Tonight during my swim I had a lot of time to think. 50+ minutes of back-and-forth-and-back-and-forth, with no music and really no noise at all leads to a lot of thinking! Sometimes my best problem-sorting sessions are done in the pool.
Anyhow, I was thinking about training. For example, why was I swimming tonight? Normally I swim early in the morning. I NEVER swim at night. But this morning I was too tired and lazy to get out of bed so early, and never got my sweat on. I had a burst of energy after the kids went to sleep, so decided to hit the pool.
Now, I certainly didn't have to swim today. I could have taken a rest day, and would have been justified in doing so, as I've had good workouts the past several days. But I wanted to. Why? Well, for several reasons: to get my cardio in for the day, to burn some calories, to get out of the house. Working out keeps me looking good and feeling great. And I've admitted I'm addicted. But the main reason I swam tonight was to train for my next triathlon....which isn't until September.
Although I have plenty of time until the race, and have a great base under my belt, I am worried about this race. It's my first Olympic-sized triathlon: it's a 1500 meter swim, a 40k hilly bike ride, and a 10k run. Although I have completed 4 triathlons so far, all have been sprint distances---roughly a 500 meter swim, 20k flat bike ride, and 5k run (give or take, as each race was a bit different). This race will be so much more in every sport.
I am nervous.
And so, I train. I swim twice a week, each time doing either 2000 or 2500 yards. This past weekend I actually rode part of the hilly bike course, which was HUGE for me, as I am terrified of riding hills (and I was able to ride them!). I continue to train for my half marathons, so I don't need to train specifically for the run, although I will need to start doing more brick workouts (which are back-to-back segments, such as biking and then immediately running) in order to get the endurance needed to do that run after the swim and bike.
I know that some people train much harder than I do. I also know that some people don't train as hard as I do, and they more than likely do better on the races than I do. Most people are faster and stronger than me. But I'm not a natural athlete; I really need to work at it. Every time I train---each run that I do, each lap that I swim--builds upon the work that I did in my previous workouts.
Can I do the triathlon without so much training? Sure! I can muddle through anything. But I wouldn't feel GOOD about it. I like knowing that I put in the work. That way, no matter what happens in the race, I can be proud. Even if I come in third-to-last place, as I once did, I know it wasn't because of lack of training. There are many things I can't control on race day (weather, crowds, illness) but one of the things I CAN control is how prepared I am. Training hard and consistently ensures that I will finish as strongly as I can, and hopefully finish injury-free.
So even though it may seem like one particular workout is meaningless in the long run in terms of training (aside from having the obvious immediate health and mental benefits), each session is really important. They are all small but important steps that will help me reach my goal, whether it's in my next half marathon or triathlon.