It probably comes without saying the statement “the hay is in the barn” means all the hard work is done. It is often referenced in conversations related to endurance events or other athletic endeavors. I continually remind myself of this fact when I begin tapering or cutting back on the volume and intensity of training before a race.
Tapering is common at the end of a training program for an endurance event. The length of the taper and extent of the cutback in miles/hours will vary based on the race, the person and their goals, amongst other things.
Tapering, on one hand, is glorious. It’s a sign you’ve completed all your hard training efforts and have reached the end of your training plan. It means the event you have been training for is right around the corner. It’s also a time for your body to recover in advance of the demands you are going to ask of it.
On the other hand, though, tapering can be wrought with anxiety. Leading up to the taper, your body and mind have been so exhausted from the hours of training that you haven’t really had time to properly think about the race. Now with all this extra time and energy, your mind decides to do something to occupy it. Given we have pretty creative minds, it concocts crazy things for you to worry about.
At least this is true with me, so when I find myself freaking out about things, I continually remind myself “the hay is in the barn”. Here’s a taste of the internal conversation I have with myself:
Anxious me: What if I panic during this ocean swim? There could be sharks and jellyfish and rough seas.
Resilient me: Calm down Shan, let’s be logical. This race has taken place for 46 years. Not one person has been eaten by shark! There will be approximately 2,100 people thrashing about in the ocean, along with volunteers and race officials on kayaks, boats and paddleboards…all of that activity is enough to scare off any sea creatures. This will be the most beautiful IRONMAN swim you may ever have because of the crystal-clear water, and it will be comfortably warm. Plus, you know how to avert panic in the water…nice calm breathing, focus on your right arm pulling through the water…ok, now your left. Right…left…right…left…find the rhythm.
Anxious me: What if I have record slow times because of the difficulty of the course and unforgiving weather?
Resilient me: You have prepared for the course. You’ve even ridden it virtually on your trainer…at least 10 times. The climbing for the bike and run is no greater than your previous races. And you cannot control the weather or wind. Everyone will be faced with the same conditions. Worry about what you can control and focus on those things – you can control hydration and nutrition and you know your game plan. Focus on the execution of that and most importantly ENJOY the experience. Remember why you are there…you are racing in Mike’s memory and using this as an opportunity to raise awareness around pancreatic cancer.
Anxious me: What if I can’t finish the race?
Resilient me: The hay in the barn Shannon. Looking at your data, you have swum 143,038 yards, biked 2,714 miles and ran 502 miles since mid-March. And prior to that you completed 18 weeks of marathon training and completed a marathon. You have done the “extras” by adding in heat-acclimation training, prehab exercises for your nagging Achilles and neck, a stretching routine, breathing and visualization exercises. Not to mention you have developed a strong mental toughness game this year. YOU ARE READY! Just go out there and give it your best.
There are endless versions of this internal discussion. But reality is, it is up to me how I react to the anxiety, doubt and negativity. I choose to think positively about the effort I have put in to date and how excited I am to be racing in Hawaii. I like to reset my frame of mind by reminding myself I GET to swim in Kailua Bay, I GET to ride and run across the Big Island, and I GET to experience this amazing race I’ve strived so hard to get to. I’m proud of myself for putting in the hard work and getting to this point!
Talk about putting in the hard work…Sky Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Committee, the group of physicians, researchers and professionals that evaluates the applications submitted for seed grant awards, just completed their review and guided Sky’s Advisory Board in the selection of researchers. They poured over 39 submissions to determine which research is most needed and could have the greatest impact in the fight against pancreatic cancer.
Following their review, they suggested 3 researchers, which the Sky Advisory Board approved. Each of these researchers will receive a $50,000 grant, which helps researchers develop their work so they can successfully attract financial support from the National Institutes of Health and other national funding sources. Learn more about these grant recipients at Sky announces three 2023 $50,000 Grant Recipients. To help Sky increase its funding of researchers, you can donate via SHANNON’S IRONMAN – Campaign (classy.org)
Since its inception, Sky Foundation has funded over one million dollars in seed fund grants. They are continually adding hay to the barn!