Eyes on the Prize?

Today I rolled home to complete my 7th and final ride in my “7 rides in 7 days” challenge (minimum 60 minutes per ride). I was kind of surprised that I didn’t get the buzz I’d expected. In fact, it was an hour or so before I even remembered. This challenge was something I’d never done before and normally that would give me some sense of achievement. Nup. Perhaps it wasn’t a tough enough challenge for me? The night before my final ride, I’d worked out that if I rode 126km then I’d be able to hit my all-time weekly PR of 324km. 126km would also have equalled my PR for a training ride (so I would have ridden 127km of course). Now that excited me! Two records in one ride! Unfortunately, the last time I rode 126km I tore my calf muscle the next day, so common sense prevailed and I trudged out a flat 163W 60km to close the week.

But this challenge did succeed. It motivated me to get these 7 rides in; I would have gladly missed 1 or 2 of them otherwise. And the end result was what I was hoping for: I did a 10 hour bike week and got my ailing cycling underway. So the challenge motivated me, but it didn’t inspire me.

This got me thinking about the mindset required to achieve ironman excellence – the determination and focus to hit session after session, 10 per week, for 20 weeks per race, over and over again, year after year, each time making small improvements and getting closer and closer to your dream goal. Each session crafted for a specific purpose, to make some small physiological adaptation that individually yield nothing, but when layered one on top of another over a whole year, build a body supremely tuned to turn out a magnificent performance on a single day. That is some kind of dedication!


Come 18 October, I begin my 20 week training block for Ironman New Zealand. I doubt that I will be able to keep my eye on the prize and sacrifice the joy of the session for that single distant goal. Will I be able to keep my heart rate in-check on that climb up Springbrook and not try to crack my 23:15/296W best? Will I be able to run my favourite 8km loop at a steady pace every single time and never try to lower my much-to-high 34:03 PR? Will I be able to cover 450km in a week and not be tempted to tack on another 50km to achieve the elusive 500? Can I put these challenges aside? We’re talking 200 training sessions here. That’s a lot of joy to give up for a single race! (and heaven help if I couldn’t race it after all of that).

I don’t think my eyes are on the prize, not solely anyway. I train for fun. Fun is my goal. I won’t be able to ride the same route over and over again, slowly dialling in the wattage and nutrition. Instead I’ll be out searching for new routes with new hills and new scenery. I’ll complete the Ironman because it is a challenge. In truth, the difference between me training with single-minded determination and training for joy, might mean 1-2 hours on the day: the difference between an 11 hour race and a 13 hour race. We are not talking sub-10 hours, we are not talking Kona slots. 11, 13, 15 hours – it doesn’t matter. The aim is to get to the end before the 17 hour cut-off and become an Ironman.

But wait, this is not a copout excuse to do nothing. I’m looking forward to some EPIC training! I’m excited to knock all of these PRs on the head:

Swim Bike Run
Longest Week (distance) 9.9km 324km 52km
Longest Individual Session (distance) 5.0km 126km 28km

And I want to shatter my 17.5 hour longest training week. If I get desperate for more challenges, there’s always Steven Lords Eddington Numbers!

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