A month out from the Brutal Double, we have just had a couple of weeks away on holiday. Although the timing is not ideal, I knew about this enforced disruption to my training well in advance, and accommodated it as best I could in the training plan that I drew up at the start of the year.
Despite that, my subconscious brain still managed to have a little pop at me. Sleeping fitfully in a hot hotel room, I endured a horrible dream where I had a brain tumour, and only had a month to live! (For those of you who are not psychotherapists, let me just point out that Brutal is a month away and leave you to join the dots.)
The point is that, no matter how logically you approach a goal, no matter how well your preparation goes, no matter how confident you feel, there will always be a small niggling part of your subconscious messing with you.
Another way this manifests itself for me is in paranoia about injury and illness. As far as I am concerned, any tiny sneeze in the fortnight before a big event is obviously the first signs of some new virulent strain of flu that will have me fighting for my life by race day. When I raced Ironman Barcelona, I got off the plane in Catalonia convinced that a new stiffness in my calf was deep vein thrombosis.
The point of this blog post is to help me fight off this paranoia with the sword of logic, and hopefully put your mind at rest that these anxieties are normal, and pretty much par for the course.
So what do we do?
1. Look to the training that is in the bank. I have been building up to the Brutal Double since May, and I am endurance fit. My training has been consistent and specific, and I am on track. Two easier weeks right now are not going to destroy all that hard work.
2. Recall past examples. I completed Ironman Barcelona with no calf problems at all. No matter how convinced I was that my leg was going to explode, IT DIDN’T. So why should I listen to that same illogical nag of doubt now? I SHOULDN’T.
3. Take control. The problem with this anxiety, is that it feels somehow out of my control. So let’s focus on things that are controllable, and that will make me feel better. I have been organising the logistics of the weekend – support crew and accommodation. Even if I am not training, I am still working towards my goal.
4. Stick to the plan. Don’t panic. Your plan is logical and sound – so just get on with it. As I write this, I am just back from a Masters Swim session on my first full day back in the UK. That was in the plan as soon as I booked the holiday, and having done the session, I feel fully back on top things.
Anxiety is a normal part of life – it’s a primeval human instinct that stops us casually walking off a cliff, or trying to stroke a cute looking sabre toothed tiger. Controlling that anxiety, managing it and mastering it – these are difficult skills but ones that can be learned with practice. You learned how to swim. You learned how to run through transition holding your bike. You learned how to wee in a lake. You can learn this too.