Stop! No, GO! Wait, slow down!

Sometimes, everything you need is right in front of you, you are just too blind to notice.  At least that is how I felt this week.   As I mentioned in my previous post, I pretty much cleared my training plan.  I was shooting for less time training and more time “braining.” (Cute, right?)  Anyway, this week was the first week of my nearly blank training plan.  Monday, I focused on studying.  I felt a little naughty in not having done anything physical, but hey I needed to study.  Unfortunately, nothing was sticking.  I went over the under-active and overactive muscles a thousand times but could maybe list a handful.  I scheduled a run for Tuesday morning, which went fine.  Wednesday was “rest” day which is currently code for more studying.   On Thursday, I had the Mercedes-Benz Corporate run, which went good.  Friday was more studying and  by then, I was really feeling horrible.  I felt like a total cow, and the scary thing is, I kinda liked being a little lazy.  I hadn’t done much all week considering what I used to do.  It might have been worth it if I could say that the studying paid off.  I could not say that.  I had a long run planned for Saturday, but I hear back from the swim coach that taught the seminar I attended, and he was available Saturday morning so the run was moved to Sunday.

The swim lesson was awesome and embarrassing at the same time.  The good thing, is that the coach really gets me.  The bad thing, is that the coach really gets me.  He totally calls me out on my specific brand of crazy.  He completely sees that I over analyze everything and therefore mess it all up.  He tells me to focus on arms, but if I feel my feet sinking even a little I start working on those and loose the arms.  It went on like that for a bit and then he basically told me to stop trying to fix it all at once.  He said “you are trying to put out 5 small fires at once but when you move from one to the next, the other only grows.  If you focus on one at a time, you would keep the place from burning down.”  He had a point.  He also told me I research too much.  I told him that when I was good enough, I would join the tri swim classes he does.  He laughed and said “the classes are to help you GET good.  Why would you try to get good on your own first?  Has that worked for you before?”  The man is my swim Yoda.

Sunday morning I woke up for my 14 mile run feeling like crap.  I am not sure if it was just not sleeping well, or that I was/am fighting a cold, or that my body was just happy not doing much during the week and wanted to know why I was trying to disrupt that sweet lazy streak with a run.  Regardless of why, I was not feeling it at all.  I did my usual identification of just one thing to move forward and got ready.  I packed my water bottles and fuel into my belt and headed out.  I told myself that I would do a warm up mile, and then stretch a bunch before continuing on.  I read that for long runs that was the best way to avoid cramping up.  As soon as I started running I began to feel worse.  I can only explain it as being similar to that feeling you get when you begin to show signs of the flu, where a lot of your body aches but you are not sure why.  I told myself maybe I would just do 8 miles.  Then I got to the greenway and tried to stretch out.  I continued down the greenway, my back ached, my legs felt like they were going to pop and my heartbeat was thumping in my head.  Then I just stopped.  I got really upset and decided to just go back home.  I thought about how inactive I was all week, how tight some muscles were feeling and how miserable I had been all week.  It’s as I was heading home that I realized that what I needed was right with me the entire time, I just didn’t bother to look for it.  My own body was screaming muscle imbalance.  It’s not due to my inactivity this week, it’s due to all the sitting I have been doing including this week.  I was the prime example of how some muscles become overactive to compensate for the under-active.  It was my epiphany of how I could make the knowledge stick.  I just needed to relate to it, and now I could.  I had new hope for absorbing what I was learning.

