I have a new student in my yoga class and he is a true-blue endurance athlete, the kind of athlete I hope to be when I grow up. His idea of a casual Saturday morning run is a 20-miler. He has run Boston as well as a few 50-milers and he has several Iron Man races on his resume. This fall, he's doing a "double Iron." I'd never even heard of such a thing! (And possibly was better off not knowing.)
But he is a wealth of information and seems happy to talk about his experiences--he's like a kid in a candy store when we start talking "shop;" he completely lights up, a perma-grin affixed to his face, a gleam in his eye, enthusiasm in his voice. It's easy to see he is passionate about endurance racing. (I wonder, do I sound like that when I talk about triathlon?)
Last night he said something that has stuck with me all day and turned my way of thinking upside down. To paraphrase his words: "When I was training, if I didn't run sub-seven miles I just went home." He went on to explain his theory that your body will acclimate to whatever level of performance you push it to. In other words, if you allow your body to run at a slower pace, that is what it will settle for. This concept reminded me of dog-training classes that emphasize "first time obedience;" he is requiring his body to respond in a specific way the first time and every time.
Whereas, on the other hand, I'm out there running my dismally slow pace and trying to console myself with the thought that "at least I'm out there logging the miles." He may be on to something. My body is going slow because I allow it to, again and again. If I were my body, I wouldn't run faster either!
So, today, I tried this theory on for size. I was 15-minutes late for my swim class; all the more reason to make the most of the time I had. The whole time I was in the pool, I pushed as hard as I could and managed to get the entire workout in, despite having 15 minutes less time to work with. (Swim workout #11 below.)
Tonight, on the bike, I rode an upcoming course for speed. The whole time I kept the same refrain repeating in my head, "go hard, or don't go at all."
And I logged my best time and pace to date on that course tonight. (My aching quads are proof!)
He really just might be on to something . . .
2400 meter swim
25-mile bike (1238 calories)
Swim workout #10 (2400)
Warm Up (400)
400 Free, easy
Set 1 (500)
Set 2 (500)
Repeat the above, Kick only
Set 3 (400)
200 Fly down, streamline kick back
200 Backstroke down, breast back
Set 4 (400)
200 Free, pace
Cool down (200)
200 Free, easy