Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Of Ironman Training - Now for the Mental Stuff

You might say I started training for my first and last Ironman, some eighteen months ago.
This week, for the first time I believed I'm actually capable of doing the Ironman next month in France after something quite extraordinary happened.
For almost six months I have tried to run 6.5  miles in under 60 minutes. For a good part of this I was clocking 70+ minutes and until yesterday my personal best (PB) was 63 minutes and so many seconds. Yesterday, I developed a new mindfulness technique and came in in 57 minutes 30 seconds on the nose. That's a 10% improvement in just 1 attempt. I did so by employing what may be considered to be a rather curious cocktail of mental activities combining goal setting with yoga earth and mindfulness together with some Pac-Man nostalgia and mantras, laced in with a dose of fun from my favourite war film, 633 Squadron. Here's what it looked like.

En route I chose landmarks ahead of me on which to focus with me looking directly ahead to help maintain good running posture and breathing. The landmarks included such things as big oak trees, railway bridges and farmers’ gates. It didn’t really matter. When I got to each landmark I thanked it for its help and, commensurate with the respect I showed it for it's role in the countryside, its longevity or both, I imagined it recharging me with whatever spare energy it had to share.

I wasn’t running alone but as part of a team. Also in the team were Legs, Arms, Head and Mouth.

For the first landmark it was the duty of Legs to give a little bit extra to get me there. For the second it was Arms and the third Head and Mouth. For the fourth it was a whole team effort which always felt great. This cycle was simply repeated as I went round the course from landmark to landmark.

Good communication between each team member was treated as vital just as it was in any wartime flying squadron.  Head and Mouth as Leader would call on each when its special contribution was required reminding the next team member to stand by and be ready to take over. Communication back and forth was not only permitted but encouraged. Legs would report in to "Blue Leader" that all was well and remind Arms (Yellow Section) that they should be grateful that they didn’t have the hilly bit to do which was now over at least until another lap. Occasionally, Head and Mouth would repeat for all team members “Keep Going Lads” if it suspected a team player was slacking or even contemplating stopping.

If at any point I lapsed into thinking about challenges at work or any other unhelpful distractions Blue Leader in the lead Spitfire would be called in to blast them from the sky (da da da da da da da da da da da). My God they were good.

As I neared the end of the run, Legs were reporting that the props were now full out but they could cope. Arms were announcing they now had kettle bells out for forward drive and feathers for backward motion whilst Head and Mouth promised to remain up straight and blow out only air, not spittle and certainly no false teeth.

Altogether, a very strange but strangely effective piece of training....

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