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The Daily Grind

A friend of mine recently suggested that I should blog about my own training. That somehow in my struggles, maybe one of you will find strength and inspiration. I am not much of a motivational speaker, but I will give it my best shot! I am currently in week 4 of my training for Ironman Wisconsin, which is about 3 months away. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the triathlon “lingo,” this race involves a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run. So far, I have had about three months of what I consider “base training” under my belt. This involved swimming 2 hours per week, biking approximately 50-75 miles per week, and running 40 miles per week as a way to prepare myself for the vigor of my actual training plan.

This past weekend I completed my second sprint triathlon of the season. Although I am still a little sore from the race, I have a big week planned. A 50 mile bike ride today, and also a 45 minute swim workout. Tomorrow holds a 10 mile training run with some tough intervals, and Saturday an 11 mile run with a 10k time trial. I would consider my volume of training this week my toughest yet. Even as an experienced triathlete, this isn’t always easy, and I don’t always look forward to things getting harder. Positive self-talk is an important part of my workouts. I complete most of them by myself, and find myself constantly day dreaming about Ironman Wisconsin, and how it will feel to finish the race. Often on hard days, I find myself questioning why I am doing this. What is the purpose?

While these thoughts usually don’t last long, they always come at the hardest part of long and lonely workouts. Upon completion of a workout, I feel a sense of accomplishment, and my feelings of doubt vanish. I think back to the day I finished my first Ironman, in Mont Tremblant, Canada. Hearing Mike Reilly announce to the entire world- “ELAINA MERTENS, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN” was one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever experienced. I had entered the race hoping and praying I would be able to make it through, and crossing the line was more spectacular than I could have ever envisioned. There is something absolutely enthralling about the unknown. I think that is one of the reasons people love sport so much. There is a large level of uncertainty. Achieving the goal is all the more fulfilling when you’ve struggled to get there, and are still unsure of the outcome.

So when it’s hard to get out the door, and you’re questioning why you’re even doing this- remember why you started. It is out of necessity that I continue to compete. It is who I am, and I love the person sport has transformed me into. This sport has given me self-discipline, self-confidence, and determination beyond that of a sane person! Keep in mind what you started for, and appreciate that you must be willing to sacrifice where you are now, for what you want to become. Keep your goals in mind; the struggle makes the journey all the more rewarding.

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