Friday, January 8, 2010

Behold the Sufferfest

We all have them whether we like it or not.

They can't be scheduled.

And they certainly cannot be avoided.

I am referring to the Sufferfest: the workouts that make you want to stop. They make you want to cry. They make your muscles scream. Likewise, you might just scream.

Emotionally and physically draining, the sufferfest is the sign of growth.

For those of you unfamiliar with endurance events, a sufferfest is not about going long or fast. Yes, those workouts are hard, but they aren't impossible.

A sufferfest feels impossible.

That was my workout today. To really understand, rewind 24 hours. Yesterday, I did a speed workout (run). Immediately, afterward I did an hour of strength training. Last night, I spent 35 min on the bike doing intervals.

This morning, my body was feeling the previous day's workouts. Today, I had a swim and recovery run.

Before even getting into the water, I.was.tired.

As I hit the water, I started flopping around like a fish out of water, reaching just trying to get to the other end of the pool. Gasping, doggie paddling, scrambling, you name it, I did it. During my intervals, my lats were screaming at me. My legs would take intermittent breaks from kicking assuming they were just along for the ride today.

In summary, not a pretty swim.

But the sufferfest is not about grace. It's about sheer determination. The kind that makes you grit your teeth and grumble "I am NOT giving in. This swim will not beat me. Not today. Not any day."

It's the kind of day where your sense of accomplishment is off the charts. When others listen to you and think you're crazy for going through a "seemingly easy" workout, you go home and log your training as "I did it! Not easy, but I got through it! Weaker people would have quit".

Get the picture?

As hard as the swim was, I had to do a swim/run brick today (due to time constraints). Out of the pool and into my running clothes for a few recovery miles.

Sufferfest: when even a recovery run is difficult.

So many times I wanted to jump off the treadmill. I wanted to slow my pace to a walk. I wanted to speed up to get it over with.

Instead, I stuck with my plan. Kept the pacing, grit my teeth, and stared straight out the window until I was done.

The sufferfest is over. I did it. Got the job done....not by doing "junk" miles but by pushing through and holding my paces even when I didn't think I could.

Sometimes you have to stop analyzing. You have to stop thinking and just do.