Okay, so perhaps the title of this blog post is a little misleading. I had intended to do plenty of training whilst taking a much-needed holiday to Greece to spend quality time with my husband, my parents and the islanders who have watched me grow up from a little girl into an almost-30 year old. I had resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn’t be able to cycle out there, but knew I could fit in three runs each week and would be doing a lot of sea swimming in between sailing around the Sporades and pool sessions back on the island.
Oh how good my intentions were.
What happened? Well, not a lot unfortunately. In the days leading up to the holiday I was mentally and physically drained…I literally had nothing left to give and just needed an opportunity to switch off. We arrived in Greece and headed straight to the pool where I was disciplined enough for the first few days to follow part of my training plan and practice my drills and tumble turns. I also encouraged my husband to get involved and was teaching him how to swim crawl properly (although I’m by no means an expert but have learnt a lot since attending a weekly swimfit class). I had no motivation to run during this time though, and despite re-reading one of my all-time favourite books; Queen Chrissie’s ‘A Life Without Limits’, all I could think about was how unhappy I was in my training and how I hated triathlon at that moment in time. Reading Chrissie Wellington’s words about how exciting she found the sport and her rise to the top would usually inspire me, but as those first few days of the holiday passed I was seriously considering emailing my coach and dropping out.
I thought perhaps I would either pull out of all my races for the rest of this year, or still continue with the races but coach myself and take a much less-structured approach to training…just training for enjoyment and the love of triathlon, more than anything else. I was just so confused as to what I actually wanted from this year and from myself.
Luckily after four or five days I pulled myself out of my funk. I realised that on those days where we were at a pool, the people on the sides were watching us when we were in the water because actually we weren’t just doing a bit of lazy swimming – we looked like we knew what we were doing and swimming was ‘our sport’ (perhaps helped by the fact that we were doing tricep dips whilst lowering ourselves into the pool), I also got a bit of a kick out of the fact that I won every swimming race my husband and I had. I started to relax and allowed my love for swimming for the sake of swimming to return. We also did a huge amount of sea swimming and snorkelling which is when I’m in my absolute element. Taking our yacht out to explore the deep waters of the Aegean is nothing short of magnificent and something I will never grow bored of, but fun factor aside, swimming in open water is also a fantastic workout and one which I could just enjoy without putting any further pressure on myself.
And so by week two, my mental strength had returned and I made the conscious decision to continue not running until I arrived back in the UK just so I could make sure I wasn’t pushing myself too hard before I was ready to take everything back on again. This ended up being a rather good plan as by the end of the holiday I was itching to put my running shoes on and hit my usual routes. Even more excitedly, when I eventually did land back in England I had a new pair of running shoes waiting for me which ASICS had sent to review – and we all know that there is nothing more motivating than a new pair of running shoes.
And so, whilst writing this, I am fairly confident in saying that I think I have my training mojo back and am ready to enjoy my events. I’ve come back from Greece feeling refreshed, relaxed and refocused which were all things I was severely lacking in over the past month or so. I think that part of my problem is that, even though my coach is absolutely brilliant, being coached is probably not the right thing for me (although I have decided to stick with it for the rest of this year!). I’m an utter control freak and that includes being in control of the training I want to do – now I know that won’t make me a good triathlete and it is only with coaching I can reach my full potential. But actually, maybe I don’t want to reach my full potential…maybe full potential isn’t actually worth sacrificing your happiness for, and perhaps being completely consumed by training and nutrition isn’t something that is particularly useful for me at this stage in my life. Perhaps there’s more to life like just enjoying a bike ride for the pure enjoyment of feeling the wind in your hair with the sun shining down on you and stopping for an ice cream mid-ride. Perhaps the medals and glory really aren’t worth it after all and it’s simply having fun that counts (oh my gosh, did I actually just type that…who am I and where’s the real Victoria?!).
To add a bit of balance to this post though, and to completely contradict what I have just written in the above paragraph, I did also tell my husband at the end of my holiday that I wanted to be a Team GB triathlete by the time I’m 30. So I guess the old competitive Victoria hasn’t really gone away. And now that my goal is clearly written down in this little part of the internet, I should probably start formulating a plan as to how I’m going to turn this into a reality. Told you I was confused.