I started this blog I guess as a way to document our attempt to get me back into Kona qualifying shape. I had been following Alan Ryan’s blog tracking his attempt to not only qualify for Kona but to go on and try to win his age group there. I thought it was a great insight into how he trained and how his training differed from mine. I found it so interesting I decided to have a go myself and record how myself and Ais tackled it.
There’s a huge amount of nervousness stating a big goal publicly (crapping myself might be a better way to describe it) there’s always the possibility of failing and falling flat on my face and I’ve invited an audience along to watch. The first time I attempted to qualify for Kona in 2011 I wrote about it in the Outsider magazine and I found it provided me with a great sense of motivation, mostly from the fear of screwing up publicly.
The blog this time provides a lot of motivation too. Like last time I’m again driven by the fear of public failure and also the fear of looking like an idiot. I sometimes imagine people reading and thinking who the hell does he think he is thinking he can get to Kona?
I’m trying to be as honest as possible with the weekly updates and that means including the sessions, days or weeks that don’t go according to plan, the problems we encounter as well as the days that go great. I imagine people rolling their eyes when I write about tipping myself over the edge in training thinking “well of course that was going to happen if you do a three hour run the day after a 6 hour bike or if you treble your weekly swim volume to 30,000m overnight”
To be honest those thoughts are quickly quashed and I carry on. I know from past experience that I’m going to have to push through those barriers and limits if we are going to be successful and in pushing my limits we will inevitably go too far on occasion, that’s a risk and one I’m glad to take. I trust Aisling implicitly and completely. I believe in the program, I believe in her and she believes that I have the ability to do it. That’s enough for me.
Anyway back to the motivation thing, the one surprising aspect of the blog is the connection with the readers. When I wrote for the Outsider magazine I did it in a sort of a vacuum. The feedback came weeks and often months after the article was published, if at all. The blog provides constant feedback and support from readers on Facebook, Twitter, in the comments section on the blog and also surprisingly in the shop. There’s hardly a day goes by that someone doesn’t mention it and tell me they’re rooting for me it that they’re enjoying the fact that I suffer the same as they do and have the same worries, doubts, bad days and good.
As a result I’m finding it’s given me a new source of motivation. I feel accountable to all the people who take a few minutes out of their day to read it and leave me a comment suggesting how to deal with a problem or just wishing me good luck. It gets me out the door when it’s dumping down with rain because I can’t imagine admitting in next weeks blog that I wimped out of a ride because it was wet out. I don’t want to admit to any weakness but I also don’t want to disappoint people. It gets me through tough sessions for the same reason. I don’t want to quit when it’s hard or if it hurts and have to admit failure or weakness. Of course I could just leave out those bits but then it wouldn’t really be what I wanted it to be. An honest recounting of the journey regardless of the ultimate result.
I have several motivations to train.
- I love it (most days anyway)
- I remind myself that even a hard or bad day spent training is better than being injured or unable to get out and swim, bike or run. When I had back surgery in 2014 I remember thinking that all I wanted was to be able to get out and run with Ais or ride my bike. For months I didn’t know if I’d ever get back to being able to race. I just wanted to be able to get out and move.
- Getting to Kona is and for a long time has been a massive all consuming desire. There’s something about it that just keeps getting me out the door despite tiredness, bad weather or whatever other excuse presents itself.
- Aisling is my biggest source of motivation. I want to make her proud, I want to repay all of the hard work and sacrifice that she puts into my racing and getting me to the start line in the best shape I can be.
- Now the blog and the accountability it provides is another source of motivation.
I find some days I don’t like training. I’m just too tired to want to go out for another 6 hour bike ride in the rain. On those days I switch my focus and hold myself accountable to Ais, or the blog, or I remind myself how badly I wanted to be able to ride in the rain, sun or wind when I couldn’t get out of bed. Or I think of the other guys in my age group preparing for Ironman Mallorca and wonder how many of them will wimp out of today’s ride because it’s wet out? Or I remember Aisling asking am I made of sugar? Do I think I’ll melt? And I hear her add and sure your skin is waterproof.
I find having multiple motivations to keep going is not just useful but critical. I might not care about one of my motivations today but switching focus to another will usually get me moving. And one of the most important lessons Ais taught me was that sometimes my level of motivation doesn’t matter. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and go and do the work whether I feel motivated or not.
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