Sunday, July 31, 2011

Building A House

The next (third) installment of the Motivation Series.  Here you can find the first (failing in order to succeed) and second (don't sabotage yourself) installments.

I was finishing a tempo run with my local running group when Gilbert eased up next to me and egged me into completing the last quarter mile at his side.  Mind you, he was barely breathing, and I was, well, breathing enough for the both of us, when he stepped on the gas, just a little, and tightened the screws.  Here we go...

I have a heart rate above which my breakfast feels like it's going to jump down onto the tops of my shoes.  The screws tightened just enough and over the last quarter mile I went there.  Luckily my breakfast didn't.

When we pulled up, Gilbert said "good, you can race now."  I said "can I vomit now instead?"  His response "you mean build a house."

Huh?  On both our parts.  He thought I knew what he was talking about and I had no idea what he was talking about.

The story goes that the really good African runners know that leaving Africa and winning a big race can mean the difference between a life of anonymous poverty and lauded fortune.  Or the difference between living in a hut and ... building a house.  For her/himself, for their mother, their brother, and the mayor.  So when these runners vomit during a workout, their training partners say "so-and-so is building a house."

As in, s/he is putting in the hard, painful work necessary to win the big races that bring the money that builds the house.

Apparently, a little vomit goes a long way.

I am also told that if there are multiple rounds of vomit during a single session, the house grows is height.  "So-and-so built their first story."  "There, you earned your second story." 

Now I am not advocating doing workouts until you throw up, or that make you throw up.  But I do advocate doing the work that pushes limits, that pegs the good ol' vomit-o-meter, even if only for a quarter mile.  Because the benefits of finding your limits and pushing past are exactly what you make (of) them. 

These Africans train with a singular focus - building a house, a stable future - and push their limits in order to provide it for their family.  Identify your own goal and push your limits to that end. 


How many stories does your dream house have?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Beating The Heat With A Stick

WARNING: You might envy or no longer respect my life-style after reading this post. 

It's hot here.  Really hot.  Pretty much every day.  And has been pretty much every day.  For a while now.

For the skeptics and numbers-people out there: 99 degrees Fahrenheit or above every day since June 27, 2011.  That's a full month.  If you look back to June 1, we've had only 10 days below 99 degrees Fahrenheit.

I'm actually digging the permanent heat wave.  It's enjoyable to go outside and have my muscles and joints already be pliant, to not need a warm-up, because, honestly, they have been warm since I stepped off the plane.  So much better than those crisp mornings and days when fingers and toes are frozen and torsos are sweating, when knees and vertebrae creak well into a session, because temperatures hover between one layer of clothing and another.  Instead, I know I'm descending into an oven and simply prepare for the roasting.

Cooking Instructions: Coat liberally with olive oil.  Pierce surface at regular intervals with fork or knife point.

The down side of the permanent heat wave is the hours I have been forced to keep.  Well, assuming I want to hit my workouts, because certain workouts are sabotaged - and I mean taken out Nancy Kerrigan-style at the knees - by the heat.  So rather than clothing selection (pretty much always as little as possible), scheduling sessions within days has become my guessing game.  The hours before 8 AM are precious gifts from Mother Nature, not to be slept through with college-student-like abandon or wasted on recovery efforts.  The afternoons are for recovery, gym and treadmill work, or sun-screening-slathered bike rides.

The schedule I've come up with - ok, fallen into out of necessity and the drain of humidity - is essentially two separate training days per one cosmic day.  Right now masters swimming is arm-wrestling running for precious pre-dawn hours so most days I get up between 4:45 and 5:15, stumble into either a swim suit or running shoes, train, and stumble back into bed.  Two to four hours later, I wake up again, late enough to feel like I'm enjoying college hours, HA!, and prepare for my afternoon sessions.

