All across the internet, and by internet I mean triathlon blogs, people are listing their 2013 training totals and accomplishments, as well as what they plan to accomplish in the coming year. While I am big on the fresh start implied in the new year, I am not going to do such a reflection in detail. Mostly because it depresses me.
In many ways, 2013 was not my year. I faced challenges professionally that wore me down. I coped not by exercises but by sitting on the couch and eating. I paid the consequences of gaining weight and losing fitness. But I also saw that despite my sub-par nutrition and training, I was capable of picking myself up and doing incredible things. Or thing. Ironman Wisconsin. In many ways I felt I didn't earn that finish line, as I didn't put in the work I had planned and while I am happy with my finish, it is not what I initially imagined. However, when I look back on 2013, that is above all, my crowning achievement. There is so much negative energy that could have defined me in this past year, but I came out of it an Ironman, and nothing can ever take that away from me.
While I have a long list of New Years Resolutions, ranging from consistently doing core work and yoga to being better at turning out the lights at home, my overall resolution is to not let perfect be the enemy of good. Like many triathletes, I am a perfectionist, and while I am a pretty relaxed person at times, there is no hiding that part of me that is Type A. I love mapping out training plans, making Excel spreadsheets to track metrics, menu planning, etc. I have also realized this past year that I am an all-or-nothing type of person. Well, I plan to break this this year. The triathlon example is that past-me would have planned a 10 mile run. Then something happens and that just isn't feasible. Old me would likely have not run at all, while it would be entirely possible to get in 3-4 miles. Perfect (10 miles) gets in the way of good (3-4 miles). A real-life example is how I go about cleaning (or not cleaning) my condo. I always tell myself that Sunday (or whatever day) I will spend all day and do a really good deep cleaning. Yeah, I don't have to tell you that that rarely (or never) happens. So I end up doing nothing. The dishes stay in the sink, the dog hair continues to accumulate, etc. But what if instead of being perfect, I just try to be good- spend 15 min vacuuming, do a few dishes, wipe down the counter. Might not be perfect, but it is better than nothing.
I put this resolution into practice yesterday. I like to say I have a tradition of running the year in miles on New Years Day- i.e. 14 miles for 2014. While I say this is a tradition, I've only actually done it once, back in 2011, and blamed the weather in subsequent years. Before you go thinking I'm soft, while I don't remember the weather at all in 2013, I can tell you that 2012 was downright frightful. Well, yesterday, the weather wasn't so great either. Snow. Lots of it. I am not sure if the path was plowed at all, but the snow was falling throughout the day. It might have been the sissy way to go, but I didn't want to spend my New Years Day trampling through snow, being careful not to trip, and just having a miserable time. I definitely agree there is a time and place for those miserable workouts, but this (to me) wasn't one of them. So I decided on a new tradition- I'd swim 2014 yds.
I trudged through the snow to get to the gym, which shockingly wasn't crazy. I guess resolutions start on the 2nd, after the hangover has worn off? I got in the water, and those first few laps felt tough. 2014 yds started to seem like a very long distance, and compared to what I have been doing, it is. But I got through it. January 1 is not the time to quit for no good reason. I ended up at 2050, since stopping at 2014 yds is kind of tough to do in a 25 yd pool. But no worries, I'm not seeing that as an excuse to put off swimming until 2050.
Next up was running. My plan called for 6x400 at Z5 pace. While I haven't retested my run, I assume Z5 is around 7:30ish. I planned to do a 1.5 mile warm up, hit the intervals, then cool down for another 1.5 miles to hit a total of 6 miles. Sounded quite doable. I got on the dreaded treadmill and started. My legs felt off. Nothing really hurt, just they felt off. Excuses were flooding my mind. Even justifications- skip the run, go home and do the bike instead. But I was already there. I told myself to just get through a mile. I could do that. When a mile came up, I decided to try an interval. Bumped up the speed and off I went. And it was challenging, yes, but I started to feel good in that "hurts so good" type of way. I knew I could do it, and the victory would be sweeter since I powered through those excuses on January 1st of all days. I alternated a quarter mile at 7:30-7:35 with a quarter mile easy at a 9:15ish pace. I got through all six intervals, when I originally wanted to quit before half a mile. No, I didn't get all 6 planned miles in, but I hit the guts of the workout and got in a quality 4 miles. Not perfect, but pretty darn good.