Sunday, September 17, 2017

It's Easy to get Stuck

It's easy to get stuck in your own head. Or maybe it's just me. Maybe everyone else lives moment to moment, rejoicing in the vast beauty of existence. At least their social media makes it seem that way. But then, everything I post makes it look like I'm an overflowing fountain of adventure and giggles.

In between those "look at me! Life is a never-ending fountain of unfiltered joy!" selfies, my brain is a churning cauldron of harsh self-awareness and judgment. The problem is that I'm always thinking, every minute, every hour, every day. But growth, success, and any goal you wish to achieve takes time.

A lot of time.
"I don't care how long it takes.
I'm going to eat all of this grass.
Then they'll have to feed me cookies."

And if you're analyzing and over-analyzing every minuscule step of the way, it's going to feel like you're making no progress, or even that you're getting worse. If my weight yesterday was 175 pounds, and my weight today is 180, I'm going to think, "holy sh*t! I just gained 5 pounds!" Nevermind that I weighed myself yesterday after a sweat-tastic workout. And I weighed myself today after I ate enough mac and cheese last night to fill a pool.

Yesterday I did the United Way for Cortland sprint tri. It was awesome! For the first time ever, my swim speed was under 2 minutes per 100yd (1:53). My bike was just shy of 20mph. Both those things were the fastest they've ever been! I've been doing tris for over a year now. And in that time I've had a thousand critical thoughts.

I compared my performance in the five sprint tris I've done since I started 15 months ago. My swim has gotten faster every time, starting at about 2:48 per 100 to yesterday's 1:53. My slowest bike was 16.8mph versus yesterday's 19.7. My run has been pretty flat.

I always smile after the swim, but this time I meant it!
Photo cr. Geoffrey

That's months in between each tri though. On a day to day basis, there's no measurable progress, and it's easy to get fixated on that. There were some periods when I thought I was getting consistently worse. I swam this morning and it was slow. The pool was super warm and I was still tired from yesterday. I had to force myself not to think, "oh no, yesterday was the highlight of my swimming and it's all gone now!"

I think a lot of athletes can get trapped in this. Sickness, injuries, and overtraining make it even worse. And if those athletes are anything like me, they push themselves too hard. They try to compensate for their perceived weakness with even more training, which only makes things worse. If you've followed my blog, you know how much I hate resting.

This past week though, I took 3 days off of cardio. Three!! That's unheard of for me. But I had fallen into my typical trap. After Ironman Mont Tremblant, I jumped right back into training. I wanted to - really wanted to - try to qualify for Boston at Wineglass. That was ridiculous. My marathon PR is a little under 3:15. Assuming my running fitness is the same, I'd have to shave 5 minutes off to qualify. Of course with my shift to triathlons, it's not the same.

Awesome, sure, but not helping my running any!

I rode the edge of injury and exhaustion for the past few weeks. I finally realized that I was being stupid and that my goal was obscene. All that would happen is that I would blow up at Wineglass and end up super disappointment. I've had that happen a lot. Against all odds, I've learned my lesson! I took a much-needed break.

When you train, you have to look at the big picture. That's really hard to do. But progress happens over months and years, not days. When you lose sight of that, you do things that actually hamper your progress. I've seen people injure themselves so badly from overtraining that they've essentially had to quit altogether.

That would kill me.

I have to remember that. My training is my identity. If I lost it, I would lose myself. And the fact that I'm able to do it is truly a gift. Some of my best workouts weren't fast. But they were joyful. They were workouts were I didn't look at the watch and just enjoyed the breeze. Enjoyed the cool rush of the water. Enjoyed coasting down a big hill. Workouts were I could close my eyes (for a couple seconds) and feel the warmth of the sun on my skin and the wind in my face. Workouts were I just felt alive.

Also, this happened:

I really shouldn't put this in a place
where it's publicly accessible...

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