In 2014 I ran two sub 4 hour marathons in both of my Ironman races. Over the offseason I expected that I would improve for 2015.
It didn't. In fact, I had poorer performances in my marathons at each of my two Ironmans this year. I knew I could get better, but instead I got worse. Not from lack of trying.
My training had me pacing at below 8 minute miles, which "should" have resulted in a sub 3:30 marathon. And now after both Ironmans, despite feeling fully recovered, I'm now pacing at over 10 minute miles.
It is really annoying.
But that is my ego talking, which it's a pitfall of getting better.
When we're congratulated for a job well done, rewarded for a great performance, or reach a new milestone, it is easy for our egos to have us believe that we can no longer fall below that new benchmark, and when we do, it is catastrophic failure.
Don't get me wrong, we should always celebrate achieving something great. Our accomplishments are worth celebrating. However, allowing our egos to get in the way will quickly move us from celebrating to thinking of what more we can accomplish. We become greedy.
It is ironic that we can gain a bit of humility, recognize ego as one of our shortcomings, and strive to better ourselves to remove that shortcoming, and as a result of getting better, reintroduce ego into our lives.
This battle with ego is not a battle we can win, it is a continuous challenge. Despite our egotistical nature of wanting to "win" everything, we have to acknowledge this ot as a battle with ego, but instead an exercise in humility. It is a chance to continue getting better, even in failure.
I'm not sure how or if my running will improve over this offseason, but I will control what I can, which is to put one foot in front of the other as fast as my body will allow. I will try my best to not allow myself to fall into the pit of ego, but try to practice humility through failure and success.