Welcome to the start of big-freaking-workout-weekend No. 2. This week’s dishing of pain includes a five-hour bike ride today and an 18 to 20 mile run on Saturday.
These are long miles. I’ll be training by myself which makes them lonely miles, too. Such is the plight of the Iron Distance training days and my sometimes wacky schedule.
But there are things to divert my attention. We all end up daydreaming on long rides or runs.
So this week’s Top 5 Friday asks, what do you think about when you’re on long training days by yourself?
It’s a boring topic, but yes, sometimes it’s extremely helpful for me to think about technique and break down each sport into different components. On long swims, there are plenty of things for me to concentrate on — my head placement, the catch and pull, exhaling fully, rotating my hips. On the bike, I’ll think about my pedal stroke, keeping my foot level and checking my cadence to work around 90RPM. On the run, I’ll check my posture, my breathing and shake out my arms to keep myself loose and harmonious. Technique thoughts help me most when I start to hurt, struggle or otherwise battle negative thoughts.
2. The Sound of Music
For some reason, the movie and soundtrack to The Sound of Music often pops into my head. I’ve given up trying to figure out why or to judge it. It is what is and sometimes when you’re tired and alone kitschy works wonders. On particularly hilly rides I tend to belt out verses to “The Lonely Goatherd” a vastly underrated song from the movie. I know — you thought I was going to say I sing “Climb Every Mountain.” Ha! In fact, one of my favorite lines from the movie comes just before that particular song when Mother Superior tells Maria that “you must live the life you were born to lead.” After all, nothing comes from nothing. Nothing ever could.
There are two different food thoughts I have. The first is paying attention to my nutrition during the workout. For instance, making sure I take a sip of water or sports drink every 10 minutes on the bike, eating my Fig Newtons and Clif Bars at regular intervals and taking my GU or AccelGel every 3-4 miles on the run. And you know it’s a long, hard run when you’re actually looking forward that packet of gel. By the end of this entire training process I’m not going to want to see a Fig Newton or bottle of sports drink for a very long time.
But between strategic nutritional feedings, I’m also daydreaming about other food — the ice cold chocolate milk waiting for me after the workout or the stack of pancakes to replenish my glycogen stores. Then, there are all the culinary treats I plan to reward myself with after September’s Iron Distance race, including, but not limited to, poutine, a very large hot-fudge sundae and several bottles of wine.
4. Places and people
As a sportswriter for the past 10 years I have been dutifully accumulating Marriott points. Trust me, it’s part of the culture of the business. And while I haven’t been a traveling fool as much as some of my colleagues, I do have a healthy amount in my Marriott rewards account. And my daydream? To use them to go to Paris. And while there, why not maybe run a marathon. Or a half marathon? Just a thought. In reality, there aren’t many places on the planet you can name that I would not want to visit.
If I’m not daydreaming of places to go, I’m daydreaming about my friends and acquaintances. Some of them inspire me and I find myself thinking about goals and dreams and how strong I am and about all the things I can accomplish. For a brief moment, I can find a space of peace amid the torture of the heat, humidity and increasing pain.
5. The Finish Line
Not the end of the workout, but the end of my race. I like to daydream about the race, about whom I might see, about my friend and family at the finish line. I think about what I’ll do when I enter that chute and cross the line. Do I want to do something special, like a cartwheel or high kick? Do I want to pump my fists over my head? Do I want to smile, laugh, cry, shout? In all likelihood I can plan all I want, the emotion of the moment will take over. Still, it’s fun to daydream.