This week has been a shemozzle for me to say the least. I have been missing my training sessions, lacking motivation and simply, losing the plot! It’s times like these you don’t know if it’s the chicken before the egg. Am I over trained and tired, and missing sessions is the right thing to do, or am I just frazzled and lacking motivation and shouldn’t miss any sessions as I am making excuses? I think as a triathlete one of the hardest things is knowing when you genuinely need to back off and let yourself rest.
I say the week has been a shemozzle, but in fact it started last week, when I was training with my boyfriend John. Our coach set us the same week’s training in the lead up to the Gatorade Race we were both doing. Monday morning kicked off with 5 x 1km efforts. Every kilometer was a race – but we’re not competitive with each other! By the end, to say I was spent is an understatement! But alas, I went to work then straight to swim training afterwards. I can’t remember how far we swam, but am sure it wouldn’t have been anything less of 4km with the torture Butch puts us through each session. It’s a love hate relationship with that man! Tired, I groggily got up for our ride/run combo the following morning on Tuesday. Again, you would have thought John and I were racing for gold at the Olympics. We pushed each other to our limits each run off the bike, each one getting quicker. By Wednesday morning it was another run session, this time hills which I did on my own. I battled my way through the session, not pushing as hard had John been there. I was secretly relieved. Wednesday night was PT and my legs were shaking. By Thursday morning we were back out on the bike and I was now a broken woman. We were meant to do a few hill repeats to get the legs ticking ready for Sunday. But I had nothing; the repeats were more of a survival climb to the top of what felt like Everest. Thursday night I was meant to go to swim squad, but I skipped it. Friday – skipped. Saturday – skipped! I had destroyed myself so badly at the start of the week I couldn’t finish it off! I had no choice but to skip those couple of days before the race Sunday morning, I was absolutely exhausted.
Having those couple of days off made me forgot how tired I was after the Gatorade Sprint race on Sunday. With no more races for about 6 weeks, John suggested I should take the week off and recover. Recover from what, I asked? The race is just over an hour, it’s really just a training session, I don’t need to recover from that! So I got my program for the week which was another fully loaded week. I set off Monday morning and destroyed myself doing hill runs. I went back to Butch Monday night and knocked out 4.6km’s in the pool. I was going to do my ride Tuesday night so I could sleep in Tuesday morning. But that afternoon I was talking myself out of the session. It will get too late. I am training on my own. I need to do the weekly grocery shop. Work’s been busy. Ultimately – I am too tired. I had a war in my head. Was I actually too tired, or am I making myself excuses?
It’s not the first time I’ve had this war, it won’t be the last, and I am certain I am not the only one who’s had it. I read some articles which discuss times like this. They all refer to writing down your motivation for training, refer to your reasons when you’re making excuses, and kept harping on about focusing on the “reasons” you train. It was useless information. I know why I train, I must be motivated otherwise I wouldn’t be here in the first place. So was it a lack of motivation, or was I genuinely too tired?
So I skipped the Tuesday night bike session. And that night after dinner I had a glass of milk, and when I put the milk away in the cupboard (yes, cupboard not fridge), I thought “Yep! You are tired! Lucky I skipped that session!”. So what did I do next? Go to bed, set my alarm for 5.30am and go for a 17km run the next morning. Surprisingly, I felt ok and did pretty well in my session (there were intervals with times to hit). So I doubted myself again – I mustn’t be that tired. So off to work I went. When in the middle of my client meeting, at about 10am (after being at work for over 2hrs) I realized my shirt was on inside out. Kill. Me. Now. I couldn’t even escape to the bathroom until 1pm to fix it!!! Thank god for high vis vests to cover myself up. Mortified after that experience I was pleased to get home that night. Only to find I had locked myself out. The great run I did that morning meant taking my house key off my set, and forgetting to put it back on. I have a spare at my sisters and my parents, but both were out and weren’t coming home until late. I frustratingly missed my PT session, crashed my friend’s house who lives across the road, and finally got back into my house at nearly 11pm (WELL past my bedtime!). Tired and grumpy I slept well. The next morning I set about hunting to find my key, which I was convinced I had left on the dining table. I looked all over the house and couldn’t find it. I finally checked in my wallet and found it. The same wallet I had had with me the whole time… Not. Happy. Jan.
Other than trying to see the funny side of what I did last night (it’s a laugh or cry moment!), what am I getting out of writing this? Listen to your body!!! It is really hard to know the difference between being a bit tired from a day’s work, and being truly exhausted from the accumulation of weeks of training and work. Think about the following when deciding which one it is:
- Are you doing silly things?! People when they’re tired are forgetful, have slow reactions, and do silly things. Are you doing any of these things? You wouldn’t do it after one big day, but perhaps after a big week(s).
- Look back on your training. It is easy to forget just how much you have done. After Sunday’s race I didn’t think I had done much – I forgot about the huge load I had done at the beginning of the week. Heck, I even forgot I ran 17km’s the morning I locked myself out! Analyse your training to see if you may have in fact over trained. This is why a training diary is so great.
- If you’re not feeling up for training, ask yourself; if you were training with friends would you be up for it? Training with friends is much more motivating and fun. If you still couldn’t fathom donning the lycra even if it meant socializing with your buddies, then you probably are too tired and should skip the session.
- Look at your program long term and work out just how critical the training is for that day or week. Most of the times, it is more beneficial to have the day or few days off and let your body recover, than to push yourself too far and into a heaped pile of exhaustation.
- Look ahead on your program. If today you have a key session but the next couple of days are easy, then you probably want to do it. Alternatively if you have a big couple of days coming up, it may be better to get the rest in so you can give those sessions justice.