How many people love the testing that occurs in training.. go ahead.. raise your hands.
Yeah, I figured there would be a few of you.
The rest of us are sitting here with raised blood pressures, the blood drained from our faces and a scowl. Ok.. well, maybe that's a little embellished, but you get my drift.
We test ourselves on race day in the open air amongst our peers from gun to finish tape, but as most of us know testing is (and always should be) a part of training as well. It's our benchmarks throughout the season that are indicators that what we are doing for weeks and months on end is actually working. Sure, you can see your aerobic paces dropping for the same heart rate on a long run or ride, or even just "feel" better during harder efforts but nothing tells the true story like the same test done with the swim, bike or run in January, April, June and October.
What I love (and hate) about testing in training is there are no crowds, no good luck messages, no cheering or clapping. It's just you vs. your own mind and ability to "put" yourself in a mental place that allows you to accomplish your goals.
As athletes, we are very aware of previous tests for the most part. We keep training logs, we document and we know that on XX date we produced XXX wattage for XX minutes etc. That part is very black and white. The goal of testing is to recreate the environmental conditions, time of day, nutrition, hydration and every other darn factor you can to mimic the previous conditions and produce better numbers on the given day.
My own personal nemesis is not the bike or run tests. Oh yes, those I tip my head back and laugh at with a deep belly chuckle. Those I can handle. Sure I know they'll hurt. Sure I want to nail them and I still set myself up for success in every way I can. It's the swim tests that take the wind out of my sails and leave me cowering in the corner asking for Mommy.
If I had to examine why, I would guess it's related to our track record together. Frankly, we just don't get along! I work harder and harder in the pool only to do a swim test, feel it was "REALLY" good to look down and my watch and be flabbergasted from the numbers staring back at me! "Seriously!!" I think. "That just CAN'T be RIGHT." Even if my numbers are coming along in training, better 100 times, better 200 times, it's the 200 / 1000 swim test that so far as beaten me 3 out of 4 times (dirty bugger!).
Eveny time I go in optimistic. Every time it crushes my spirit.
So, guess what I have tomorrow on the schedule.... yepper.. here it comes again!
After 6 years of learning to be a swimmer as an adult, I know I'm not going to break any records. I also know I'm probably never going to be leading the swim or coming out with the first pack. For heavens sake though, let a girl see a little progress in this area so it confirms those countless hours of yards in the pool day after day, week after week are worth it!!!
Tomorrow it's just me and the pool again. I plan on staring it down and giving it a few choice words before I even get in. The demons have already been talking today - "You can't do it", "You're not going to get any faster tomorrow". However, I have decided to look at this as an analogy for triathlon, athletics in general and even life! What if I had backed down at the thought of doing my first tri even though I didn't know how to swim, what if Columbus had decided it was too daunting to see what was beyond the horizon, heck.. what if Madonna had been afraid to vogue or MC Hammer would have been scared the crotch of his pants hung too low. The world would be a very different place my friends. THAT I think we can agree upon. Am I right??
So, with courage, tenacity and a little bit of attitude even, I plan on showing up tomorrow at that pool in the silence and beating its ___.. wait, can you do that to the pool? Not sure. I think I've got to try.
No being afraid, no fear of the outcome.. just me and the idea that I can and will get better. If it's not tomorrow, then it will be someday. That's for sure.
What are you tackling head on tomorrow? Plan on backing down? How do you like the "testing" parts of triathlon?
Best of luck to all of you whatever challenges you're meeting head on. Do it up ya'll.