August 28th, 2023

Small Gains

The path to improvement is a game of inches, won through small, consistent gains and a healthy dose of patience. What I've come to realize through this experience is that reaching my overarching goals hinges on the accumulation of many individual workouts, each contributing to the larger picture of progress.

I've been focused on my workouts lately, neglecting to journal my experiences aside from workout recaps. However, as I approach the halfway mark of my training plan, it seems like an opportune moment to reflect.

Initially, I despised the 20-minute workouts. They felt trivial, almost like a waste of time. Completing a 20-minute run and calling it a day seemed counterproductive. While I could have pushed myself further, adhering to the plan has proven to be incredibly beneficial in ways I hadn't fully appreciated.

The most significant benefit has been injury prevention. In past training cycles, I often reached this point only to find myself grappling with some physical issue, causing my mental resilience to plummet. The thought would cross my mind: "Here we go again, off to physical therapy." However, by respecting my current limitations, I've managed to stay injury-free. While there's still time for things to go awry, I feel mentally stronger and more confident than before.

My progress may not be as rapid as I'd like, but it's evident. I see improvements across the board: my runs feel less strenuous, my pace per mile is improving, and my base 100 for swimming is getting better. I can discern a noticeable difference between pushing myself and cooling down. Additionally, my cycling performance remains strong, even though I'm only riding three times a week. At my peak, I had a 150+ day streak on the Peloton, and while I did incorporate recovery days, I believe the high volume ultimately did more harm than good.

I've always known the importance of a balanced approach—I even preached it during my time as a swim coach. Experiencing the benefits firsthand has been both humbling and reassuring. As I grow older and hopefully wiser, I aim to carry this newfound perspective into my upcoming race and next year's 70.3 event.