This morning I ate my breakfast on a picnic table next to a port-a-potty in a running store parking lot, about twenty minutes after sunrise, ten minutes after finishing a tempo run, and fifteen minutes before falling back into bed for 2.5 more hours.  After an equally dazed second breakfast, I made my way to the gym and then spent the afternoon coming to grips that somehow it is Thursday when I barely remember Monday, and catching up on the week, the bulk of which I slept through or sweated away.

It sounds luxurious.  It sure doesn't feel it, though.  The physical wear and tear seems to be no worse under this schedule; I've never been such a consistent and champion napper!  But the mental side, oy, it's one big mind meld.  Some days the morning sessions aren't much more than foggy memories by the time I am eating lunch - "did I really do that? wait...what did I actually do?"  I never take a full shower, because why waste the time and water when the next session is only a nap away.  It feels like I'm eating around the clock.  I'm waking up (albeit for the second time) closer to noon more often than I ever have, so it seems like I'm only getting half the day and am always behind with life and errands etc...despite eeking every second's worth out of the pre-dawn hours.  

I always said they sold crazy on the street corners when the heat got really bad in DC.  I just never expected it be this wild-eyed, what-day-is-it type of crazy I've got going on right now.

In other news, the goats, well two of three, have gone to a better place. {a moment of silence, please}

The Support Staffers decided the miscreants had crashed through their last chicken house door and sent them to join the circus.  Or rather the rambunctious goat equivalent of the circus: another farm where the inmates have more run of the asylum. 



A Fond Farewell to Willy and Wee Willy...we will miss having to protect our hair, fingers, embroidery, and tractor keys from you.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

When You're Going Through Hell...

The next (second) installment of the motivation series.  The first one can be found here.

Have you ever found this stream of thoughts playing out in your head?

Here I am, running off the bike...I started riding after swimming so now it's mid-afternoon and it's so much hotter than when I normally choose to run...my brain is already frying like an egg...it's too hot to run as hard as I am supposed to....there's no way I'm going to hit my pace goals...this is going to hurt...i have done so much hard work already today...just sticking to this pace would be so much easier...this last little bit isn't really that important...especially after the work I've already done...yeah...it doesn't matter...la la la...

And thusly you have negotiated yourself out of the (majority of the) entire point of the workout: to get yourself good and warmed-up and tired with hard work, and then throw more (race specific or race prep) hard work at your body.  That is how training works in a broader sense....

Think of it this way: compound interest.  You can't get the interest without the principal, and today's interest becomes tomorrow's principal.  You can't get as much of the intended benefit from the run (meaning as done off the bike, instead of just as a stand-alone session) without the hard work that came earlier on the bike (and in the swim).  

Don't cheat yourself out of profits. The next time you find yourself having the above conversation with...yourself, politely interrupt the dia-monologue and ask "when is the next time I will be right here, with all this hard work already in my body, and able to choose how much interest I earn on my investment?"

Because you know what they say....when you're going through hell, keep going.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Racine 70.3: The One Where I Ripped The Nail Off My Big Toe And Made Myself Vomit

Another weekend, another 70.3 miles, some more hits, but always a few misses.

Hit: Not wanting the race to be over after 200m of the swim.

Hit: Actually getting into the middle of the second swim pack and staying there, the entire time.  I remember thinking I'm actually swimming with people?! I have to stay here.  And I did, quite comfortably.  As opposed to last week where I was alone pretty much from the gun.

Hit: Much colder than, but as flat as, bath-tub water.  So much colder that I lost feeling in my feet.

Miss: The 200 yard bare-foot slog through dry sand between the water's edge and the timing mat.  Easily the hardest, most painful part of the entire day.  And demoralizing as I was passed by all the people behind me in the second swim pack.

Miss: Ripping my big toe nail off by putting on my right bike shoe.  It was already dead due to a blood blister, but it went from 'there' to 'not there' a lot faster and sooner than anticipated.  The Googles tell me such an occurrence is "evulsion."  There's the thing you'll learn today.

