Sunday, 9 August 2009

Body Over Mind...

"It isn't enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn't enough to believe in it. One must work at it." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Body over mind eh? Shouldn't it be mind over body?? Apparantly my 'dare to be different' attitude has taken over all aspects of my life.

The past week my body took over and my mind wasn't going to win any ground no matter the argument. A sample if you will...

Body: No. No you aren't going to complete your stair workout run today.

Mind: Why not?! I finished my swim this morning. I felt good. Strong even compared to what I was like earlier. Come on I WANT to run stairs!!

Body: No, I'm not going to change my mind. You weren't feeling shite hot yesterday or on the weekend and you need to ease into things.

Mind: This is so not fair. I am just over three weeks away from Ironman Canada for crack and ice!

Body: Tough. I warned you with the neck, and you took heed but then tried to jump right back in. Now I'm going to stop you this way.

It all started with my pretty much collapsing from exhaustion on Monday. I'd somehow forgot that it isn't just training that can leave you fatigued, but also our personal lives and stress related to people or your profession. For me, it was my profession that caught up to me as I tried to do everything while I was in BC.

After resting on Monday I felt good enough to jump back into things for my Tuesday workouts. I had a great 3100 m swim. Sure, it was supposed to be 3500 m and I ditched my cooldown because I was famished (mental note drink a smoothie before a long swim workout), but I still swam a lot and strong. Then even though I felt a bit tired I completed my run workout in good form.

Wednesday was good too - at least it was in the morning. I completed my bike workout and it was a good one. By the afternoon though I wasn't feeling that great. Very tired and my stomach was giving me the gears. I went to lie down for a 20 minute nap (I do this often and don't even need an alarm), and ended up being asleep for 2 hours. Whoops.

I still went to my chi running class that night. It was the first one in a series of three and even though I didn't have a lot of energy I wanted to be there. It was a great first class I might add. Tons to remember, but it does feel more efficient to run that way!

On Thursday I was groggy getting up, but I didn't let that stop me. I drank a small smoothie, then had a decent 4000 m swim. Things got worse after that, but I pressed on. I decided I'd do my stair workout even though the cheeks of my arse were bouncing off my heels. At the very least I'd get to practice my chi running right?

Well, the first 12 minutes went well. I was chi running and had a good pace. Then I felt a jab of pain in my guts. What the... I got to the stairs I was going to do repeats on and felt another jab. Ow. I ran the stairs two by two. Okay, this isn't bad. Maybe it was a one off.

The stairs I might add were brilliant. They are wooden steps leading up to one fo the main roads, but with all the trees you can't tell you are near a main road. Plus there is this little creek that runs beside it so I had the background music of water gurgling by. It was bliss.

The third set of stairs my guts kicked in again. To the point I stopped as I walked down because I wasn't sure if things were going to just drop right out of there. Steady now... Things calmed down. I then proceeded to run up and down three more times. This time my guts spoke even louder.


For fear of an 'incident' I decided to call it a day. It was very disappointing. I started to run back to the car, but only made it a few steps before things started feeling like crud again. The walk back was a meditiation walk where I focussed on my footsteps and breathing.

The next day I woke up bright and early for my run. My mind was eager, but again, my body put the kabosh on everything. I sat up and immediatly broke into a sweat. Whoa. Then I felt a sharp cramp in my stomach again. Now I was getting ticked off.

Mind: What now?? I have a swim to do. It's not even a long swim. Why aren't you letting me go swim? I should be working out.

Body: I told you. You need to listen to me and get more rest. You are tired all the time. I'm not letting you go. Oh, and stop 'shoulding' all over yourself. You should do this, you should do that. Bah. Exactly who is the should for?

Mind: You are such a....

(This is when my spirit interrupted.)

Spirit: Sisters! Why are you fighting? We are a team. Body, mind, spirit. There is no 'I' in team!

Mind: Body is not letting me train. We are only a few short weeks out of the race and I don't feel prepared. I had to take time off because of my neck, and now this. It's not fair.

Body: I keep telling her, she pushed herself too much and now she has to do as I say and select the workouts she needs to do.

Spirit: Mind, how about you listen to Body for this week. Afterall, you've done all the hard work, now is the icing on the cake. Just do what you can and look after yourself so Body doesn't shut you down totally.

Mind: This so sucks. Oh and tell Body if she keeps standing behind you and sticking her tongue out I will come over there and give her a hurtin'!

And so the battle raged. I'm not sure why things are happening this way this season, but they are. I will just have to listen and honour what's going on and follow the principle of 'doing the best I can with what I have'.

That said, my acceptance of the entire situation was tested very soon after...

Someone very close to me, whom I care what they have to say, uttered the following words to me, "You don't try to improve your Ironman racing." It's a good thing I had my seatbelt on or we may have had a vehicular incident. I then went into shock.

When the shock wore off I found myself seated across from the person. I said in the calmest manner I could muster, 'That really upset me when you said I don't try to improve at Ironman. Why would you think that?'

The reply, 'Because you don't try to improve.'

