Monday, March 13, 2017

Training Makes Me an Idiot

One of the side effects of training a lot is that it messes with my brain chemistry. This is especially the case if I also don't eat or sleep enough. When this happens, I get depressive and have irrational thoughts. And even though I know, logically, that what I'm feeling is absurd, I can't help it.

It doesn't make me want to jump off a building or anything insane. But it does make me say really stupid things sometimes. I'm already my own worst critic. But when I get in this mood, I say things to belittle myself. This is annoying on its own. But it has the unintended result of belittling others as well.

If I work out for 3 hours, and then complain about how lazy I am, it insults everyone else who exercises, especially if they exercised for "only" an hour or two. If I feel like a wimp for using a treadmill because the weather is just too awful, it insults anyone else who uses a treadmill. If I complain about how slow or weak I am, it insults anyone who hasn't yet achieved my paces or level of fitness. And it even insults those who train just as hard, and know how hard it is to train to that extent.

"I don't train at all. And it's awesome. Try it some time."

Being critical of myself is good in that it pushes me to work harder. But not if it causes me to push myself past my breaking point. And especially not if it causes me to lose the people I care about. I've mentioned on this blog many times now important it is to have love and companionship in my life. And yet I act in a way that pushes people away.

A lot of folks tell me I should eat more. I've been trying to! But I'm fairly certain that I still have malabsorption issues from the nasty stomach thing I had in January. It goes away, but then the discomfort comes back after a particularly intense workout. It generally takes me forever to recover from anything. I've had tennis elbow (not from tennis) for over a month. Swimming is keeping that from healing too.

It all turns into a nasty self-reinforcing effect. I exercise a lot. My brain gets screwy and I feel bad. And because I feel bad I feel like I need to punish myself. So I exercise even harder, and say stupid things that pi$$ everyone off. Rinse repeat. Hooray!

The easy advice is to just work out less. But I'm training for an Ironman. I don't know what I can cut out. It's a struggle for me to get three swims in a week. Usually I get "only" two. I bike about three times a week, but only one of those is a long bike ride that's over 2 hours. I maybe run a little too much, but I barely hit 30 miles per week. I lift once a week, which is about all I can manage right now.

"I'm fine. Pay no attention to
gaunt, bleeding man in the mirror."

Of course, training is hard for everyone. And not just for triathletes. Even when I "just" ran, I would burn out from a 50, 60, or higher mile week. When I see folks post their epic workouts, it's easy to imagine that it's no big deal for them. So I judge myself that I can't just bounce back from a half marathon or a 3 hour bike ride. But I know I'm being ridiculous.

I'm pretty sure I'll be "one and done" after this Ironman. Even if it's an awesome experience (and I hope it will be!). I just don't like myself like this. I've learned a lot in the past few years, and finally feel like I know what my limits are and what I enjoy. I'm at a point where I don't feel the need to constantly show off with insane workouts.

I'm committed to the Ironman, and I'm excited about it. So I will stick it out, and try to be conscientious of my attitude and behavior in the meantime. The Ironman is a big thing on my bucket list, and it's worth a few months of pain and grief. And after that, I'll be in a place where I can say, "you know, I did something pretty epic. I don't need to keep proving myself." I can shape a life for myself that brings joy not only to me, but to others as well.

And maybe stop taking so many
obnoxious selfies.

So to anyone I've upset, I'm sorry. Know that it's a personal thing, and not because I'm trying to be a jacka$$. I really am amazed and inspired by every athlete I see, even the ones who only just started and can barely run a mile. I've been through the entire trajectory. I can remember a time when one mile was hard for me. Really hard.

I didn't judge myself back then though. I laughed, because my puppy would get completely buried in snow when she accidentally ran into a snowdrift. I didn't compare myself to anyone else, and I didn't have an image I felt compelled to uphold. And I know now that there's a compromise between not caring, and caring too much. The Ironman is the finish line. After that I can relax, enjoy, and stop being such an idiot!

"Stop taking me outside when
there's a foot of snow!"
Also, daylight savings time can go screw itself.

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