Tuesday was my first "hard" workout of the new season. In December I had some speed work and a few hill intervals but nothing close to a trainer workout that brings on the deep burning in my quads that I crave. I had e-mailed Eric Monday morning letting him know that I was only able to get in a 40 minute run on Thursday & Friday because of networking meetings that I had in Portland and asking if he wanted me to add some extra time to Monday's 40 minute zone 2 run. His response was not to worry, that getting in what I could over a stressful couple days was terrific and to be ready for Tuesday because it would be "a hard day." With that statement I smiled and was excited for what my training peaks account would reveal.
Tuesday I had two workouts scheduled, an hour and 15 minute trainer ride and a swim workout with a moderate half hour continuous swim. The trainer ride was what I have been craving, a brief warm up followed by a 5 minute build to zone 4b, then 45 minutes of zone 4a riding! Quadzilla was hungry and needed to be fed, 45 minutes in zone 4a was just what the doctor ordered. Sweating away like aqua-man in a sauna I had an epiphany about why sweating my butt off, legs burning and heart rate soaring makes me smile so much.
Sport gives the individual the rare opportunity to test one's physical limits, there comes a time in every tough workout where one's body wants to quit, at that time the mind and heart can either push past that pain, soak in the challenge and push on, or the mind can succumb to adversity and falter. In our everyday lives it is rare that we have the opportunity to truly test what our bodies are capable of. As my legs were burning on that trainer, it took every ounce of mental fortitude I had to push through the pain and to relish in the opportunity to see what my body was capable of. There are few other things in life that give us the opportunity for that challenge.
Then during my second workout of the day yesterday a much different challenge was presented. Eric wanted me to swim continuously for a ½ hour (in a freaking pool), which is about as much fun as having every hair on my body plucked out with tweezers one by one. Triathlon also presents the challenge of slowing down the body, letting off the gas when the body wants to push as hard as it can. For a ½ hour continuous swim my mind has to force my body to slow down, as bored as I was plodding along at a medium effort, swimming 500s on a 9 minute pace I knew I couldn't complete the workout if I pushed any harder. The test of restraint is a lot harder in many respects than the test of pushing through adversity, which is what makes this sport so neat.
Of course the challenge to push through or the challenge to hold back can be trumped by blood sugar management. I have control over my mind and body when my blood sugars are in line with what I need to work out, but in the times when my glucose levels are off, diabetes prevents me from challenging myself. For me the hardest test is to know when to say when, whether it is a twinge in my hamstring or a reading of 105 on my blood sugar meter I have to know when to walk away. The confidence to say today is not my day and I need to live to SBR another day is maybe the biggest lesson I have learned from triathlon and that challenge of mind over ego is one of the most interesting.