Friday, 28 May 2010

The Ups and Downs of endurance training. The Downs.....

Since the Paris marathon but very noticeably over the last week I have been increasingly unmotivated to traing. I've fitted a few key sessions in and had a very good race at the Marshman Plus so it would seem all is on track. However, I have also missed some key sessions and am now relying on a base of fitness that is diminshing by the day. I can't out my finger on what it is - I have had lots of discussions with people who have done the Double before and it seems this lull is pretty normal and I am trying not to get worried. However, I have also felt increasingly reluctant to take time away for the time I can spend with Adam as it is now less than a month until he is posted OOA for a tour of 6 months. I have no idea how this is affecting me subconsciously but it has definitely made me aware of what is important in my life and triathlon has become increasingly less. Since we have become engaged I have really been focused on us and our future and spending time with family and friends has become so important and something we don't get to do enough of. I have also been thinking a lot about where my future in the RAF lies and what I will want to do when I do decide to move on. All of these thoughts are big considerations and have impeded the focus I need to knuckle down and get on with training.

I have however also been a bit ill. I think I am suffering for adult onset hayfever. I have never had this before but Adam suffers quite badly. I have had more headaches, tired eyes and pain behind the bridge of my nose. I have also, over the last three days felt absolutely knocked for six! I had a day off on Wednesday and was determined to try and get some quality training in. I wanted to do a minimum of 70miles on the bike with a 10mile run off. What did I manage? 42miles. I just felt exhausted. It was a big mental struggle as I felt mentally strong enough that if I had to I could have pushed on but I felt it was the right thing to do to stop. I initially berated myself for stopping but considering I then spent the afternoon fast asleep I figured maybe I had made the right choice. Being self-coached can be so difficult - to know when to stop and to know when to stop making excuses is often a difficult call!! It was so bad I was even thinking of withdrawing from the Double and posted my thoughts on various forums. I had such a lot of support and advice, it was great. Adam laughs at me for using the forums but when you are self-coached I think they're a life-saver. I got a wonderful message from one lady which I hope she won't mind me using - I have also copied my response to her to hopefully explain where I am at:

Hi Rach,
Just wanted to say that I totally empathise with what you are going through. I know our situations are somewhat different but I totally get what you are saying about how when you entered your life was very different to how you are now. Whatever you do, don't be hard on yourself. I get the pressure of a double Ironman, god knows how heavily it weighed on me. But it doesn't have to, others had a very relaxed view of it last year and did fab times .I just found that my priorities changed alot and realised that my kids needed me much more (been going through a messy divorce) and that really I wanted to spend my time with them not on a 5 hr bike ride. I thought that I'd be letting loadsa people down by changing my mind but I only found support.
Anyhoo I'm not trying to say stay in or out but rather whatever you decide needs to be the right decision for you.

Forget all the other voices, the ones that say 'should do this, should do that, would, could etc', do what totally feels right in your gut. You will get so much support on here whatever you do.

And my reply:

Hello, Thanks so much for this message - it really really helped me when I received it. Just to feel someone else gets what you are going through is great. So often with stuff like this you can get into the mindset that everyone is focused, strong, training like demons and never feels like giving up, having a temper tantrum or a cry or just lounging about eating cake instead. It was great to hear that from others too - to know that you experienced and accomplished athletes also have bad days was comforting! The pressure does weigh heavily but it is something I have to learn to deal with and that in itself is a very useful experience.

I KNOW it will be worse with the A2A. Adam will have just come home and I'll want to spend all my time with him and plan our wedding and just have fun and I won't be able to because I KNOW I can't blag the A2A and the pressure not just from myself and the enormity of the event but also from sponsors, fundraising targets, media interest etc. So I do need to try and link in to whatever these others have that allows them to be quite relaxed about it whilst maintaining the focus to train. I think that comes with experience too so whilst I wouldn't be stressed now about an IM because I know you can get round without digging yourself into a massive training hole, I have NO idea how you even attempt the double let alone the A2A which has only been done by 6 people! That's a pretty small group to get advice from. So I just need to do what's right for me, forge my own path and try not to worry too much!

I had a good chat with Adam yesterday and he has helped me to realise we both committed to this and though we knew it would get tough juggling stuff, he is 100% behind me and I just need to get on with it, do the things I need to do to satisfy me as an endurance athlete so that it 18months time when I retire I feel I gave everything a good go and can concentrate on beng a good wife and hopefully a good mum soon after that!!

Thank you again for your words - it really has been so helpful to have someone empathise with my position - it really does help. I know everyone would be supportive either way with my decision but I am just going to soldier on and see what I can achieve this summer.

And there's where we are at currently. I am going to do what I can over the next few weeks whilst also spending time with Ad which is the most important thing. I know however that he supports me totally and we have our whole life ahead of us.

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