Monday, December 10, 2018

Training & the art of letting go

In my little world, I see things like this.

Being active: Taking the stairs, parking in the last parking spot. Walking somewhere when you could drive. Riding your bike somewhere when you could drive.

Exercising: Making a conscious effort to move outside of being active. Taking a walk, going for a run, attending a class of some sort (martial arts, cross fit, TRX, yoga), without a performance goal at the end. (Although, there can be goals: wanting to do 20 pushups).

Training: The focus here is working on a performance goal. Training means following a plan, analyzing data or workouts, adjusting your nutrition to fuel for performance.

None of these are defined by hours of work.

Although, I see each of these in a progressive linear fashion, ie each one is a next step. Each of these is perfect. Each thing is exactly what you should be doing at different times in your life.

Many of you who read my blog nowadays have gotten bits & pieces of what has happened this year.

What you really need to know, is that 2018 was the worst year I've had in a very long time. I can't even think of another year, that was even close to 2018.  In fact, every time something bad happens, I now respond with "because 2018".

Back in June or July, Coach Liz and I talked about how to continue my year. At that time, I decided to continue on with my very watered down training plan.

Looking back now, that was a mistake. I should have stopped all training. The stress took it's toll on me. I couldn't physically get through workouts.

Thank you to those of you who stuck with me; even when I was pushing you away.

When my last race came up, I kept saying "just get through this race. Then, take as much time off as you need".

Liz would check on me to see how things were going; even though I wasn't working with her at the time.

As the weeks and then months went on, I realized that what I wanted to do was stop training. STOP all training and just do whatever I wanted to do when I woke up.

I signed up for a 5k race series, one that I haven't done in years but I love so much.

Of course, the 1st race came up quickly. I realized I hadn't run in about 2 weeks. I hit panic training mode and absolutely surprised myself by running 3 minutes faster than I thought I would. I didn't have any goals or expectations. I knew I wasn't in 5k shape, given that I just did a 70.3, and I was still emotionally recovering from the combination of training and life stuff.

For awhile, there was SO MUCH NOISE about next year. I knew I was nowhere near being able to train. For the first time in awhile, I was starting to enjoy just being active and exercising with no analysis, expectations, or obligations for how long or how hard I went. The last thing I wanted to do was to go back into that world of training again.

But I waited. I waited and waited. Black friday came and went.....a long with it....all those discounted race entries.

Then, I made the decision. I was going to take off 2019.

Believe it or not. I didn't tell anyone. I told a few people what I was thinking of doing. But, I couldn't get to the point where I felt the decision was real.

I think it was because sometimes people have a hard time understanding. I didn't really want to deal with all that.

I don't mean this in a drama queen way. Please understand, that I was getting ready to do something that I hadn't done before. Cutting out something that took so much physical and emotional energy every week, even when it's quite a change.

Over time, I came to realize that "Yes, taking time off is not only what I need to do, I really want to do it".

Then came the next worst part. I was going to have to tell Liz that I wasn't coming back for 2019. I wrote an email and sat on it for 2 weeks, tweaking it. When I read the final version, I was in tears.

That's how you know you have a great relationship with your coach. It gutted me having to write it. She has done so much more for me than just help me achieve my performance goals.

She made me a better person. Knowing her has changed my life.

I sent the email.

Not 30 seconds later, I get a text from her. She was SO understanding. She knew exactly where I was coming from. I told her that I'll be back to the sport, but I need this time off. I don't know how much time I need.

After that, I felt better than I had in a year.

I've always been one to buck the trend. As other athletes kept wanting to go further and further and more extreme, I've held my ground with a focus on shorter distances. There is nothing wrong with going further and further. It just seems like it has become the expectation. I've never done a race because everyone else is doing it.I've always done what is right for me at a particular time in my life. MANY times I've been asked about WHEN I'm going to do IM. The fact is, probably never.

This time is no different. I've already been asked:

Aren't you afraid of losing fitness? 

Uh no.

What about Nationals? 

I've done it many times. It'll still be there when I get back.

You've worked so hard to get where you are, now you're just going to stop?

Well. Yeah. Sort of.

Wait. You're just going to STOP being a triathlete? 

Yep, until further notice anyway.

NOT training doesn't mean becoming a couch potato.

I'm going to work on everything that I haven't been able to because of training. I'm going to do things that I haven't had time for. I'm going to run races and strength train like Ahnold. I'm going to do more open water swimming because I love it.

I want to work on the details that I have been ignoring.