Hit: Not falling over on the hill immediately out of T1.

Miss: There is little I can think to say that would suffice as an adequate description of just how bad the roads were and still avoid claims of hyperbole.  ....If every crack, seam, and divot was 3 inches deep - not an unrealistic estimate based on how jarring repeatedly slamming into them felt - then my front wheel climbed Mt. Everest.  Fortunately, I was riding an ISM saddle; otherwise, my undercarriage would have suffered as much as my front fork did.

Hit: Spending the bike leg thinking and feeling like I was struggling and going slow, only to find out later that my bike split was similar to the other female pros'.

Miss: Whoever described this bike course as flat was flat out lying.

Miss: Coming off the bike with a stomach that wasn't processing liquid and having everything but the kitchen sink sloshing around in there.  So I pulled over around mile 3, conducted a Chinese fire-drill, and hit the nutritional re-set button.  It was going to happen one way or another; I decided it was going to happen on my terms.  Apologies to the poor spectator on the other side of the road. 
 
Miss:  Spending the run thinking and feeling like I was struggling and going slow...and knowing that I really was struggling and going slow.

Hit: Spending the weekend with my parents, Unc Paul and Aunt Dar, and the Haughs.  Jerry Haugh was my middle school tech(nical) ed(ucation) teacher and my high-school varsity soccer coach.  But only after he was in the Marine Corp so it's no surprise that I can still operate a band saw and that many of his players have gone on to be life-long and successful athletes.



Hit: KRINGLE!





Racine is the American epicenter of kringle.  O&H Bakery is the most famous on-the-ground purveyor, but the Racine Kringle, which you can buy only in grocery stores and through mail-order, is better.  I've done extensive testing since 1991 just to make sure.

Hit: iHOP pancakes post-race. 


Hit: A little more time with the goaties.

Never leave your vehicle unattended for fear of hitchhikers

And you thought I was joking about counting our fingers

And with that, the sun sets on my Hometown Tour.  Back to Tehas tomorrow.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Marathon Down Memory Lane

One of the "lay low" activities I've been doing this week is opening, sorting, and disposing of 28+ years of boxes and the "treasures" therein.  It's fascinating what we collect - and deem worthy of keeping - across a life-time of schools, travels, and adventures.  A memory I hadn't thought about in decades can come rushing back in vivid detail at just the sight of an item peaking out of a box.  For example, I still have my reading record from first grade.  Just a (thick) stack of index cards stapled one on top of the next, the record represents every time I took home a book from our classroom library to read, then returned along with another line of a index card filled with title and a parent's signature.  278 books over the course of a school year.  Now my current ransacking of the Austin public library doesn't look so out of the ordinary.

I also found these...


The shoes in which I trained for and ran my first marathon.  I bandited Boston in 2002 with a college friend, although neither of us really knew what we were doing other than that each long run needed to be longer than the previous one.  Full-time college students also putting on the annual Hasty Pudding show, we trained on negative sleep, or at least it felt like it.

These shoes weigh a TON.  Ok, actually only 12.25 ounces (with 2002 orthotics).  EACH.  

Here's what I currently wear to run marathons in.


They - Saucony Fastwitches - weigh 3.5 ounces less (8.75 ounces), each, despite being a full size larger (all the pounding will do that to feet) and containing full orthotics (instead of three-quarter length).

Thank goodness memory lane is so full of technological advances!!

And today's bonus picture, as seen on the drive from Indiana to Wisconsin:


A pick-up pulling a sizable RV pulling a pretty big fishing boat.  I think it does actually add up to 18 wheels.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Notes On A Recovery

So after I ended Muncie like this....



I ended up here...


to "end" this...

Ready...GO!
approx. 3.46 minutes later...

