What are you willing to accept as fast enough? When you get satisfied with what you do. The fear of success. Yes, fear. In the hierarchy of human needs, one is to be loved. If you go "too fast" or are "too successful" there is actually a fear that people won't love you any more. This is an irrational fear but a real one. I see it in friends, colleagues and in other athletes at all levels in all sports. This is human.
Where I am...
I am not fast enough. (Let's face it, most of us aren't.) The question I ask daily is, "Is this the best I could do today?" I try to balance work, education, my family and not be a slave to triathlon or any other sport for that matter. Years back I was actually proud of the fact that I had seen every second of every Chicago Bears game since I was 6 yrs old. I woke up in my mid-20s and realized...that isn't something to be proud of because that is pathetic. Instead of having a life myself (either going to the game or having something more important to do) I would spend three to four hours every Sunday in front of the television watching overpaid, overweight over hyped people play a game. I decided back then that I wouldn't watch other people live their lives on a box in my living room.
So I began to workout, a lot. At some point, TV didn't matter. Pop culture started to fly by the window of my life and I wasn't missing a thing. (Especially since my wife would watch The Soup on E! The show sums up pop culture and rips on it in about 30 minutes.) So I'd stretch and laugh.
The other day I rode with Liz. We did a lot of tough hills and then on the flats (returning to the edge of civilization) I looked down and noticed that we were holding a pace at ~70 miles that was faster than I had gone in a half IM. Part of me was happy. My cycling fitness is solid right now. In the back of my head I heard a voice saying, "That's not the best you can do. You still aren't there yet but nice job today." I am not satisfied but I am glad to be where I am in late April. Just think of what I can do this year and more importantly next year when I return to Ironman. I will continue to work on my cycling because what I am doing is working.
I apply this logic to swimming and running to. Now, my running is far behind where it really should be due to injury but remember that this is a building process. I'm not satisfied with where I am, but today is all I have. My swimming is OK, but not for a former Div. I swimmer who trained with the IM Hawaii record holder as well as some of the fastest swimmers in the country. Holding 1:12/100 yards sucks, let's be honest. In a few short weeks, holding 1:05/100 meters will allow me to "hold on" in workouts. These swim times do put me in the front end of my age group at just about every race but so what if it isn't the top of my potential?
Don't except "fast enough". Get to your potential. Ask yourself honestly, is this my best?
Really? Now answer honestly. We are looking for the next level sh*t.
When you break these false expectations is when personal, course and world records begin to fall.