An athlete I'm working with is in the final few weeks of preparation for the UltraMan in Hawaii - three days of triathlon: 10 Km swim and 90 miles of cycling on day one. Day two is 171.4 miles of cycling! Day three is 52.4 miles of running!
As expected, she's having some doubts. Who wouldn't when faced with such a challenge.
Some of you are running a fall marathon. That's also big challenge, so I thought you'd appreciate what I just sent her:
"This is the biggest challenge you've set for yourself so far. The key word is "so far." There will always be another challenge. Start thinking about your next challenge - not to the point of planning for it, but open the door to another challenge down the road.
Also, training is all about two things - preparing the body for the task at hand and preparing the mind. The biggest part of preparing the mind is to experience the demons before hand, to hit the low points during training.
To learn that they will come, they will test you. To mostly know that you've over come them, you've pushed on, gotten past them all.
The challenge in longer endurance efforts is not the physical, it's avoiding the surprises. Training prepares you for what will happen. The bone deep fatigue, the eye lids ache pain, the where's the end, will it ever come doubt. These and more will await you in Hawaii. They will test your reasons for doing this event. They will test your determination, your confidence and your very ability to take another step and another breath.
The challenge is never physical. The body is stupid. Put a road in front of it and it will go, and go as fast as possible until it collapses. The challenge is controlling the body with your mind. The challenge is tempering your efforts and steeling against the certain arrival of the demons, the bad patches, the fatigue and the pain.
The only things you can be certain of in Hawaii is that it will last a very long time, it will hurt, you will be truly challenged, you will question your sanity, your reason and your resolve.
Oh, and that you will reach the finish line! This is just the next step in your journey. Cherish it."