You Get Out What You Put In

For the last nine years, I’ve “trained” for triathlons. Usually starting in late December or early January, I come up with a plan based on what races I have for the upcoming season. Some years that means I’m building my training for a full (Ironman) distance triathlon. Other years, I might do a half distance or just a few Olympic distance races. No matter what the race calendar looks like, I have always trained religiously six days a week. That usually consists of three runs, three bikes and one or two swims per week. So by the time the spring and summer triathlons come around, I’m in pretty good shape.

After completing Ironman Louisville in October of last year, I decided to take a break. My body was telling me to rest…so I did. After the race ended, I sat on my butt for two weeks. Then I did a few easy trainer rides and runs. I ate foods that I wouldn’t normally eat. I quickly put on 15 pounds to get back to my “normal”, non-race, weight. None of this is out of the ordinary for me once I do my last race of the season.

But something different happened this time around. The end of December came, and I still didn’t feel motivated to get back into hard training. January came and went…still not motived. I knew that I wanted to do some different kind of races in 2018, so I had signed up for an obstacle race and planned to do some cycling races. The triple crown road races are always on my schedule, so I did them. Not really feeling like pushing myself. Needless to say, I didn’t set any PR’s.

April was over and I still didn’t feel like doing any hard trainer rides. Or going to the track for some sprints. Or doing hill repeats. Or going to the pool to swim. I didn’t feel like doing these workouts that had been a staple to my training for years. I didn’t feel like doing them, so I didn’t. Back in January I told myself that I would “just do what I felt like” in 2018. I was definitely sticking to my word.

There were mornings that my alarm when off and I decided to just turn it off and get another hour of sleep instead of working out. 2017 Luke would never do that. Every workout was important to me in previous years and I was honestly excited to get up each morning and crush it. Not this year.

So when I showed up this past Sunday morning for Tri Louisville, I was excited, but uncertain what to expect. It was an Olympic distance triathlon. This consists of a 1500 meter swim, a 40K (24.8 miles) bike and a 10K (6.2 mile) run. I knew that the swim would be a struggle since I had literally only swam three times since last October! I hadn’t pushed myself hard on the bike in months, so how was I going to red-line it for an hour? The only thing I had been doing was running, but it was usually at a comfortable pace with a low heart rate. A race would be anything but a comfortable pace!

PC: Josh Couture

​PC:  Josh Couture

For the last seven or eight years, I’ve been fortunate enough to usually place pretty high in my Age Group. I’ve end managed to have some top three overall finishes and even win a race here or there. So when I get out there on race day, I expect to do well. By the time I got to the run on Sunday, I instantly knew that my lack of training was going to result in a poor performance. And it was a tough pill to swallow.

Anyone that knows me, knows that I’m a competitive person. I want to succeed in every aspect of my life. Winning feels good. Accomplishing big goals by putting in hard work is very rewarding. I told myself that 2018 would be a year to “just do what I feel like”, and I just haven’t felt like pushing myself to train for anything. I’m letting my body dictate what I do instead of my pre-determined training plan. I know that it’s good for my long-term health, but as I tried to push myself on the race course and my body just didn’t respond, I was pissed. Is this really what I want? To be out here racing, but not even be competitive?

​PC: Josh Couture

I tell people all the time that you get out what you put in. I haven’t put in the training, so what I got out was my slowest Olympic distance race in five years and a ninth-place finish in my Age Group.

I’ve done some soul searching since Sunday and while I was not happy (and even embarrassed) by my race, I’m ok with it. After coming home and venting to my very understanding wife, she told me what I already knew. If I wanted to do better on race day, I have to put in the training. I know that I have to take time to reboot physically and mentally, so I’m going to continue to do that…regardless of how it makes me look and feel on race day!

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Wishing you optimal health and peak performance,

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