Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Grabbing hold before a slip becomes a fall

I've been struggling lately.  Now, I'm grabbing hold.

After Calgary 70.3, I took most of August off.  It was the right decision.  I needed a break from the routine and I needed to really want to get back at it.  It worked.

When I went into September, I was excited and ready to go.  Kindergarten year!  Plenty of easily accessed childfree training time!  A 10K in a few weeks, a couple half marathons.  A weekend trip to Arizona in November.  I was prepared to have a great fall season.

And then it didn't quite go how I planned.  The first few weeks were good.  Things were clicking, and I was getting back into it.  How glorious it was to be able to just run again, and not be afraid anymore about whether my foot was actually better.  I no longer felt the need to constantly think about it.  No more niggles from there.

Then I did my first race: The Melissa's 10K, one that I never did get a race report up for.  (It actually is half written, but I never finished it.)

Here's the short story:

Last year, I did this race in just over an hour, so I decided I could do it in just under an hour this year.  Never mind the fact that I spent months either injured or on reduced activity while recovering from that injury...

I pushed myself from the start, and it's a hard course.  You run up a mountain, literally.  At the half way point, I was suffering, but by then you are going downhill, so I figured I could make up time.  At the 7 km mark, I was still pushing.  At the 8km mark, I puked.  Yes, 2 km too soon.  Then I finished it off at a much reduced pace, crossing the finish line about 5 minutes past the hour mark.

The race itself wasn't what did me in though.  Interestingly, I was okay with my finishing time.  I had one of those "look how far I've come" moments.  I reflected on my first 10k, not even 3 years ago, when I finished in a hard fought 1:06.  To be able to finish a much tougher course, on a bad day, in 1:05, really is an accomplishment.

It was training after that did me in.

Because after that race, I started to push myself to run at the pace that I used to be able to run at.  We talk about competition and comparisons all the time.  The only person you should compare yourself to is yourself, right?  And that's what I was doing.  I wasn't trying to keep up with my 20 year old track star self.  I was simply trying to keep up with myself from a year or two ago.

And I couldn't do it.  I'd start out most of my runs too fast, fade badly and finish, frustrated that, once again, I just couldn't hold the pace.  I was falling apart.

Meanwhile a lot has been going on in my family life.  Not bad.  Just changes.  And, quite frankly, I prefer stability.  (This is all a blog post for another time.)

I couldn't figure out how to right myself, how to get back on track.  Finally, I had a good long chat with Angie, my coach.

Getting back on track:

No more pace on my garmin for now.  I am still using it, but the dominant number I'm watching on it is my heart rate.  Pace is recorded, but it isn't displayed.

Getting my food back in line.  I slipped there too.  It's a symptom for me, when things start coming apart, but it can become a disease in and of itself.  Track what I eat.  Base my meals on protein and vegetables.  I still eat plenty of carbs, but the key for me is not to base my food choices around them.  Cut out the sugar.

I've had some good runs.  And a good half marathon.  It was a really challenging course too.  It would have been so easy to blow up on the many hills, but I held an even effort for the race, rather then an even pace.  It let me finish strong.

I haven't felt like I'm quite there yet.  And, tonight, while participating in a spin class with my team, I realized the missing element.  Reaching out to my support structure.  Blogging about my training.  Finding opportunities to train with friends.  I am, and always will be, primarily a solo triathlete.  The time I train alone helps me find my centre, but I also need to run with a friend sometimes or suffer next to each other on trainers.

Deb Tris is back.


  1. It was really great spinning next to you tonight Deb. I really appreciated the chat. I know that you and I tend to view things quite similarly so I really understand where you are coming from. It has been my mental struggle this year too! Why does it take so long to claw our way back to where we quickly slid from?

    Hang in there. You have an awesome coach and a great plan. Let me know when you need somone to train with!

    And look at that...almost 11:00. Sheesh, I'd better get to bed! You wrote a blog post, I ordered Christmas cards. :)

  2. Oh I hear this one! I've really struggled with working out regularly, trying to gradually build. And I suck at it. Niggling injuries. You know. Would love to do another run! Weaselhead again, before they put a freeway through it, or down in Fish Creek.

  3. Injuries can really shake your confidence and send your emotions on a downward spiral but if you just keep getting out there and remember why you run in the first place, you keep getting stronger and stronger day by day. Ignoring the pace and thinking of each run as a commute helps: It will take as long as it takes and some days traffic is just slower but you'll eventually get there. Weaselhead... love it!

  4. Welcome back! I'm feeling you for sure. My running times this year seem to be getting slower instead of faster and swimming and biking....well they are non-existent. My weight.,...up....my eating...not good. There is a new Michael about to emerge soon.

    Stay focused and enjoy the journey!

  5. very good to read this...since I am pretty much there too! :-)