Journey to the Ironman: Turning Roadblocks to Rest Stops

Written by Jonathan Mackintosh

We have all heard the feel-good stories of those that overcame significant odds to become champions. While those are incredible inspirations, it usually only takes a small circumstance to sideline the rest of us.

My situation falls into the “small circumstance” category for most, but it provided me a necessary lesson for continuing to endure within my bubble.

I have been bothered by a tendon in my right leg (above the heel but below the calf), which is likely my Soleus muscle or my Achilles tendon (Courtesy of  Google). I had taken a long break (around 6 weeks) and stopped running altogether in hopes that healing would occur, but this past week when I was out for my victory run in sunny San Diego, I began to feel the pain return.

road-blockNow many thoughts assailed me in the first moments of feeling the pain and amongst those thoughts was the crushing premonition that my Ironman adventure was at an end. It is difficult to run a marathon when you can’t run (weird how that works). I came back to Colorado feeling, to be honest, a bit defeated by the giant boulder of injury sitting smack dab in the middle of my journey.

Then I was reminded of something that has been a driver for me throughout this process:

Don’t turn a rest stop into a roadblock.

I am working to stop looking at the injury as the end all and start exploring how I can work within the limitations of where I am at physically. I can swim, I can ride, I can pretend I am good at dancing and I can certainly manage my nutrition.

And, it turns out, I am fairly ignorant when it comes to understanding the human body. Mind blown. The injury could be short-term recoverable and with caution, I could be back up and running in a couple of weeks. Even if it is a long-term healing process the end goal is worth the struggle (or hobble) to get there.

Injuries, work, family dynamics, these can all create pauses in the pursuit. There have been many times throughout this process that I have needlessly benched myself because I thought I was incapable of taking the necessary steps forward. I was turning a momentary disruption into a permanent decision. Naughty naughty (my finger is waggling)!

I am training not just my body to endure, but there is a mental training component as well. I am establishing my own understanding of what I am capable of. As I accomplish the little things, overcoming the little roadblocks, I pick up speed and momentum. From what I can gather, Ironman athletes don’t rely on their body to not become exhausted during the race, because it will. Instead, they rely on the belief that they can outlast the exhaustion (although the less training, the more faith necessary).

Perseverance builds the character necessary to endure (borrowed a bit from the Bible there).

I am still learning and relearning how to work on, through, around this injury, but I am also working to look outside of my extremely limited mental perspective. All I see is the boulder, because that is where I am at, but I have a family, a community and a Google that will help me overcome my roadblocks.

I choose to continue to run the race as if to obtain the prize (thank you again Bible).

Training

Jonathan Mackintosh Frozen BeardWe are coming to the end of our pre-training training and I am attempting to gear up quickly for the real meat of my training adding some two-a-days to the plans for time efficiency. I continue to bike in the freezing cold and I had my first frozen beard experience which made me feel tough for a bit. Swimming is going well, though I almost drowned myself in a 4 foot pool trying to learn how to do flip turns. Evidently you’re supposed to breathe before or after the flip, not during.  I believe this to be a key life lesson.

Nutrition

On top of my daily supplements (Nussentials’ Core, Less and Alert) I am adding Nussential’s Run and some fish oil to my nutrition to see if it helps at all with the healing process in my leg. I will keep you posted.

Recipe

My current favorite breakfast is a protein rich take on a classic: Egg McMuffin

I substitute the English muffin with whole wheat toast, add avocado and spinach. To make it quickly, I cook my eggs in a ramekin in the microwave at 60% power for 2 ½ minutes (cover with seran wrap).

Ends up looking just like McDonald’s but on steroids and far more delicious.

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