I had requested a stop at Bob Evans after the race even before arriving Indiana.  I for one do not enjoy pizza and Oreos at the finish line.  I grabbed a banana and some chocolate milk and hie-ed myself to breakfast food. There are six Bob Evans between Muncie and The Support Staffers' house; there are zero Bob Evans in the entire state of Texas.  As a recent disciple of Bob Evan's wheat pancakes, my dilemma over this dearth is probably best understood by fans of Waffle House driving north toward the Mason-Dixon Line.  Unfortunately, although breakfast is a great recovery meal no matter the time of day, it seems Bob's wheat pancake recipe differs from Mid-Atlantic to Midwest.  IHOP is now on the docket for Racine.

First stop on the farm, visit the menagerie.

CHICKENS!

Dumbest animals on the planet...but they give us 1-2 DOZEN eggs/day

GOAT!


INQUISITIVE GOAT!


HUNGRY GOAT!


"I don't dig on camera, that's all."

"Why not?"

"Cameras are inedible."

"But camera straps taste good."

Yummy!  [eyes closed in pure bliss]


"Compression socks taste good.  Crocs taste good."


The three of them did successfully remove one letter of embroidery from the brand-name on my shorts before I escaped.

True story: One of the goats once ate the key right out of the ignition of the tractor.  It was a very large farm-machinery paper-weight for some time.  Now we count our fingers before leaving the barn.  

Other than that, I've been lying low, very low, with a few sessions here and there to keep the engine running.  It's easier to keep it going than to restart it.  I've spent some time here...


IU's beautiful outdoor pool, where I'm told the water temp was 90dF today.  No wonder I felt like I was swimming backwards.  It may be hot in Texas, but at least we have the good sense to swim indoors.

One more day in Indiana before Ma Support Staff and I leave for Wisconsin.  Pa Support Stuff left today on his motorcycle.  I'm excited to drive north, if only because it means I am in complete control of my travel to Racine.  Bring it, Mother Nature.  Bring.It. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Muncie 70.3: The Zone 2 Workout

Short and sweet:  I was exhausted.  My legs, my arms, and most importantly, my mind didn't show up.

I wanted this race to be over after 200m of the swim.  And every 5 minutes thereafter.  At the very least I wanted to pull over and take a nap in a ditch and pick up where I had left off at a later time. 
  
Here's me wondering if I could find a place to curl up in T1

I almost ended up in a ditch, nap or not.  You know how drunk drivers often get into accidents because their liquor-dampened senses fixate on a single object or a twinkling light, and instead of steering away from it, head straight for it?  I spent the first ten miles of the bike going through every pot-hole because I would see it, think to avoid it, and completely fail/forget to do so.  I guess you could say I was so tired I was driving drunk.

Other than a bumpy ride, I couldn't produce any amount of effective output.  The worst it got I was putting out recovery watts despite a non-recovery effort, and the course's single "hill" brought me to a pitiful stand-still.

Yes, I ran and finished.  I wasn't injured or over-trained, I was just under-slept, so I plodded along, over the numerous hills and dales, and got in the volume that "racing" Muncie the weekend before Racine was intended to provide.  And because of the design of the professional qualification for Kona slots, I needed to cross the line and get the points simply for showing up.  Check, check, and check.

Basically I went out and executed a five-hour, zone 2, brick workout, during which people handed me water, ice, soda, and gatorade at pre-determined intervals.

Can I go to sleep now?

Severe weather and the fragility of domestic commercial airline industry and its aircraft had forced me to travel nearly 20 hours, arriving at 4 am and sleeping only 5 hours a night before the race.  I really should not have been as surprised by this as I was at the time; I tried to believe it was not the inevitable outcome.  I wanted so badly to deal calmly with the challenges I faced in simply getting to Munccie and despite the stress, maintain my focus on racing Muncie.  But we play our bodies like fiddles, and although I did as much damage control as I know to do, the instrument was cracked deeper than could be repaired in such a short time-frame.  I prefer to come away from races with a "lessons learned" or "thing(s) to work on," but in this case, I'm stuck with "what ifs" and excuses.  My things to work on are 1) get better drugs to make me sleep longer when I don't get to bed until 4 am, and 2) learn to predict severe weather systems before buying plane tickets.