I gotta tell ya, it was at this point that the cartoon version of me leapt off her seat and with her mane of blond hair flying she screamed the war cry 'AIYEEEEEEEEE!'. As her body hurled through the air her arms were outstretched with hands in a claw like position ready to grab and remove the jugular from the perpetrator of such blasphemy. As I did so I'd be saying in a rather commanding voice 'I am trying to improve Mr. Know Nothing Man! I am five-foot-freakin-two-of-fury-mighty-darned-triathlete-ninja-I'm-gonna-knock-you-out-princess for the love of the Universe!!! How dare you question my training?!'

The human version of me calmly and cautiously sat on her hands and said, 'I'm not sure how you could think that.' Then, before he could speak a thought popped into her head, 'He is not an endurance athlete and knows nothing of the sport. Don't get upset, just teach.' The man has no idea how lucky he is that I'm a peace, love and granola girl...

So I listened, with hands still firmly and safely tucked under tush. He then said something to the effect that I don't have a time goal. That I say I just want to finish and this is why he didn't think I was trying to improve.

Ah. What we have here is a failure to communicate. Okay. Breathe Suse. And try to explain.

So I did. I explained that I do train with the thought I of improving. That although I don't have a time goal, I have process goals. They are just as tricky to achieve, but less disappointing than having just a time goal. Not to mention, one would assume that if I achieve all my process goals, that I will also invariably have a faster time than last year.

I also explained that a time goal is a tricky beast. What goal would I set? To be 5 minutes faster? 25? An hour? What if I set an hour, but only made it 5 minutes faster? Would that mean I failed? Nope, I like my process goals thank you very much. Still challenging, but more achieveable and less disappointment in the end.

Apparantly I had never uttered the phrase 'process goals' before so hence the confusion surrounding the fact that I actually do train to improve.

Of course all this came about at a time when I was struggling with the fact that I felt as if my missing workouts (for very good reasons I believe) may jeopordize my process goals.

Later on in the day, after the conversationm, I went out for my bike ride. On the advice of my coach I shortened the ride. I decided I'd do my beloved Horse Creek/Grand Valley loop. I set the intention that I would go by feel, but that I wouldn't take it easy. I would try to maintain a steady, strong pace.

The end result? I had a great ride. I ended up completing the 57 km route in 2:02 hours. Ten minutes faster than my previous best time.

Body: See, I told you if you listened to me I wouldn't let you down.

Mind: Hmpfff.

This morning I went for my scheduled two hour run and managed the negative split I was trying to achieve. I also came to the conclusion that my stomach issues were warning me that I was starting to tread into the future. I knew the feeling in my stomach was trying to get me to listen. That's my built in warning signal. Stomach upset = perk up and listen to what you are thinking. Are you staying in the present and being mindful, or are you going into the future where we don't know what is going to happen?

I was starting to leap into the future and worry about the race because of the missed workouts due to my neck. Then when I couldn't jump back into training full force things got even worse. So there you have it.

I'm feeling much better now and will continue to listen to my body as well as continue to improve my training.

Let's face it. I am Ironman girl - hear me ROOOOAAAARRR!!! Oh, and I don't apologize for how I choose to train for Ironman.

Peace out my beautiful friends.


  1. I think the gerbil needs to have the sedation dose upped.

    You did better than I would if someone told me I wasn't trying to improve. If I didn't punch their lights out, I'd, well, I'd **********************. This is a family blog after all. Suffice to say there is a limited job market for castrati suffering from a breathing impairment and attending weekly appointments at a proctologist.

    As for all the training, go read the zen parable about the artist commissioned to draw a cat.

  2. First off, props to you for heeding your body -- your tummy always sends that final warning, eh? Very proud of you for listening Susi!

    And to the dip$hit who said you are not trying to improve...where do I even begin. It just figures someone with the biggest blowhole doesn't have a clue what they are talking about -- geez, maybe if you're lucky he'll even offer to coach you. LMAO!!!!

    Keith -- OMG -- I think I know this parable, but I know it as the artist commissioned to draw a fish...

  3. "Stop shoulding all over yourself" - so, so funny. And I love how you said your mody and mind are sisters...that is a great way to think about things.

    I had a similair week to yours last week and am glad I had your post to read (minus the ruuuuuuddddddde comment). Not glad for you but glad I could listen to your outlook as I find it very helpful.

    19 days my friend. We'll get there!

    PS- I like your process goals too. You're brilliant!

  4. Oh, I can relate. The wheels fell off a bit this weekend as I walked around in a zombie like state whenever I wasn't training. A 2 hour nap was required to sort it out. The body was willing, but the mind wasn't.

    Sometimes our non-edurance friends mean well with what they say, but it still stings regardless. You know you are working to improve. And you are right, setting process goals is way better than time goals!! Good luck with the last bit of your training!

  5. You handled that amazingly well, by the way. I would have gone ape shit, no kidding. I try to channel my inner Susi sometimes and be nicer but that shit pisses me offffff - when they have NO clue to which they speak. Get out there mfer and see if you can do any better at 140.6 miles...

    OK, I feel better now. I'll kick his ass for ya if you want me too!

  6. Boy am I glad I came back to read this post! Holy Hannah it is a good one! Love the visual of the 5'4" blond triathlete ninja with sharpened nails raging through the air to attack that idiot. But sitting on your hands is much more diplomatic. I'll have to try that one. You are soooo almost there girl. The hay is in the barn, listen to your body know but it sounds like you already know that.