All About Balancing
Analyzing the “Lazy” Last Month
The previous post about 3 weeks ago, just after finishing (actually DNFing) the Rev3 Full Triathlon. It was my first DNF. And honestly, I took pride in finishing every race I ever started. But, as the old saying goes, “pride comes before the fall.” However, during that humbling moment and taking some serious time off from any structured training over the last 3 or 4 weeks, I couldn’t be happier with my decision to cancel the remainder of the season and get ready for the next. It was during this time that I (re)learned the importance of balance in life.
Anyone that has every trained for an IM race knows that it takes 100% commitment, and often other parts of life are sacrificed in the process. If something doesn’t give, the load of training, work, friends/family, etc. takes its toll leaving the athlete both physically and mentally exhausted. During the three week build before tapering down for 2 weeks for the Ironman Louisville, I tried to keep juggling everything in my life and ended up not doing a very good job of it. Instead of letting one thing go, in my attempt to not give anything up, everything ended up going south. When this starts happening I notice a few things change about me.
The first thing is that my attitude changes. I struggle to keep a good attitude about everything (work, church, training, social life). I just don’t have energy to do any of it, but do it anyways half-heartedly. We all know the power of a good/bad attitude.
Secondly, my energy level hits rock bottom. Part of it is due to the hot weather that makes me wake up early to get my training in even on my days off. I don’t get a chance to sleep in to recover adequately or maintain my energy levels.
The third thing that goes is my health. After burning the candle at both ends, the stressors of life win out and beat my normally functional immune system.
This is exactly what happened with Ironman Louisville. I did my best to keep a good attitude about the long runs and rides I had to do to prepare adequately. I compromised on those long runs and didn’t hit the intensities I should have. After a couple weeks into the build process, my body started feeling really fatigued. And once I lowered my volume for tapering, I got sick 3 days before the race.
I do this to myself almost every year. I put too much on my plate and push myself to exhaustion. I seem to learn the same lesson each year around this time after analyzing me season. Life is about balance, and without balance, life becomes a struggle.
So for next year, I’m not sure that I’m even going to do one Ironman race. If I do, it will be Ironman Louisville, and I’ll make the decision about a month or so out from the race. I want to focus on shorter races (70.3) so I can work on speed and endurance without compromising so much. And the work for this starts tomorrow at Mary T before heading into work. I’m excited for the preparation for 2013 to start. This lets me know that I’m mentally ready to start some structure again. I also know that I’m physically ready to start putting in the hours of training again after I’ve seen my bike wattages climb back to what they were when just doing a casual ride before starting my high volume for IM Louisville. In fact, my max wattage is about 120 watts higher now than it was a year ago even after doing minimal training for the last month (I hit it on an attack during a group ride today at 785 watts).
Looking back on where I was a year ago, I’m very happy with my coach, Justin Trolle. My IM average watts increased by about 35 watts this year… and if I can do it again for next year, I may be slightly more competitive. (I don’t have any data from any 70.3 in 2011, but I know there were significant gains there too).
So what am I going to do to keep things in balance this coming year to not push my body over the edge? Good question… after we get past thanksgiving, I’m going to cut my work hours back to 5 days per pay period instead of 6. I going to take the risk of making slightly less money at the hospital and hopefully make up some income from starting my own coaching business, Progressive Endurance (www.progressiveendurance.com). This will allow me to recover better, hit my intensities as they need to be, and will ultimately keep my attitude positive, my energy levels high, and my health in check.
First race should be on February 2nd inPanama. I’m already looking forward to it.
Cya at the starting line…