Endurance training can take a toll on you physically and mentally. From the daunting hours put in running, swimming and biking, your body takes a beating, but also your mental state. It is important to always keep the reason you are doing this in perspective and what you must accomplish to meet your goal.
These goals can range from just completing a race or a specific time on that day. My goal is to qualify for Kona to race with my Dad. Many times I wonder if this is a realistic goal. This just adds to the mental fatigue of the long process of Ironman training. When I'm feeling exhausted and at a loss to get to my next training session I have two things that get me there, my teammates and my coach. These two groups are the reason I can pull through the tired, agonizing days because they are in it with me. We all don't have the same down days, so pulling each other through is an all too important aspect of our training.
Having a coach was one of the best decisions for my adventure into Ironman. Michael McCormack (M2 as he calls himself) has been instrumental in our groups progression through intermediate triathletes, to full blown Ironman athletes. Coaching is a very tricky thing to be good at. Its not just about laying out workouts, or strategies. To get to your best performance, many times you need someone to pull it out of you. You see this in regular life with parents and mentors and with a monumental event in Ironman, it is almost necessary if you want to be at your peak. M2 has a way to read people and figure out the best way to get them going. For me it is competition and some positive reinforcement. I'm sure he could sense my exhaustion this week and he was there to instill some faith that what I was improving from what he has seen over the past month. In his group spin classes he has a great "duel" workout to passively give a goal to everyone who wants it by giving the "easy" workout for beginners, and the hard workout for his Ironman/veteran athletes. Subconsciously people will want to get to the hard workout, and probably try it without the risk of opening themselves up to failure. These types of motivational pieces are insurmountable in the coaching world and to have someone in your corner who knows how and when to apply them is invaluable.