Thoughts on Half Ironman Training

When I was looking for a new challenge, I signed up for Ironman Miami 70.3 in April of this year.  I hired a coach, underwent lactate threshold testing, and began training in May.  I knew it would be a lot, but I never realized how grueling it would be on my body and on my mind.  By the time August rolled around, I was burnt out.  I was tired of the constant training and stress and having to plan my social life around when I could fit in a three-hour bike ride.

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I continued with my training the best I could.  “It’s only three months,” I told myself.  “You can do anything for three months.”  And think about how amazing you will feel when you cross the finish line.

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The end of August rolled around and my body had just about had it with my training regimen.  My IT band problems began to act up, my heel hurt, my calf and achilles were sore, and my back was tight.  It was then that I decided to sign up for Ironman Silverman 70.3, which takes place at the beginning of October, as opposed to the end of October.  “Six weeks,” I told myself. “You can get through the next six weeks.”

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I decided not to continue training with my coach, but to follow some online training plans and get advice from my physical therapist, who has competed in Ironman events before.  I knew it would be tough, but I had to power through.

Today it is September 11.  My race is October 5.  That is 23 days away.  I never imagined that training for a half ironman would be so incredibly difficult mentally and physically.  I could tell you guys that I am dominating my training—that I wake up every day with the motivation to hit the road or jump in the pool.  But that would be a lie.  

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I am 100% worn out.  I dread my workouts.  My knees hurt.  I doubt myself.  I question why I ever signed up for such a grueling event.  I consider pulling out.   I cry.  I worry I will make the time cutoff.  My achilles hurts.  I get angry at myself.  But somehow I keep going and am able to convince myself that after 4 months of training, I must not give up.

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I write this because I want everyone to know that I am human and this is the reality that I am currently dealing with.  On Sunday, I will be competing in the Malibu Triathlon and I hope that it will remind me why I am doing what I am doing.  I will keep you all updated on my training over the next three weeks.  I have one more week of intensity and then will be tapering to prepare my body for the race.  Life is about overcoming obstacles and challenging yourself and that is exactly what I am doing.

2 Comments

  1. Stephanie Doyon
    September 12, 2014

    I totally understand and I would be lying if I told you that the 6 months I trained prior to my first 70.3 in June were the best, that I liked everyone of my workout, that I would wake up eager to train everyday. At the end of the day you have to remind yourself why you decide to do it. I had trouble reminding myself that I was doing it for myself and that the people around me telling me I would win cause I trained so hard, I should take a break were just noises and non-necessary added pressure. There’s no secret to getting through those last weeks. It’s where it’s the most challenging because the day is approaching, you feel the pressure, your body is tired and you feel like you should do more because you don’t think you’re ready. Trust yourself, trust that you have done enough over the past months. Especially if you’ve followed a structured program. Would you really be proud of yourself if you quit now instead of pushing one last time? Ready or not, it’s gonna hurt during the race! (Sorry!) But the feeling when you cross that finish line (Because you will) is just indescribable. As for injuries, there is no miracle remedy. 5 weeks ago I got hit by a car and I had to take 6 days completely off because my knee was injured, I thought it would completely ruined my chance of doing well at Worlds. It’s hard to accept it, but it definitely strengthen your mental. Which is good because the running part is half physical half mental! I would just recommend that you take 3-4 days off from biking and running and get in the pool (Pull a lot, stretch, foam roll and relax!) Lastly, try to find people to go on runs or bike ride with you. Let’s say you have to run 1h30 tell someone you’ll pick them up halfway through your run or bike ride, like that you don’T get bored and you still get a good training! Hope it helps 🙂

    Steph

    Reply
    • dempsey
      September 18, 2014

      Ahhh thank you SO SO SO much!!! It’s good to know that what I’m experiencing is normal 🙂 I know I’ve put in the work and at this point I just have to trust that I’ve done enough. It’s really about the journey. If I don’t finish, I don’t finish and I’ll try again next time. You’ve been KILLING your races. I need some of your secrets to help me get my speed up 😉

      Reply

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