IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THE RUN.
One thing I like about long swims is that it gives me time to think about other things, sometimes solving things, sometimes just getting random, muddled thoughts out of the way. And I am actually getting better at not only thinking, but counting laps at the same time!
During my last swim, I started thinking of upcoming training for 2007--what I needed to do, how I would do it, etc. Two main issues keep presenting themselves. The first is I need to be doing more running. The second is I need to get a bike.
Doing more running is so obvious. Doing more running will certainly make me stronger. Doing more running will help maintain my weight better. Doing more running will make any triathlon easier. As my friend, Tom Henson (multi-time Ironman, marathoner, ultrarunner, etc.), always says: "It all comes down to the run." How many triathlons have been decided during the run? From what I have seen, that's where its at. Oh sure, you have to have a decent swim and bike, but without the run, there is no win.
Running is where I started, before the swimming, inside tris, biking, outside tris, etc. All I used to know was running. When I started running, I became instantly competitive. Not that I was competitive against others more experienced, but the competitive drive took over, and after just one year on the race circuit, I became an age group competitor. I knew how to train, I was willing to train, I raced to win. I was a force to be reckoned with for a long time. Without all the boring details, injuries, life, age, and loss of confidence took over, and I joined the ranks of other normal runners.
Running became hard. Long runs and marathons were mentally grueling, if not physically so. I was always "starting over" with my running because of one injury or another. I kept doing them because that's all I knew, but I was no longer "good" at doing them, and I didn't really enjoy it as much. I started swimming, and a new love took over. The odd thing though was once my swimming got to a certain point, my running improved again. While I no longer intentionally competed, I was once again running respectable times in my age group. So why not do a triathlon? Indoor tris became popular and then a new focus took over. I found that I could swim in the morning and run at noon and still do okay. I found that I could bike 30 min. on a stationary bike and still run a hilly 4 mile run with the guys and stay ahead of them.
When I did my first outdoor tri, my running was still going okay, but I wasn't doing any long races any more. Nothing over 10k for a long time. And while I panicked on the first swim and rode a borrowed bike for the bike, my run was good. I wasn't one of the faster people in my age group, but I was faster that day than now.
So what is it I need to do for this next season? Get back to basics. Get back to more running. I know that just since my accident, improving my running has made other things easier, I think, because I am stronger. I look at all the tri-geeks I know, and their strength comes from their running. Only a couple of them are super swimmers, and most of them have become super bikers, but they all have in common their super running, and I don't necessarily mean fast running, although the majority are fast. Not only do they focus their training on triathlon training, but they incorporate running into a major part of their year's training--from 10k races to marathons, they are out there all year long.
This isn't something I necessarily want to do, but something I believe I need to do. The smart thing, too, would be to get the long miles out of the way early in the year so the focus can be on biking during the biking season, so I won't have to be worrying about the running as much. That's easier said than done, considering our climate here. That means I will have to go outside and run consisttently from now until June! That means that no matter what the weather, I need to be running outside, and increasing my miles every week. This will be a huge step for me. I tried it last year and it still took me months to get to the point where I was doing more than 30 minutes of running at a time except for a race. I just didn't want to do it! But that was because something always hurt. I can't really say I don't have that problem right now, but I am learning to work through the pain and focus on the outcome.
Maybe that should be my theme for next year: work through the pain, focus on the outcome. Hmm. A lot of things to think about over the next few days before zero hour!