Really intense periods of training can make you feel as if time does not exist, or exists in duplicate.
Recently my companion Sue was involved in Ironman training and there were about eight weeks in her training schedule that very nearly wore her out. She was quite literally training eight days a week because the extra workouts needed to build endurance added up to an entire extra day spent on the road or in the water.
When you’re shooting for an important goal, that’s what it takes. Thinking about the amount of work necessary to improve and succeed made me take out one of my running journals to look through the double workouts we did during college cross country.
Looking through this journal from October, 1978 has always been interesting to me. Sometimes it feels like it was written by an entirely different person from the one I am today. But in other ways, it does not feel like I changed at all. My interests and concerns have not shifted. There are still birding notes among the workouts recorded on those pages. There are comments about the woman I was dating at the time, and how I felt in her presence and her absence.
In particular, there were concerns about how tired I felt, and trying to balance rest with other obligations. At one point, all that pressure added up. And as noted in the journal, I was not willing to compromise or suffer distraction on the goal of a good competitive season for which I’d worked four full years. This was, I knew, the one time in life that all should be given to attaining that goal.
The point here is that none of this takes place in a void. We can try to isolate our efforts and reduce our obligations while training hard, but life and love and challenges still intervene.
Perhaps you keep a record of your efforts somehow. It’s a fascinating thing to look back a week, a month or many years to consider how you did what you set out to do.
Often these efforts come down to a critical eight week period when your training either goes well, or it doesn’t. It doesn’t matter what event you’re trying to do, it still comes down to eight weeks. That’s when you either nail it in training or you don’t. Then you taper for a week or two and have a go at whatever you’re trying to achieve.
It can give you confidence to know that you’ve done the training. And in the greater scope of life, knowing that you did those eight weeks right can make you believe in yourself in other ways. Eight days a week. Eight weeks a year. It all comes down to the eights.