Friday, 25 April 2008

Keeping The Perspective...

So I have not been happy of late. Well, mostly not happy on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Why? Because my bikes on those nights have been sucking. Big time. That’s WHEN I can actually get them done. It’s been brutal and I’ve been really upset about it.

Here’s the stupid thing. I kept trying and not succeeding and getting more and more frustrated, but I didn’t tell IG. Well, I think I did mention it one time, but I didn’t really explain how long it had been going on or how I’d been feeling. So how exactly could he help me right?

By the time I did say something, or rather write something as I was so upset I knew I’d burst into tears when I talked to him, so instead I sent an email, my perspective about the whole situation was totally out of whack. I pretty much had thrown my goal time for IMCDA out the window, figured I was the worst triathlete EVER and had no mental gumption whatsoever. The email was so negative that IG was so disappointed, he couldn’t write back that evening.

Typically I have a really positive nature about training, life, and keep a good perspective on things. So why did it all go to hell? I haven’t actually figured that out yet, but I have a few ideas.

First off, training for an early season event can be somewhat challenging when the winter seems to be dragging along and you can’t get outside to ride. I think the lack of sun and vitamin D have also been playing a role in this. Perhaps I should get one of those S.A.D. lights, haha.

Second, I swim before work on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Then I work a long day, have a long commute and am exhausted when I get home. Had I kept things in perspective I would have realized that I’m just too damned tired those evenings to be able to dig deep and push a hard workout. I wouldn’t have been thinking ‘why am I so weak?!’ I would have contacted my coach and said, ‘Look, I need to change things up because this isn’t working for me’. It’s silly really. I was so caught up in looking towards the race I let things get way out of hand in my mind.

So that leads me to another thing that contributed to me losing perspective. I have been spending way too much time in the future. No, I haven’t been time traveling; rather my thoughts have been in the future a lot. Now this is a bad habit that I’ve needed to break for a long time. I keep thinking about outcomes. The outcome of races, especially Ironman and outcomes of life choices.

In truth, I don’t think this is necessarily a trait uncommon to triathletes, or athletes in general. We constantly plan and think about what we have to do this week, the next week and so on. If it’s not planning our training, its planning our food, planning our races, planning our traveling, hell, planning what we are going to wear! Will it be the black tights with red top and matching toque, or the black spandex and purple top with clashing green toque?!

Thing is, I don’t think it’s necessarily a good thing to do this all the time. I think it can contribute to losing perspective on things. At least it did for me. What I need to be focusing on is the ‘right now’. I’ve had some help with this. I’m seeing a life coach who’s helping me, as well as reading Eckhart Tolle’s ‘A New Earth’, which I love.

This is one of the reasons I’ve been riding in the dungeon without music or the t.v. on. I want to train myself to stay in the present moment, not only when I’m training, but when it comes to race time.

I don’t want to be thinking of the bike when I’m in the water, or the run when I’m on the bike. I want to think of each stroke and kick when I’m in the swim. I want to be smooth and relaxed on the bike; have power and cadence. This time I actually want to run on the run! I want to be completely in touch with my body and mind.

This hasn’t been easy for me or my brain gerbil, but we are learning. The times I have maintained focus and stayed in the present, whether its during a swim, on the trainer or on a run, have been bliss. It’s truly a zen like feeling when it happens, even if it doesn’t happen too often yet. Of course, I’ve also been practicing this in my daily life and found that I’m more at peace.

So I will continue to practice staying in the moment and therefore keeping things in perspective. No more thinking about outcomes! Whatever happens on those days will, so there is no sense wasting brain energy on it now.

All together now…’OHMMMMMM’.

Peace out my friends.


  1. Hey -- at least you have the insight and self-awareness to finally clue in to the underlying issues. I am so not there yet. When I am fatigued and doing too much, I become the BIGGEST grouch ever. Think PMS super grouch.

    We are so dedicated to triathlon and giving it our all, that the smallest setback (pr perceived setback) can just knock us right down. After my first IM, I felt invincible. I raised my standards ever higher for myself and wanted to push myself even more for my second IM.

    From the very beginning of that training year, things went wrong. I never took the time to recover fully from IMC, and instead kept working out. I even ran a 22km three weeks after. I was so worn out I kept catching bad colds, but refused to take time off training. A normal one-week cold would turn into an epic 3 week or 1 month cold. I remember there were a couple of months where I couldn't even do my workouts, but I still slogged away -- doing whatever I could.

    My races that year were the slowest, culminating in a horrific experience at IMC. I had set the precedent that year of making bad choices, and I continued the trend during my second IM race. The marathon portion was a nightmare. I got tunnel vision, my peripheral vision grayed out (and fuzzied along the edges) and I was constantly on the verge of blacking out.

