This month has been tough. Really tough. March is always my busiest and most stressful time at work so thinking I could cram 5 sporting events over the course of 4 weekends plus training six days each week into a month that would ordinarily push me to my limits has, well, pushed me to my limits.
There have been moments where I have caught myself just staring at a blank wall, completely motionless because my mind and my body was just so ‘over it’. And there have been times where I really began to question whether I was cut out for sport at all. Then there are those ‘I don’t know how you do it’ comments from people you bump into on a daily basis and instead of breaking down with a bit of a tired sob, you just smile and say ‘because I love it’. And I do, honestly. I love swimming, I love cycling, I really love running, I’m just a bit worn out.
This month of training has brought my aches and pains back to life – I think when you train so much people just assume that your body copes with that level of intensity with ease and that you always feel great. Well, that’s definitely not the case. I’m fairly certain I have stress fractures or some kind of problem with my feet, I’ve had x-rays on them a few times now and each time the x-ray rather frustratingly comes back clear. The thing is my feet don’t hurt during exercise and I’m fairly certain it isn’t affecting my performance too much, but they do hurt afterwards when I’m trying to walk in everyday life. I also felt a bit of a twinge in my back in week 3 which immediately motivated me to restart the exercises my physio gave me last year. It’s amazing how in-tune you feel with your body when you push it to the limits each day.
The training I’ve been doing as part of thetrilife Masters Program has definitely had a positive impact on my racing this month though, and in particular on my result in this year’s Swimathon. I can safely say that without the swim sessions I would not have been able to perform anywhere near as well as I did. For the first time in my life I’m growing some bicep muscles too – or rather, I am on my right arm (the left side of my body always fails to develop muscle tone – no idea why, but I’m essentially lopsided). At the moment I wish I was running more as part of my training as that’s what I miss the most, but I have to say I am pleased with my performance in this month’s races. Admittedly I dropped out of race number 4, but that was due to take place the day after Swimathon which was an over-ambitious target in the first place, and soon became impossible when I forgot to carb-load and taper. So instead of viewing my DNS as a failure, I’m actually taking it as a small win as it’s not often that my over-achieving self makes good decisions like that.
I’m secretly hoping that as the weather begins to warm up things will start to feel easier. I am a firm believer in most things being mind over matter and I feel like at the moment I’m just clinging on, surviving, waiting for sunnier and warmer days to arrive. Once they’re here I’ll feel less weather-beaten on my beach runs, will enjoy cycling to work and will even be able to start swim training in the sea once summer well and truly sets in. There is so much to look forward to with the changing of the seasons.
So, lessons learnt for this month? Don’t ever contemplate booking 5 races into a month again – 1 would be preferable, 2 would be okay (at the moment I have one race booked each month for the rest of this year so I must resist temptation to book onto more). The world is not going to fall apart if you miss a training session or race, nor does that make you lazy. And start believing in your ability to be a good athlete – you’ve got all the tools, it’s just a case of using them properly.