Having said all of that, I highly recommend Muncie 70.3.  The scenery is beautiful, the organization is top-notch, and because the race is 32 years old, despite being a first-year WTC event, Muncie had none of the shakiness of a first-year race.

Friday, July 8, 2011

And The Hunter Home From The Hill

Here we go.... 

off, on another adventure.

I'm calling this adventure the Hometown Tour: two races on consecutive weekends near towns that once were or now are my (loosely defined) "hometowns."

First up, on July 9, is Muncie 70.3 in Muncie, Indiana.  Muncie is an 90 mile highway drive from where The Support Staffers now live outside Bloomington, Indiana.

The following weekend, July 17, is Racine 70.3 in Racine, Wisconsin, about an hour from Madison, Wisconsin.

Muncie is a little bit of race with a little bit of tempo, a race-simulation workout....surrounded by some of the fastest 70.3 athletes currently racing; Racine is as much race as I can dig out of my body.  Muncie is just parents; Racine is parents, some family and some friends making the trip over from Madison.  But perhaps more importantly, the Hometown Tour is an experiment in racing and recovering twice in two weeks, to see what I can and cannot handle in the crucible of speed and wear-and-tear.

But first, I have to get there.  Which is shaping up to be the third endurance event of the Hometown Tour: getting to the designated hometown.

When I checked my luggage in in Austin, my itinerary was Austin-Denver-Indy.  As I write this, twelve hours after leaving home, I have made it to Denver.  I was supposed to be in Indy four hours ago, and will (supposedly) be there in three more hours.

In the hours since I arrived here and missed my direct connection by 20 minutes, I have subsequently been re-ticketed on Kansas City-Indy and then Chicago-Indy.  I actually made it about a mile toward Chicago when my plane did leave the gate and made motions of going airborne.  However, we got caught in a severe thunderstorm on the tarmac, sat for an hour in winds that came off the Front Range and rocked our 6-seat-wide jet like a canoe, and then returned to the terminal because we no longer had enough fuel to make it more than a mile toward Chicago.  Now I'm on a direct flight that has been delayed so long, it has become my last chance to get out of DIA.

During my foraging for food, I found this statute in the tram system.  Interestingly, this statute was in the U.S. Capitol when I was in the U.S. Capitol.  I see both Jack and I made the smart decision and relocated.  Although I wouldn't have chosen the DIA tram system.
 

We are well met - again, Jack!

Basically I have tried to leave DIA four times and failed the first three.  The outcome of the fourth is still developing.  Perhaps I should have named this post "Escape from Colorado"?

And my luggage?  BUAHAHAHAHAHA!  [NOTE: Ok, I'm not actually that cavalier.   I travel to races with all necessary shoes, race suit, and goggles - all the equipment which is tried, tested, and personally-fit - in my carry-on.  But that is in case of not arriving immediately with my luggage; my luggage - BIKE! - not arriving by race day is another matter entirely.]

So it's the night before the night before the race - the most important night for sleep - and the airline officials have stopped talking in terms of time.  "The flight in Indianapolis is 5th in line to depart and flight time will be roughly 2:30."  Normally I would have eaten a hearty dinner, be heading to bed by 9 pm or shortly thereafter, and sleep as long as I can eek out, aiming for 10+ hours. 

For those of you thinking "why didn't you just bunk down in a hotel and finish the trip tomorrow?" my response is this: I have spent the last seven hours considering that option.  But in Denver I am as far from Indy as I was in Austin, and every direct and connecting flight tomorrow (the day before the race) is sold out so I would be flying stand-by and rolling serious cosmic dice.  The choice is try to get as close to Indy as possible, eschewing sleep for definitely being there on race morning, or stay in Denver and get sleep, creating the distinct possibility that I miss the race entirely.  Some decisions are never clear-cut.

