There is a move in dance called a slip pivot. It was a move I struggled with for some time. The first time my coach tried to lead me through it, it brought us to an abrupt and awkward stop. We kept working on it, I kept practicing, eventually I was able to do a slip pivot easily. I went from sucking to not sucking. Success.
East Coast Swing is a fast and aerobic dance, the first time I tried to get through a full 2 minute competition routine I was really winded. I kept working on the two minute interval, it got easier over time. By the time I got to competition, I had no trouble getting through the dance. I went from sucking to not sucking. Success.
One of the things that is interesting about training for the IRONMAN is that it is a process of constantly increasing distance and time (sometimes alternately, sometimes at the same time.) such that “progress” doesn’t necessarily mean that my workouts feel better, but that my general feeling of suckiness remains constant at an increased time and/or distance.
Case in point – Wednesdays are speedwork which means intervals at the highest speed I can manage. The interval time has increased four minutes, and the speed has increased 5 minutes per mile since I started training. I still feel like I’m going to die at the end of each workout but I’ve gone farther, faster, for a longer time period. It’s the stasis of suck.
I have almost two years of this ahead of me now and so in addition to working hard to increase my speed and distance at the three disciplines of triathlon, I’m also working hard to adjust my idea of success to the stasis of suck.
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