Iron Lent

Now that I’m training again, I get glimpses into my past life. Especially recurring ‘phases’ of my training cycle that I repeated year after year. These ‘phases’ were so engrained in my yearly rhythm that the training that went along with each ‘phase’ was as normal as birthdays, holidays, and the 4th of July. So, as we enter the Lenten season, one of my most meaningful ‘phases’ came to mind. I want to share it with you.

Below, I re-posted a blog entry that I wrote in 2006.  In 2006, I was deep into Ironman training.  And deep into philosophizing about training. I spent a lot of time laying down the base miles in January and February and was itching to get out and get the season going.

Lent typically fell at the same time I was transitioning from my long, winter base training to faster, outdoor race-specific training.   I really enjoyed this time of year because I made significant, measurable gains each week. It is in this spirit that I repost my Iron Lent blog, verbatim, from 2006.

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Iron Lent has begun. 

Every year I use the Lenten Season to help me set training targets, specifically targets that allow me to focus my training towards the upcoming race season.  Normally, I hear of people giving up something for Lent – ice cream, meat, food, sex, whatever.  For me, I use Lent as a time to reflect on what it takes to be good – the sacrifices that one makes to reach a target.  Lent falls during the time of year that I need to start getting serious about training.

Typically, I spend December taking it easy, seeing family, and eating.  January kicks off the new year’s training, but normally the consistency is not there.  Weather, injuries, lack of motivation, and tiredness are all reasons to stay in bed instead of going out and training.  It is easy to rest when you aren’t fit.  BUT, Lent kicks me in the butt to get serious about training.

From my time attending church, I remember the discussions about Lent and what it meant to people.  But, on a personal level, what I very clearly remember was my level of fitness (or lack of) on Ash Wednesday.  I knew that I had a good base, but I also knew I had a lot of work to do before I would be ready to race.  I made training plans for myself that targeted getting my fitness to a certain level by Easter.

I used the reflectiveness and discipline of the Lenten season to become very focused on the consistency and habits that were necessary to reach these targets.  It wasn’t an overhaul of my lifestyle, but rather a fine-tuning of the details that get easily neglected when we aren’t focused.  So, as I sat in church every Sunday during the Lenten season, I reflected back to the previous Sunday and took note of the progress my body and mind made towards the goal over the past week.

So, instead of giving up something during Lent, I ADDED the awareness of consistency and habits that are necessary for success.  But, I suppose if I were to give up anything for Lent it would be the lazy, complacent  lifestyle that it is so easy to fall into but prevents us from realizing our potential.

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So, on March 6, join me on a 40-day journey where we commit to ADDING the consistency and habits and commit to GIVE UP the laziness and complacency.

“Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy”
                                                        – Pope Francis