I'm a data driven athlete – I like to analyse things, even overanalyse at times. However, this isn't always a good thing. Following Ironman Arizona – which in all honesty was a disappointment – my natural reaction was to search for answers as to why things didn't go as planned. Instead, I let it go. For three weeks I shut my body and mind down, taking the longest break from training since taking up triathlon in 2007. Stopping training is one thing, but trying to switch your mind off from all thoughts triathlon related is another thing entirely. The break has done me the world of good as I feel mentally rejuvenated and physically fresh, if a little unfit!
I thought the immediate disappointment from Arizona might fade, but it didn't. Whilst I felt I'd let down others, above all else Arizona hurt me. What hurt wasn't only the result, but that I just didn't want it enough. I was prepared to endure but not to suffer, and ultimately, success in long distance racing comes down to that – you've got to suffer, then suffer more. I wasn't prepared to suffer - analysis over. No data can quantify your mental strength or willingness to bury yourself. It's all in the head and the heart.
The question is, when the time comes to suffer again, will I be able to not only accept it, but embrace it? I hope that Copenhagen proved the answer to that can be yes, but I came up short in Arizona and the question has resurfaced. All I can do is train and be prepared to answer that question affirmatively next time. There will be opportunities in 2014 – opportunities to see exactly how much I want it, to see if I can achieve something more than I have this year. I plan on taking them.