Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Body vs Mind

My body is starting to officially object to the extra training my husband and I have been putting in for our half Ironman. I have always been a runner, but the past few weeks have been a combination of additional cycling and swimming, and still the normal running. And this morning I could hardly move my arms. My muscles are sending two simultaneous messages of "pain" and "satisfaction" to my brain (the kind of eina you have after a marathon - the continual muscular aching which leaves you with a combined feeling of achievement and fatigue). So, the Official Coach (that's my husband) said we may have one day off (today) in our continuous training session of a few weeks. Yipee! (Although I must add that I am such an exercise junkie that I am missing it by midmorning already....)

I have this trick that I use to help me when I have a long training session ahead. I break it up into sections, and tell myself that the first section is a warm-up and that the mid-section is the actual exercise, and that the last section is the cool-down (but all at the same pace). And so a 2km swim ends up being (in my mind) a 500m warm-up, followed by a 1km training swim, and finally a 500m cool-down. And so, at the end of the session I have done a 2km training session which I convinced myself was only a 1km session with a warm-up and a cool-down. But how exactly the tricking-your-mind-thing works, I have no idea. Because surely your one side of your mind (the side that's doing the convincing - you know, the "sales person" side) and the other side of your mind (the side that has to be convinced - you know the "parent" side) are connected? Surely the moment your one half of your mind says to the other half "okay now this is what you're going to believe is happening" when actually something else is happening, BOTH SIDES KNOW? I don't understand it at all, but it's true and it works for me! Amazing thing, the brain!

I believe that 70% of a tough race is in the mind. Even when your body is objecting, your mind can take over and you can block out quite a bit of discomfort and carry on. Then, of course, we mustn't neglect to mention that very useful hormone, endorphin. Lovely little hormone, she is! (I've always thought it's very useful and appropriate that endorphin sounds a bit like morphine....) So when she kicks in and blocks out a serious amount of pain, we feel as if we can carry running / cycling / swimming forever! We like her, that endorphin hormone! Yeah!

So, I will enjoy my official rest day, and try to keep the withdrawal symptoms to a minimum (getting jittery already....what should I do with all this excess energy...mmmm.....don't those cupboards need repacking?). And tomorrow we will hit the road bright and early, and MIND can rest for a moment while BODY takes over and does the work...

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