I have a confession to make: I was really really excited the day I signed up for the ironman. Then, every single day since then, at some point (usually at multiple points) I have had a moment of sheer panic and the thought of "what the FUCK have I done?????"
Giving the internet forums another try, I turned to the beginnertriathlete.com forums, and I got a ton of reassurance that I can indeed do this and still somewhat maintain a life. I think I had one or two people mention 20+ hour training weeks and eating/sleeping/breathing triathlon, but I heard from a lot of normal people who make it work.
I have a lot of reading up to do on training plans, but I think I can do this on 10-15 hours a week of training, 15 being at the peak of things. That's doable. I'm already learning some things that I'm putting into practice....things like:
-a short workout is better than no workout. If I can't put in the time or mileage than I want, hey, a 2 mile run is 2 miles I wouldn't have done otherwise. 30 minutes in the pool is 30 minutes I wouldn't otherwise have on my swimming base.
-...which brings me to this: there's something to be said for the base you bring to an endurance event. Let's face it - my marathon training was a bit pitiful at times. It wasn't due to slacking or lack of motivation, it was due to injuries and life. But I did 26.2 and enjoyed it and it didn't nearly kill me in the last few miles. I firmly believe it's because I'd been running fairly consistently for a couple of years prior to that. I think I already bring a decent amount of tenacity, endurance, and cardio fitness to the table. I may not go fast, but I can go long, dammit.
-get creative! I ran to yoga class the other day. I'll do a quick run on the treadmill if I get to spin class early. I run errands on my bike (although the main road out there is SCARY...despite all the "share the road" signs, lots of people don't share well!) Again, it's that "get a workout in however you can, if all else fails" thing.
-run less and run more. This is a new one I'm trying. It's counter to what I've heard elsewhere - run three times a week with a day off in between, longer distances. I know it's good for some people. It's also what my PT recommended when I was coming off of injury. However, I'm testing out the opposite of that theory, that others swear by equally for injury prevention - run short distances, frequently. And...I'm liking it. I feel like now, when I go for a run, instead of starting out all tight and awkward and taking a mile or so to get into the swing of it, my legs go, "Oh yeah, this. We know how to do this. You make us do this all the time." My leg is feeling better than it has since August - not 100% yet, but super close. I really think this new strategy will not only help my speed, but get me into Pig training pain-free.
-skip it....sometimes. Last week, I was going to do a bike ride on Tuesday. The weather was perfect, I got off work early, husband was going to be home late, my bike was in my backseat. I went downtown, and I realized that I would pretty much rather do anything than get on my bike, even though it was going to be a flat ride, even though I LOVE my bike. I realized that my body, mind, whatever, was trying to tell me something. So I went home. I ate too many cheese crackers, finished the book I've been working on, and took a nap (and I NEVER take naps.) I felt much better. I rode my bike in the morning. BUT later on that week, I had a similar feeling about swimming. Seriously, it took an incredible effort to get out of my car, walk into the gym, put on my swimsuit, as soon as I got in the pool I wanted to get out. But once I was moving, it felt awesome. Afterward, I felt like someone had absolutely injected me with energy. I don't regret either choice. Sometimes you've gotta skip it, sometimes you've gotta force it, just don't do either too frequently....and if you have to make that choice too often, maybe your training plan needs some tweaking.
Hmm. Maybe I'll write a book when this is all over. Would ya'll read it?? :)