January update

January seems to have passed without any epic stories (which sometimes is a good thing…). No races, just consistent training… and training… and training… It seems that the open-water season is finally over (although most swimmers would have said that a few months ago…) The first outdoor-swim of the year was a short one, and even with the full winter-kit on (gloves, booties) I didn’t stop shaking for quite a while… Turns out that 6 degree water does not make for a nice and relaxing swim… But I have to say: I do like those short, cold sessions! Unfortunately winter has started, and when there’s people ice-skating on the lakes where I usually swim, I know that it’s a good excuse to go to a nice and warm pool…

Cycling has been mostly nice and warm too: early januari I’ve been riding outside, but once snow and ice covered the roads I chose to be wise and get on the turbo. The main goal is not to get injured, and since I do seem to have a track-record of snow-related stupid accidents, it’s best to be wise now… Since winter is usually my running season there’s not too many cycling hours, but when training for a triple ‘not too many hours’ could still mean riding the turbo for 3,5 hours… After Claire’s indoor GymQuin I think no-one is allowed to complain about long hours indoors anymore, but I still have to say; these sessions have not been my favourite ones…

But mostly January has been about running… A lot of running… I wouldn’t want to bother anyone with the details (since it’s mainly just ‘and then I ran… And then I ran some more…And then I went out and ran some more again…), but let’s say that when I looked at my training schedule and saw a 30km run planned for the next day, I thought: ‘nice… a rest day!’. Running is going really good; the body is coping well with the long hours on the road, and thankfully I have quite a few friends who run, so I often do have some company during (parts of) my long runs!

That’s the physical part of it all, but that’s also the ’easy’ part: it’s about doing the work and staying injury-free. What most people don’t see is that there’s a huge psychological part to this whole ultra-thing… And I’m not talking about the ‘why do I do what I do?’ (since I can’t really answer that question in a single blog post), but staying motivated and focused is a big part of the puzzle that should lead me to the finish-line of the Triple in September…

Last year, whilst training for the Double, the motivation and focus was always there. Now something changed… Was I underestimating things? (‘last year went great, and this is just more of the same…’), or didn’t I ‘want’ the triple badly enough? I got slightly confused, and I knew that this self-doubt had to go, or I wouldn’t make it through the season; once the doubt is there, it only grows stronger… Luckily, there’s sport-psychologist Danielle, and within an hour I was completely back on track. The confusing feeling that I didn’t recognize, and (mistakenly) thought was a lack of focus, was actually something completely different. It was logical that I didn’t know what it was, since I never experienced this state of mind in my athletic career… It was complete confidence, and therefore I was totally relaxed…

I’ve learned from last year that my body is able to withstand a hard year of ultra-training, and I’m capable of doing a long race, and do it well. I learned to trust the process, trust my body, and trust the people around me (although, looking at my schedule, I do sometimes question if my coach doesn’t just hate me…). Funny to see how your mind can play tricks on you: what seemed to be a negative mental state turned out to be a really good one! (and on a more serious note: for anyone pushing their limits: do talk to someone if you get stuck in your head! Endurance sport is as much a mental game as it is a physical one, and in the end, it’s important that it is still about having fun!)

So training is done for January, my mind is back in the right place, booked the ferry and a nice cottage in Wales for September and I’m looking forward to the adventures to come!

Happy training to you all!

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