Margie Ellison | Bodybuilding & Half Distance Ironman Prep | 7&6 Weeks Out Update

Training and Nutrition log for the week of April 24 and May 1, 2017  7 and 6 weeks out from the NGA Amateur Southeast Natural Championships, then 4 weeks after that, the Triple Bypass 120mi. cycling race through the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

I’m not going to talk much about training and nutrition during today’s update. I’ll give a few updates in the video blog, but I want to shift today’s focus. Rather, I’m going to take the opportunity to talk more about the mental and emotional side of this journey. I think the mental and emotional aspect is just as important as the physical aspect to growth and progress.

Mindset and perspective: these are two very powerful tools I don’t believe we fully take advantage of. There are certain situations we are put in where there’s simply nothing we can do to change the situation. BUT, with a specific mindset and/or perspective, how that situation effects us can vary greatly. With my situation, there’s not much I can do to change what is required. If I want to look as conditioned as possible when I step on the stage, and then 4 weeks later cycle 120 miles to cross the finish line, I have to follow the plan to a T. What I can change, though, is my mindset and perspective along the way.

In the last few weeks, I’ve let prep take a huge hit on my mental and emotional health. Physical progress with my physique and endurance is definitely occurring, but I was getting into the detrimental habit of letting negativity take over my mind and body. Stage day and race day is getting closer, which means things are getting harder. Calories are decreasing, endurance volume is increasing, I was letting my mind go crazy. I found myself fixating on the fact that I’m cycling nearly 100 miles, running 10-15 miles, and swimming over 2 miles a week, then throw in lifting 5x a week, all while on a high caloric deficit. Training high volume like this on barely enough fuel to get by is definitely physically demanding, but that’s not the hard part. The hard part is telling myself to keep going when I have 15 miles left on a ride, pushing my mind to not quit on the last 500m of a swim, or not saying fuck and turning those last few 400m repeats into a steady state run. Training for physique sports is already hard enough, now throw in a high volume endurance event just 4 weeks after stepping on stage. Fuck. I will always keep things real and be 100%, this is not easy. I was looking at this journey the wrong way, and it was taking a toll on all aspects of my life.

Last week I was speaking with my strength coach and nutrition coach, Annie Gunshow and Josh Citron (who are damn saints for putting up with my prep emotions), about having a hard time dealing with things mentally and emotionally. I asked them if they had any tips for pushing through the tough bits, to which they followed with some awesome advice. Something Josh said really hit and helped me shift gears, “We live in a society where we are able to choose to not eat.” Between that, and the rest of the conversation, I realized I had the absolute worst perspective I could for this prep. I told myself I was done with the negative bullshit. No one is forcing me to do this, and my life doesn’t depend on me competing in two opposing events. I am making the choice to go through the hunger and push through the training because I want to experience the challenge along the way and the reward I will receive in the end (not a participation medal or trophy, don’t get your panties in a bunch). I was also choosing to look at this process negatively, and allowed it to bring me down emotionally and mentally. Why would I do that? Why would I let doing what I am passionate about negatively effect me? I couldn’t tell you, to be honest.

So, after a weekend of thought and contemplation, I told myself enough. Monday morning I woke up, changed my perspective, and got my shit done. 6 weeks out and I’m feeling extremely refreshed. I’m looking at the fatigue and hunger as progress and growth. This is a journey not many will take on, and for that I am thankful I am healthy enough to take it on myself.

If there’s anything you take from following my journey, let it be this: find something you can do that will challenge you. Let it drag you down, pick you up, make you stronger, but most importantly make you happy. Putting time and effort into things that don’t make us happy is a complete waste. It’s important to remember things won’t always be sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns. But if it makes you a better person, improves your life, and leaves you happy, then you’re doing life right.