There’s only one more week until Triman Triathlon, and then after that I can slow down for a bit before heading into my final training block of the year for the Clark Triathlon Classic. So far I’ve had a pretty good streak of training since Duaman last month, missing only a few of the planned sessions in my MX Endurance training plan.
People who aren’t into endurance sport are sometimes puzzled by our volume of training. “Isn’t it boring?” they ask. “Kilometers and kilometers doing the same thing.” And you know what, if I didn’t like swimming, biking, and running, I might agree with them. This sport isn’t as full of variety and bursts of energy as, say, mixed martial arts. It doesn’t have the built-in goal-achieving of futbol or basketball where you need to put a ball somewhere to score points and win. We just have starting lines, race routes, and finish lines, and all the training accustoms us to the forward motion and gives us the strength to get from start to finish the quickest we physically can. If you’re not someone who enjoys that journey between start and finish, I can understand how it might seem boring.
I still have days when the kilometers seem to tick by so slowly it feels like I’m standing still, and I haven’t built myself back up to the point where two hours can fly by, I have six more to go, and I’m still smiling. But I have regained that ability to look at the structure of the training session and then just put my head down and complete it.
Have you ever heard about “highway hypnosis”? It’s a phenomenon where people can drive long distances and have no recollection of it afterward. That’s because we’re more aware of things that we’re still learning to do. Once we’ve achieved sufficient mastery of them, we can do them on autopilot without conscious thought.
I’ve experienced the same phenomenon in races, especially the longer ones. On my second marathon, I remember thinking “why am I doing this?” at the second kilometer. The next thing I knew, I was at the pitstop I asked my family to wait at, which was on the 10th kilometer. Or during my ironman at Challenge Roth, I was feeling demoralized starting at the 27th kilometer of the marathon but just kept moving forward in a haze until I finally got my second wind at the 35th kilometer.
What it comes down to is that for me, endurance training done properly trains my body to keep going even when the mind has checked out. And that’s wonderfully comforting if my goal is to complete a race.
(When it comes to competing, there’s a different mindset at play. Ask me about it next time!)