Deanna B (a.k.a Trigirl 40) has blogged about her (amazing) gains as a swimmer (although she would never describe herself as "amazing" - she really is). She is an ideal example of what happens when you a) train and b) overcome your own doubts about your abilities.
I think we all grapple with feelings of self-doubt/lack of ability and the general question of "Can I really do this?"
I've been doing a bit of my own soul-searching this winter as I train for the Boston marathon and IM Brazil. I've had a few runs where I didn't feel energetic or was in some degree of pain. I remember running along Grove Avenue and thinking, "My feet really hurt. I don't like this. I can't wait for this to end." I didn't enjoy that run - and started to dread the next workout. I even wondered if maybe...just maybe...I would be "too injured" to do my races.
I think I was just in one of the normal valleys of training. It would've been easier to just skip a bunch (possibly weeks) of training. But, by skipping workouts, I knew that would only stress me out even more. So, like the stubborn girl I have always been (my dad likes to call it "sassy"), I kept getting up early on Saturdays for our long workouts. I kept dragging myself to swim practice at the Y. I kept making myself go to strength training. And, most importantly, I tried to figure out what I could do to make my runs a little less painful (that white rolling thing, which may have been invented by the devil, does work).
I also eased back on the expectations I placed on myself. I re-read my recap of IM Florida. It reminded me that I achieved my most important goal for that day: I enjoyed - better yet savored - every single second of that race. I realized that what I needed was a good thunk in the head (like a commercial for V8 juice). I had misplaced my reason for tri-ing - and with it, my motivation.
But, my (somewhat) good sense has returned. Shawn and I were talking the other morning about how we both had said we would "never do an Ironman race" (never say never, my friends). She summed up our training succinctly when she said, "it gives you something to do." That may be a bit of an understatement - but that's Shawn. Training for endurance events requires a child-like state of mind at times. You need to let go of your expectations and just enjoy the activity for its own sake. Think about it - have you ever heard a first-grader run out to recess yelling, "My goal for recess today is to build 2.8 sandcastles in the sand box. If that doesn't happen, I quit recess." No. They just play.
Last night, after overcoming a wave of nausea upon being moved to the Lane of Dread in the pool, I decided to just swim. It's okay that I'm the slowest in the lane. At least I'm trying. I'm also pretty certain that if Deanna or Fave or Kate O laps me in the pool, they aren't going to think any less of me as a person.
I guess my point here is to just hang in there through rough training days (or weeks). Things get better. It can't always be perfect - otherwise, we wouldn't appreciate the good days.