have done it. And I remember feeling that way after every milestone after that — 6 miles, 7 miles … double digits!

In the scheme of 20 miles, 2.5 is nothing at this stage of the Ironman training game. The stiffness has been worked out and yet things don’t really hurt yet. I don’t need food. It’s long division if I’m doing fractions in my head (“I’m 1/8th of the way done. Just do that same thing 7 more times and it’s over.”). On the one hand, it’s hardly worth noticing. On the other, it is a badge of honor for every mile I have put in since then. For every time I have passed that 2.5 mile marker and kept going.

Further Proof

This relativity has been a fun and interesting thing to contemplate during my training because it’s all relative. Sure, I can swim a couple of miles at one time and ride 100 miles and run 20… But that’s all at a pace meant for long distance.

This past weekend, we had to do a “Tempo Brick” that consisted of a 30 minute run at 5K pace (fast), a 45 minute bike ride at lactate threshold (hard), and finish with a 20 minute run at aerobic threshold (less hard). Considering the prior weekends’ workout plans, this one looked easy! In fact, it looked so easy I didn’t take it seriously. Big mistake.

Oh, I did the workout to the letter. I pushed as hard as I could with the idea that “I can do anything for 30/45/20 minutes.” That statement is true: I can and I did. But it hurt worse than a lot of my long workouts have hurt. I thought that all my sprint interval workouts would make me invincible for short distance events. I know now that that isn’t what they were designed to do. They were designed to make my body work more efficiently over long distances. I stand, quite winded, corrected.

This was a very good and effective training day mentally and physically. I absolutely respect the short workouts more than I did before. Shorter distance doesn’t mean less hard.

Everything is relative.

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