Ironman Training Update – 12/8/2017

Even with winter upon us here in western North Carolina, and over seven inches of snow on the ground right now, my training continues as I journey to complete a full Ironman in 2019.IMG_20171208_170213

My training regimen is a little different than it was leading up to some of my last races, but it’s still intense, nevertheless. Over the past month, instead of mostly running, I have added much more weight training and cross training to change it up and build strength. I have also joined some intense spin classes and a class that included TRX, a body-weight suspension system. I was so sore after that workout.

I have been able to get in the pool a few times too, something that I really enjoy. When I’m in the water, I feel so relaxed and calm. The water drowns out all noises and distractions and allows me to just be to myself for an hour or so.IMG_20171207_134650

Yesterday, I had an intense swim workout. Previously, I would just get in the pool and swim laps for 30 to 45 minutes, eyeing the clock on the wall every time I made a turn on the wall. Yesterday, though, I completed a good session that focused, not just on the distance, but my technique. For the first time this year, I used all the swim accessories, like the pull buoy, hand paddles, fins and the kick board. These accessories make me focus on having proper mechanics, helping me to be more efficient with my stroke. If I am going to swim over two miles in open water, I must be as efficient as possible, not only to finish the swim, but to have the energy left for the bike and the run legs of the race.

Last weekend, my sister Lacy and her husband Walker, invited me on a trail run with them. They are training for a marathon in February and wanted to run part of the course. Only once this year, have I run over ten miles; Lacy wanted to run twelve to fifteen, on a trail, and mostly up hill the first half of the out and back route.

I kept trying to find excuses not to go. When I would think about the run Lacy was describing, I feared the elevation change. As you all may have noticed from previous posts or my Instagram feed, I love running at the lake and my routes there are mostly flat as a board.

Mid-afternoon last Friday though, I thought why not, I can give it a shot. I am so glad I did. It was the best run I have done all year and motivated me to find more trails to explore, even if they are uphill

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Last Saturday’s run was my first trail run. It was tough, increasing in elevation by about 1,800 feet, but it was over six and a half miles up, meaning it was a “gradual” incline. After we turned around, I found it more difficult coming down. While I could go a little faster, I had to control my descent, focusing on where my feet were landing. It would be so easy to twist an ankle, or worse, trip on a rock and face plant into the rocks and roots that made up this trail.

I am so glad Lacy and Walker encouraged me to run with them last Saturday. We ended up running over 13 miles and I found a new love for trail running. I look forward to the next trail run in my future. In fact, Lacy has invited me to run with them tomorrow, but I believe I have a pretty good excuse not too as there is seven inches of snow on the ground.

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I feel my training is going well and I am feeling very confident where I am on my way to the half Ironman in 2018 and the full Ironman in 2019.

Have a great weekend everyone. If you’re in the path of the winter storm that is hovering over us right now, enjoy the snow and stay warm.

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What really is an Ironman?

What really is an Ironman?

Is an Ironman that superhero that uses his suit and special powers to protect the world and conquer evil? Is an Ironman what I want to be called when I complete the most challenging endurance race in the world, pushing my strength and endurance to their limits for over 140 miles?

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The answer is yes, both descriptions fit the definition of being an Ironman. Recently though, I was struck by the question, “Matthew, what truly is an Ironman?”

That question got me thinking about being an Ironman in the context as a man, a dad, a son, or a friend. It got me thinking that an Ironman means being something much more than being a fictional superhero or an extremely fit endurance athlete?

Being a true Ironman really doesn’t require swimming, biking or running over 140 miles as fast as you can, or having fictional superhero super powers. Being a true Ironman means having the strength to stand up for and to fight for those you love. It means having the endurance to live each day with integrity and honor.

A true Ironman is strong, confident, and fully committed to protecting those who put their faith and trust in me. It means being the rock that those around me can rely on always being there. It’s having the strength, determination and courage to do what is right, even when it’s hard.

Being an Ironman is being patient when patience is being asked of me. It’s respecting the needs of someone else, even when it may mean having faith and letting go.

An Ironman is not the saying, but the doing.

It doesn’t sound like it would be all that hard to be this kind of Ironman, but it is. As parents, as adults, as human beings, we face challenges every day that test our abilities to be an Ironman for our children or those we love. We get impatient or we let pride and selfishness get in the way, keeping us from being what our loved ones need, or causing us to make choices that may hurt them.

Like in training for the ultimate endurance race, being a real Ironman takes determination and commitment. It’s learning from past mistakes and doing the next right thing that will allow me to be an Ironman and be a better dad and a better man.

Yes, I am going to continue to train to complete the world’s most challenging endurance race, but more importantly, I’m going to focus harder on giving everything I can to be a true Ironman each day for the ones I love.

I would rather my children call me an Ironman by the way I live my life each day, than as an Ironman who crosses a finish line at a race.

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I want to be an Ironman

“Matthew Wells, you are an Ironman.”  That’s what I want to hear in 2019 when I cross the finish line at my first Ironman Triathlon, a 140-mile endurance race, consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, followed by a 26.22-mile run. Over the next two years, I have decided to embark on a journey to complete the full Ironman and I’d love to take you all with me as I plan, train, and participate in the events that will lead to the destination I have in my sights.

It’s funny how five months ago, I never would’ve said I wanted to attempt the ultimate fitness challenge of completing a full Ironman triathlon. Swimming over two miles, biking 112-miles seems very daunting, but to have to run a full marathon after those two segments, just didn’t seem like something I’d ever want to do, until now.

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I know it sounds so crazy, but over the past five months, I have gained so much confidence from my training and in my abilities, I have decided that I want to be an Ironman.

Back in May, I was just getting into a consistent training plan for sprint triathlons. Now, after months of training and participating in a couple of short-distance triathlons, I get the twitches if I go more than a day without exercising. Running five miles now is easy. Five months ago, I was struggling to run two.

I am ready for this challenge. I am ready to be an Ironman.

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This journey is going to be tough, though. There will be lots of sweat, soreness and exhaustion as I strive to achieve this goal. I will have to make some sacrifices that are going to be difficult to make. There will probably even be times when I don’t want to train and thoughts of giving up may enter my mind. But, I’m going to give it everything I have to become an Ironman.

I want to share this journey because I feel my readers, along with the support of those close to me, will keep me accountable and keep encouraging me as I strive to accomplish this difficult goal. It’s not going to be easy. I realize that going into it.

Life as a working dad is hard enough on its own, but to add more training to the already packed calendar, will be tremendously challenging. My training plan will gradually increase to ten to fifteen hours a week. Currently, I’m spending about six hours a week running, preparing for a 10k race later this month. Once I get past this upcoming race, I’ll add more variety to my training over the winter with a regimen of weight training, swimming, biking and running.

With three very active kids, a demanding job and a very blessed life to live, a flexible training schedule is a necessity.  My training plan will have to include many early morning training sessions, as well as some late evening sessions, if I’m going to accomplish my goal of becoming an Ironman in 2019.

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I look forward to this challenge and to having you all join me on this journey. You’ll be able to follow me here on my blog and across my social media channels every step of the way.

It’s going to be raw, real and fun. Push me, pull me, motivate me and encourage me. Failure is not an option.

I know I have what it takes. In 2019, I will be an Ironman!