This year I turned 40 which unless you are my friends who like to tease me, really isn’t that old. However, I have been doing triathlon in some way shape or form since late 1980’s. So in that respect I am getting pretty long in the tooth with endurance sports.
This year has been one of my toughest years I have had, I have been battling injuries in my lower legs for several years, and this year they have really come to a head. I have calcification in both achillies tendons and something called Haglund’s deformity. It’s like a bone spur on the back of your heel that then rubs and irritates the achillies so much in defense the achillies build up calcium (bone) in the tendon and it hurts. BTW it’s really brought on from tight calves so as a side note, keep stretching!
I have had an amazing team around me trying to help keep me in the game but there just hasn’t been the opportunities to train at the level I usually do on the run in regards to intensity at all this year and it’s showed. I kept telling myself that it didn’t matter so much because at IM I didn’t need to run fast, I needed to run strong. That’s true in the race but I think my economy and motivation were really impacted. I think this was for several reasons.
At first I was pretty disappointed on how my season was unfolding. Last year I was ranked #1 in the World for the AWA rankings for 70.3 (although I would argue I was top 5 actually) I was at the top. This year, it was a battle all year. You race long enough, everyone will have an off time. This was my time. That being said, I really tried to take inventory of WHY and learn what I could so I could learn as a coach. I learned a few very important lessons this year.
First, I walked a lot in my marathons this year. A lot. I have often told my athletes who plan for this you have to plan for the walk, but I now fully feel the impact of having to walk. You HAVE to build walk fitness if you think you are going to walk. You have to. The muscles you use are very different. The only thing I could relate it to is it was like trying to ride a bike with a new fit on race day. Even if it’s a better fit, you aren’t going to be used to it and are going to be quite sore.
My father is a 14+ hour finisher. I would have him cut grass, work around the house, and then go start his run training for the day. I wanted him to practice being active all day. I still think that is a good way to get ready but please build some walking into your training. If nothing else if you are fit to walk you can walk 2-4 min faster per mile then someone who hasn’t! it doesn’t seem like a big deal but if you are going to walk 10+ miles its almost an hour faster.
The second thing I think I really learned is I have been too focused on Ironman for too long and the distance while very hard, isn’t providing the stimulus I need to keep getting better. It’s hard to go backwards in distance which is why short course guys coming across our way have it better, but I think I am getting to the point I need to rebuild shorter fitness (even if I do an ironman next year I want to explore that. I also think that why my body is breaking down. I have done 10 Ironman races in the past 5 years and that doesn’t even include all the training I have done.
In general, you tend to work a program until it doesn’t, then you have to make a change. That is the power of having an attentive coach. I have always been low maintenance, I don’t ask for a lot from people who are helping me, but I will now for a while. I want to look into how I respond to different things and what changes I need to make and trust some new processes.