One of the things that people don’t tell you about when you enter an Ironman is the emotional roller coaster and the mental trauma that you will experience on your journey to that start line.
Sure everyone mentions the early morning swims, the 100 mile bike rides and the brain freeze of your first open water swim. But what about whats going on in your head?
Whilst reading the training diaries and chatting to some of the 16 Peak XV athletes who will be racing IM in just over two weeks I notice that there are some very common feelings and emotions. So, in the spirit of a “problem shared is a problem halved” I thought I might reassure you that you are not alone in your thoughts by sharing the top nine symptoms of training for an Ironman:
Irritability: Symptoms range from throwing a hissy fit when your loved one doesn’t serve you your coffee in your favourite ” I survived the 4th most awful and degrading triathlon known to man” mug through to wanting to throttle the person in front of you at Tesco because she is emptying the contents of her purse to find a 25p off voucher for Crispy Kreme doughnuts while you are waiting to purchase your Whey protein shake, four bananas and 250 grams of chia seeds.
Restlessness: Either restless for race day to arrive or the longing to being able to rest without feeling guilty and worrying that all your hard earned fitness will disappear when you take a day off. Oh the irony, you need to rest BUT you can’t, you are too busy lying in your oxygen tent worrying that todays Strava split over Sheep House Lane was .5kph slower than a week ago.
Over-tired: Often resulting in behaving like a spoilt 3 year old. Being over tired is the catalyst for pretty much all of the other emotions here. However it’s not really a surprise you are shattered YOU’RE TRAINING FOR A IRONMAN! Remember when you signed up for it way back last year, this was what you were committing to. The early morning swim sessions, long boring runs, more hours sat on a saddle than is good for your manhood (or female hood) and continually smelling of Eau’d Penflash.
Nervousness: The fun thing about being nervous is the way that the reasons for being nervous dance about in front of you. One moment you’re nervous that you’ll have a puncture on race day, the next worried that your goggles will leak and then just as you are dropping off to sleep the certainty that a vampire will attack you and suck all the energy from your body and pour it into your main competitor the night before the race.
Meltdown: All but the coolest of characters will have some kind of meltdown before race day. I have seen these occur during open water swim sessions, at mile 80 of long bike rides and even while online shopping for the perfect tri suit! These meltdowns can last minutes, hours or days. The overriding feeling is I can’t do this! why did I enter? and I will come last!
Anxious: Lets face it there is a lot to be anxious about. Have you got the right equipment? will you need a poo on the run? what nutrition do I need ? what if its raining? what if its too hot. The best advice in dealing with these anxieties is that old phrase, “control the controllables”. You can’t change the weather on race day, but you can prepare for all eventualities. Like wise you should be using all your race day equipment during your training sessions so that there are no nasty surprises come race day.
Nauseous: Feeling sick with nerves or feeling sick after consuming five hours worth of energy drinks and gels during a long bike ride. Or maybe feeling sick after misjudging the effort needed to climb Hunters Hill resulting in very nearly seeing those energy gels for a second time. Unfortunately the nausea isn’t going to get any less as the build up to race day. However, miraculously the pre race nerves do disappear once you get your race started.
Under prepared: A feeling that everyone has done twice as much training as you. This is exasperated by nights spent reading online comments from those who claim to have just finished a 120 mile bike ride followed by a 28k hill session, all completed at a speed that would see them finish the IM in around eight hours. My simple message is don’t believe what you read! By now there is very little training that you can do to improve your time come race day. You can however jeopardise your race by panicking and adding additional sessions like a student cramming for their exams. Believe in your training.
Knackered: At this part of your training journey you SHOULD feel knackered. Its normal to finish a session and fall asleep on the sofa or desperately want to crawl under your desk and take a nap. Just remember soon this will all be over. No more sleepless nights, early morning swims, long depressing bike rides, or hours spent online forums. Your life will return to the happy, relaxed, content existence that is was………… Until the next time!