by klassman

Recently a wise woman told me that I’m overthinking this whole Ironman thing.  I could go cover the 140 miles tomorrow if need be.  It would be grueling and the recovery would take a longer than otherwise necessary, but it could be done.

What to eat, how fast to train, how much to train, when to worry and when to just go with it all can become consuming.  There is no wonder that there are jokes in the triathlon community about OCD.

Unfair, of course, to people who truly suffer from anxiety disorders.  But, there is some kernel of truth.  As she said, it is just one foot in front of the other.  It is not complicated.  I love to swim.  Once you’ve learned, riding a bike is as easy as, well, riding a bike.  People have been running since there have been people and large predators.  It is one foot in front of the other.

That is what I did today.  I ran without thinking about pace.  I ran without concern about distance.  I ran without thinking about what I had most recently eaten or how long it had been.  I found the biggest hills I could and put one foot in front of the other.

I did run for an hour with an eye on my heart rate.  One of the key time management tools from Fink’s Iron Fit is to train by time, not by miles or pace.  Run for an hour, run for 75 minutes don’t run a string of 8-minute miles.  He, like so many others, is also an advocate of training by heart rate zones.

Training with my heart rate is not new or uncomfortable.  I’ve been doing it for more than two decades.  However, after having learned a bit more about zone training for endurance events, I realize that I’ve never trained this way before.  My typical experience has been to do a lot of workouts with half of the work in zone three and another 40 percent of the work in zones four or five.  It stands to reason, training for 100-200 yards of swimming should be different than a race that will take hours.  The big lesson for endurance events, when in doubt train in zone two.

As a result, as I ran all I could think about was slowing down, breathing more deeply and any other trick that came to mind that might lower my heart rate.  It felt so slow.  It was mentally taxing.  It was awkward; it was like eating right after an extended appointment with the dentist.  Weird.  By the time I finished and checked the numbers, my heart averaged 143 beats per minute or a full 12 beats per minute lower than a typical run.

It’s time to trust the expert coaches, the people who have done this before and trust my heart a little more than my head.