Never I had such occasion to pay close attention to the social anthropology of an airport terminal over the course of a half a day.  Normally, if I have a huge lay-over, I find a corner and hole-up.  But today I was in line, out of line, boarding, deplaning, and chasing planes up and down the concourse as the airlines played musical gates.  And man, the de-evolution of an airport from late-lunch to pre-midnight leaves little to the imagination of just how the end of the world will play out.  Forget chairs, electrical outlets are a HOT commodity.  Apple has single-handedly created a new publicly traded commodity of sorts, as families of four are armed to the teeth with iPods, iPhones, iPads, iMacs - iPeople! - and can only find one or two plugs.  Teacup humans without teeth being fed all manner of re-made baby-food: melted TCBY, what looks like iced coffee from McDonalds's, mushed-by-hand french fries, and the absolute, hands-down worst, the sauce from chinese take-out.  And thousands of people going through the Five Stages of Air Travel Debacle:

No, I'm definitely still going to be able to get there on time.

Why is my flight delayed/canceled?  That flight to Palm Springs doesn't need to leave, we should take their aircraft.

Just re-book me through as many cities as necessary to get me there.  I don't care how many lay-overs I have to endure.

*sigh* I'm going to miss my X/Y/Z tomorrow.  I don't know why I even try to get anywhere via plane. *sigh*

Oh well, time to stock up at McDonald's and Starbucks.  Calories eaten in travel limbo don't count, right?

So my flight looks like it is going to take off, after being delayed four additional times.  A quick calculation shows that by the time I get to my parents house (my home-stay is racing on Saturday too, and there is no reason both he and I should be awake and driving around central Indiana in the middle of the night the day before the race so The Support Staffers have graciously offered to get me...whenever I am there to get...) I will have been traveling two-thirds of the time it would have taken me to DRIVE from Austin to Muncie, and I will have spent 133% more than it would have cost to drive.  Again, some decisions are never clear-cut.

...

It's 3:43 AM.  I just arrived at my parents' house in Bloomington.  I'm freaking exhausted.  My alarm goes off to race in just under 26 hours.  Let the Hometown Tour begin.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Oh, Say, Can You See My Holiday Weekend?

Last night was pretty normal: finish ride, eat, rinse off, gym, grocery store.   It wasn't until I was in line with cereal, almonds, fruit, etc. and surrounded by people in bathing suits buying cases of beer, sides of beef, and every avocado in Texas that I realized everything was not normal.

Oh, right.  Weekend.  Holiday weekend.

When I was a lowly government worker, I lived for weekends.  Entire days not at a desk.  Time to train - sometimes special trips to train - and time to recover properly.  And if I was living luxuriously, time to sit, drink coffee, watch TV, read a newspaper, and do nothing like a normal person. 

Now I barely notice them.  Now work - training and recovery - is for every day that ends in "-day" and none of it occurs at a desk.  And "Saturday" and "Sunday" have little meaning for me aside from the artificial importance I assign the days labeled as such.

For example, Saturday is long run day because that is the day the group I run with runs long.  Because most members of the group work in offices.  They enjoy weekends; I enjoy supported long runs.

But Thursday could be long run day.  It might as well be, if it fits into a logical training schedule.  Tuesday could be recovery day and Wednesday could be long ride day...  Training happens like clock-work, come rain, shine, T.G.I.F., Hump Day, or a Case of the Mondays.


Unfortunately holidays suffer the same demotion, especially the ones that extend the weekend.  If Sunday doesn't mean more than the day that the local bike shop holds a group ride, then what does a Monday holiday mean except that the post office is closed?  It doesn't help that this Independence Day most communities in central Texas have canceled their fireworks displays in recognition of the real possibility of burning the state down.

Today, fireworks or no, is the 235th anniversary of the founding of our nation....and an early group swim and a hard afternoon bike ride.

