Monday, August 4, 2014

KONA 2014 - Who's Silly Idea Was it to Move House?

...oh, that's right, me.

And St Pete.

But I was definitely a willing participant in that decision and over the past couple of weeks that decision would come back to bite me big time as moving preparations and big training blocks succeeded in bringing me to my psychological limits.  As usual, though, it provided me with a valuable learning opportunity.

Learning about what I need, personally, in order to function.

Coach Dave has set a good system for my Kona build up.  It's been a series of two week blocks - each block themed around wind trainer, swim and run in turn.  During those blocks I'd therefore have double sets of each.  So during the wind trainer weeks I'd have, say, Tuesday and Thursday with wind trainer sets to do in the morning and again in the evening.  Same for the swim block and same for the run block.

They've been going pretty well apart from a couple of hiccups.  Towards the end of the swim block I started to get a cold and so spent around a week managing that and not overdoing things, and managed to come out the other end pretty well.  I had a few days with no energy and so spent a bit of time looking at the training program and sacrificing the lesser sessions in order to rest and be able to continue with the more important sessions.  A pretty minor dose of the virus in the scheme of things which compromised the beginning of the run block but working with the mantra of "progress, not perfection" I knew long term that it would be OK.

But then I hit some additional road bumps.  During my second run week, I was supposedly close to full energy again but started finding myself not coping with little things.  St Pete started copping it as I went from zen-like athlete to emotional 13 year old (or that's what it felt like!).  I'd be on the brink of tears over the tiniest little thing and I later described it as like being on a knife edge.

It forced me to take a step back and try to figure out what was going wrong.  I normally handle pressure and stress fine and sail through tough situations like a ship on the ocean.  What was different this time?

As I looked back on the last week I honed in on the problem.

I wasn't getting enough down time and this wasn't just about physical downtime - it was the mental downtime as well that was suffering.

With the impending house move we had a whole stack of things to discuss, decide and act on.  St Pete was managing a lot of it but I was far from disengaged from the process and so the mental stimulation and physical stimulation combined was pushing me to extremes.  I was also in a run block and, with it, run sets morning and afternoon, which I find challenging at the best of times.

So a combination of the physical stress from the hard training week, plus the mental stress from organising the house move, combined to turn me into what felt like a large piece of crystal - ready to fracture as soon as things got a bit hot.

To fix this it turned out that the best remedy to put me back on the right track was a simple one....we went shopping!

We had set aside a Saturday where I had a long run and swim to do but also needed to go furniture shopping.  So we decided to do the run early and then go do the shopping and plan to swim in the afternoon/early evening. As it turned out we ended up out shopping all day, did all we wanted to do but ran out of time to swim.

But that was OK.  After getting the run out of the way we forgot about training for the day and just focused on one thing - the house move.  The next morning I woke up feeling back to my normal calm state and, as we headed down to Cronulla for my bike set, I remember saying to St Pete that I was feeling much more zen.  And he had noticed it too.

Looking back on those couple of weeks it made me realise that recovery time for me isn't just resting on the couch.  While that is really important it's become less crucial as my fitness has improved (i.e. I'm no longer needing afternoon naps!).  But what remains crucial for me is that quiet time where I get to mentally recharge and gain energy again.

So girls, if you're finding the going has got tough and you are at your limits, here's your answer.

Go shopping!