Despite a solid winter and fall of training, racing has been rather poor so far this year. In fact, I haven’t really had a good race since the St. Neots Half Marathon back in November.
I don’t think there is anything more frustrating to an endurance athlete than continued mediocrity. You train day-in, day-out, and believe that you are improving. We (and I) certainly believe it based on some mix of subjective and objective measures in our training, but we try our damn-est to confirm it by the stark, honest performance of a race. In the cases where our fitness is confirmed, it’s like that school-yard feeling when you realize that the pretty girl actually likes you. However, it’s equally crushing when that girl rejects you, and incredibly disheartening to find that several hundred hours of anonymous hard work in the dead of winter have not progressed your fitness, but have, in fact, maybe allowed it to regress.
I know my training is somewhat incomplete, but being perfectly frank, it’s always going to be somewhat incomplete. For the luxurious few who do this for a living, they have some choice in the matter, but most of us just try to cram the workouts in around the fringes. I am no exception. Acknowledging these gaps, my training was consistent, progressive, and ahead of where I was in the fall. My races have been sub-par, frustrating, and leave me in a funk for days.
I’m reticent to turn back to the drawing board, as I’m not entirely sure if I was done drawing my last piece of work. I know I’ve got decent fitness in me, somehow I’m struggling to articulate it in some meaningful manner. But, I’ve been around long enough to recognize I need some stark assessments of my training, and I’ve learned that my strength is generally my strength—meaning I swim, ride, and run best when I’m carrying a heavy dose of longer, steady state intervals and aerobic overload. So that’s where I’m headed again.