What does Christmas mean?  The only day it is nearly impossible to schedule a swim workout for anyone in the Northern Hemisphere.  Not only are all open water sources frozen, but every pool is closed.

November 1?  The day where mini Snickers make up pre-swim breakfast, and mini strawberry Laffy Taffys prove to be tastier than any gel. 

Thanksgiving?  The only day it's literally impossible to not re-fuel completely (and then some) after a jam-packed morning of training.

The day after Thanksgiving?  The day you learn that pumpkin pie is rocket fuel, but also that it's hard to ride aero with a still-full stomach.

January 1?  Bring extra bottles to get through the most dehydrated workout(s) of the year.

Memorial Day?  Watch for road closures on parade routes.

July 4th and Labor Day?  The day to rebuild iron stores at the block-wide BBQ.

July 5th?  The day on which you wake up and hope that Texas isn't burned down. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Lose One For The Gipper

So it's the middle of the calendar year, and for many North American triathletes, the middle of the competition season.  Winter base(ment) train(er rid)ing is a distant memory, and having more time free time to spend with family and friends around the Halloween candy, Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas ham, the New Year's champagne is nothing more than a mirage.

It's Nitty Gritty Time: the guts of the season, the bowels of a twelve-round training session.

It's right about now that motivation - the reason "why" - is wearing a little thin.  I tell my athletes that although I can provide thoughtful schedules and challenging workouts, I can't provide the motivation.  That spark has to come from within.  But there are ways to identify it, protect it, foster it, and remind yourself that the sacrifices you have chosen to make were not in vain.  So interspersed throughout the next couple weeks of normal posts and pictures (I finally bought new camera batteries after Brazil and the self-massage photo shoots!), I'm going to do a short series - I think four segments, although only time will tell - on motivation.  For lack of a better word for a big, unwieldy topic, although the segments will try to break that unwieldy idea apart.

Here's the first one: 

My lane-mates and I were having a philosophical discussion last Friday.  Or about as philosophical as one can be when panting for breath during rounds of "all out" intervals.  Through our gasps we communicated that our third rounds (out of four) had all gone much better than our current fourth round was shaping up.  We were working harder, in more pain, and going slower.  Great...

Then some wise philosopher in the back got out "maybe it's supposed to be this way."

I wish I could report that at this moment the ceiling opened, allowing a column of sunlight to ethereally strike this highly-chlorinated and under-oxygenated tableau as angels and harps struck up a chorus.  But no, we just started the next arm-wrenching interval.  However, I bet we did with a little more willingness to get slower and understanding of why the pain was worth it.  I know I did.

"Maybe it's supposed to be this way."

We get so tied up in hitting every workout out of the park - and I am guilty of this too - that we forget that sometimes failure is what makes us stronger.  Working 'til the muscles quiver, the nerves give out, the pace slows, and the mind wonders "why did I sign up for this suffer-fest?"

Some days, oh how that mantra runs on the treadmill of my mind.

The worse part - and this is how failing workouts ties in with motivation - is that they make you doubt.  They make you nervous.  They make you question your abilities, your dedication, and everything you have achieved thus far and want to achieve in the future.  Can I do it?  Will I ever be able to do it?  Will I ever be able to do it again?  Am I doing it right?

That type of thinking will sink you if you let it.  Unplug the mental treadmill!

If we sailed through every session, hitting times, wattages, and heart rates without ever having to really flex the physical and mental muscles, how would we ever know if we could go faster, harder, and longer?

Sometimes we have to move with all the swift pacing of a snail.  Not because we are doing a recovery session, but because failure helps us find our boundaries (a theme for a different segment) and work beyond our capabilities.  Because that third round shows us just how fast we can currently go and that fourth "failed" round tears apart the muscles a little more and makes sure that the next time we find ourselves in the third (or first or second or fourth) round we are going just a little bit faster.

Some workouts should make you "fail."  Because by making you fail, they make you succeed.
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