I also realized that apparently I go too far one direction to compensate for another.  I had one rough week of trying to balance the training and study so I wiped out my calendar.  I focused on the studying so much that I was miserable and no better for it.  I go from green to red, without slowing down at yellow to see where I need to be.  I realized why I went to such an extreme.  My problem is that I am still not comfortable with seeing red on that calendar.  It’s my Achilles tendon.  I put myself in a spot to rather have nothing on my calendar, than see at least some of those pretty green squares even if they might occasionally be next to an ugly red one.  So, to ease my mind and help my body, I am trying a combo this week.  Today, I started with reading my chapters while stretching out those muscles that had become way too tight.  My mind did fine and my body thanked me (once it was done crying out in pain from all the stretching).   I also created a study plan, so I know exactly what material needs to be covered each day.  Tonight, I will load up my training calendar.  Each day I will have to decide if I can do both, or need to push some training back for the sake of the class…. besides, I can always delete the red ones, right?

Life, Triathlon

Testing, Testing, 1,2,3….

We are tested nearly every waking moment of our lives.  As free thinking beings, it just comes with the territory.  From the moment the alarm goes off to the moment you put your head down on the pillow you are being tested.  When that alarm sounds, are you one of those people that pops up out of bed ready to start the day?  Then maybe you aren’t tested the way I am.  I wish I was one of those people.  The moment that alarm goes off, all the voices in my head start.    Push the button, ok done.  Now, get up!  No, just take a minute to gather your senses.  Yeah, just a minute.  I can get out of bed in 5 minutes.  I need to let my body wake up.  Why do I need to be up this early?  I can miss a day.  I probably need rest.  You know, I didn’t really sleep all that great anyway.  Looking over at the clock again…. Ugh ok it’s 10 after.  I really need to get up.  Do we have to? Yes.  Once in a while, I can be one of those people that pops out of bed, but most mornings that is my inner dialog.

Lately, its been a little worse.  I think the reason for that is I am still getting used to a change in my routine.  I’ve been getting up at 4:00am and trying to study before I train.  That has been a test too.  I love reading, and learning but there is something about the fact that I have to retain what I read, that is messing with me.  I started this personal trainer certification class because I want the knowledge.  I don’t want or expect to go work in a gym somewhere, but I do want to use that knowledge not only to help myself, but to help other people as well.  Yes, there will be actual tests, but lately it’s been like even reading the chapters is a test.  I just haven’t been able to keep focused.  I am not absorbing the knowledge like I expected too.  I think it’s the pressure of having to, rather than wanting to right now.  I pieced together what I thought was a lite training plan to allow for time to study, but I am finding that I didn’t do a great job of it.  Since I still have something on the training plan 6 days a week, I find myself either racing though the materials so I can get to my workout, or I find myself with my nose in the book, but my eyes looking over at my bike longing to take it out for a spin.  I am being tested!  Sometimes I fail, sometimes I pass… I think.  I am not sure!  More on that later.

My nutrition has been a big test for me lately too.  If you think about it, it is for everyone, every day.  Every time we go to put something in our mouths we are tested.  What food to cook, or pick off the menu.  How much of it to eat.  For the most part, when we eat at home I am pretty good.  I may not eat as many veggies as I should, but at least I am not eating a ton of processed junk.  Ok, maybe bacon, but that’s probably the worst of it, and it’s bacon so that stays.   When we go out, I struggle more.  There are some restaurants where the food choices are easy and I generally don’t have an issue, but then there are others.  Do you know how hard it is to go to Flanigan’s and not get ribs and fries?  If you don’t know how hard it is, then you don’t eat ribs and fries – good for you.  I can’t tell you how dry the grilled zingers at Ale House are compared to the fried ones.  It’s hard not to get the fried zingers.  Don’t even get me started on Italian food.  I just need to stay away from Italian restaurants  altogether.  How do you choose a chicken salad over a chicken parmesan stromboli?  You don’t… ok, maybe I don’t.   Not always, but sometimes.  It’s a test every time.  Sometimes, I fail, other times I pass.

Then there are extra curricular activities.  I want to go to the movies sometimes.  I want to go catch a hockey game or hang out with family and friends, but when I am behind a chapter or two is that the right thing to do?  Do I turn that down and study instead?  Do I go in the other room to read while my boys snuggle up on the couch and watch an episode of Stranger Things?  Or do I sit with them and enjoy that time, and the show?   There’s a certain balance that has to be achieved.  I don’t think there is a generic right answer.  Sometimes, I choose to resist the temptation and go study.  Sometimes, I don’t.  There are certain moments where maybe I can do both.  I know that I don’t want to miss living for the purpose of studying, but each of these little tests has been weighing on me lately.