    I remember trying to reach out for a cup of gatorade and I couldn't co-ordinate my hand/brain function. I kept missing the cup by inches. It took me three tries and the volunteer had to forcibly put it in my hand. I got progressively worse -- I went into a porta-potty and when I sat down, I blacked out. I could hear things around me but I was blind and my hands and arms were all tingly. From then on, I didn't stop to pee, I just peed myself because I knew I would black out.

    After the sun set, the only thing that kept me going was running exactly on the painted white shoulder line. My whole world became that line. I remember panicking when I neared the finish because there was no more shoulder line to follow -- the only white lines on the ground were for angled parking.

    About 15 min. after I finished, I started dry heaving, and once in the med tent I had a mini-seizure. I spent the next 4 hours in the hospital with an IV in each arm all because of my own stupidity.

    This year, I started running too much too soon and had to take 3 weeks off from running because my bloody ankle swelled up. When will I learn?? :)

    I have realized that less is often more. That training smart means not killing myself every time I walk out the door. That the lifestyle choices I make are just as important as the physical training I do. The trick is to remember these lessons!!!!! :) :)

    Try not to be too hard on yourself Susi. Frig, when I am really fatigued, I am the most depressed, negative, and foul-mouthed person around. It's OK!!!! You are not supposed to be Molly McHappy everyday of your life.

    :):):) :) :) :)

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your story with me! Isn't it amazing how we can place so much pressure on ourselves and lose the perspective of why we do this?

    I'm glad we both have recognized within ourselves the negative traps we can fall into. Here's to being happy, healthy triathletes!! We rock. :)

  3. Dear Susi,

    Firstly, a big hug. Now, lets sit in a comfey chair with a nice cup of tea. Remember how we talked about my floating elphant theory?

    I don't have the experience that you and others here have with Ironman stuff. I'll let them talk about that. In fact, I read Julie's post over twice, carefully, because I so don't want to be there.

    What I do have is experience in going through some of what you're feeling in your life right now. There was some tough times going through my 30's. I wondered what I wanted to do when I grew up. Should I be getting more education? Was there any point to changing careers since I was so old I'd hardly be in it long enough to pay off, whatever that means. Just as you've had some struggles being single, I had some struggles being married. One of my major social activities went sour, big time.

    We've all had experiences where something isn't working, so we try harder to make it work. Sometimes that does the trick. But if that doesn't work the solution is not to get a bigger hammer. That was a tough learning.

    What do you do? Well, that depends, but it comes down to, do something different. Give your body and brain a rest. My epiphany on that subject came when I was doodling with a video game to the frustrated hoots of laughter from the 12 year old the game belonged to. Then suddenly I heard my mouth saying "I'm an adult, I don't have to be good at video games."

    That gave me the breakthrough in other areas. I still have goals, things that I'd like to accomplish. But what's important is that I accept my performance as I chase those goals. As long as I can look in a mirror and know that I put in a diligent, honest effort, I'm happy. Some days will be good, and some less so.

    My life isn't the achievement of the various goals I have. It's about the road to get there. I'm having a bit of a tough time in the pool lately. It's a bit puzzling as to why, but I'm not going to let that consume me. It's just one of those things. It's another elephant floating by.

    You have many elephants floating by at the moment. And you being the person you are, you feel the need to become personally acquainted with each elephant. No wonder you're exhausted!

    Let them go. You realize intellectually that you should, and have begun to struggle with actually doing do. I think you're on the right path there. Sometimes it's harder to let go than to hang on.

    Once you get there, I am confident that you'll look back and wonder what all the fuss was about. My 30's were tough sledding. My 40's have been the best time of my life, hands down. And as I'm looking at the dawn of the 50's, I have every reason to believe they'll be just as good.

    Remember, a lot of the shit in your life is just another elephant. It floated into your life, and if you let it, it will float back out again. But if you become attached to it, and cherish it, it will never go away.

  4. Have tea, am seated comfortably.

    I will always love your floating elephant theory. I should really put that up somewhere 'REMEMBER THE FLOATING ELEPHANTS!'

    You are so correct in saying that I like to be acquainted with all the floating elephants, but am I am learning to let them go.

    This week was a much better training week for having let go a lot of the 'elephants' I was hanging on to. And with more and more practice I know I will get better at it. As with everything in life.

    I'm actually happy when these challenges in life happen, because although at the time they are a struggle and you wonder if you will ever see the light of day; once you've gotten through it are better for it.

    I firmly believe there is a reason for everything in life - and if you are open to it, you will learn from it.

    Big hugs right back at ya my friend! Thank you.