Back to training.  I think that has been the worst of all the tests lately.  Last week I really wanted to swim but was really behind in my course work.  I decided the grown up thing to do would be to study.  Turned out, that wasn’t necessarily the best thing to do.  I skipped the pool and hit the books, but I had a really hard time focusing.  My brain just wasn’t in it.  I ended up closing the book in frustration after I realized I read the same paragraph twice and couldn’t tell you what it was about.  I missed out on what might have been a good swim and didn’t reap any benefit of studying either!  Other days, I stopped studying when I was doing really well, because it was time to train.  You see, I have some obsessive compulsive behaviors.  I know they are there, and some are ok, I think.  Others, not so much.  I use a training site called Training Peaks.  I love it, I can download training plans and move things around on a calendar view not much different from any calendar application.  The cool thing about it, is that when I workout my results and everything are automatically loaded.  It knows that if I had a run scheduled that day and I did the run, it’s complete and can turn green.  It’s when it turns red, that I have a problem.  You see, it turns red when you didn’t complete the activity that day.  Here’s where the obsessive part comes in.  I don’t like to see red on my calendar….. Anywhere.  So, what happens if I miss a day?  Generally, I move it to another day so I can make it turn green then.  Sad, I know but I do love my green.

They say the first step is admitting you have a problem.  I’ve come to realize I have a few right now.  These little tests that I have been noticing are my brain trying to tell me that something is wrong here.  First of all, I looked at my training calendar and the hours spent there.  I looked at the hours needed to be successful at this course, and I looked at the hours needed to be a good wife, mom, etc.  I also looked at the hours needed to get some sleep, and be good to myself.  There just aren’t enough in the day!  So, something has to give.

I also realize that my dear old friend fear, is at my doorstep again.  What am I afraid of?  Well, a number of things.  I’m afraid that if I slow my training too much and dedicate more time to studying, I will lose the fitness I have worked so hard to gain.  I am afraid that if I do lessen my training to focus on studying, and for some reason I still don’t pass the exam, then what excuse will I have?  I’m afraid that brain doesn’t work as well for this whole school thing anymore.  I’m afraid that maybe the knowledge isn’t sticking because maybe I just don’t have it in me to know this stuff.  I’m afraid that if, for whatever reason, I don’t pass this exam that I won’t do a good job of dusting myself off and carrying on.  I’m afraid to let everyone down, especially my boys.  How can I be a good example if I fail?

I had to snap out of it.  This morning, after finishing reviewing the lecture materials on nutrition (note to self to apply those to my food choices today), I decided to delete my training plan from my calendar.  Aaahhh!  I know, crazy, right?!  I reinserted some things that I know I need to maintain some of my fitness and to just make me happy.  I’ll run three times a week, swim twice a week, and if I get a casual ride in on the weekends it would be awesome but isn’t scheduled.  Other than that, it’s wide open.  If I find one morning I absolutely cannot focus on my studies, well then I might grab the weights or jump on the bike.  If one morning, I am on a roll with my studies, I will move the run to another day (I still have the red problem, I know.  Baby steps).  I also took some time to put the good things and habits I have learned to use.  I have to be able to accept that failure is a possibility, and if it happens, I need to figure out how best to learn from it.  No one wants to fail, especially when they put it all out there for everyone to know about.  I certainly don’t.  I am working to embrace this new kind of fear of failure that comes not from being able to achieve something physical, but something entirely different.  I never thought that there could be anything harder than an ocean swim in a monsoon, but here I am.  I was able to get from buoy to buoy in that ocean, so I should be able to get from chapter to chapter in this one.