Sunday, 11 January 2009

Happy New legs....

It feels like an eternity since I was last sitting at this computer splurging and regurgitating the contents of my mixed mind into our blog... or rather should I say my cheaper pyschotherapists couch!!!  It feels good to be back in the hot seat with Sunday's evening clock tick tocking away with all that is loved and familiar surrounding me.  No more airport lounges, hotel rooms or internet cafes costing million pounds a sentence to tell you of our shinaningans.

I feel a deep delve into the contents of my wibbly wobbly mind to try and begin this year on an even keel but I promise I shall try and keep it short.

After the most amazing and wonderful wedding and honeymoon we threw ourselves (as you know) into Robin Brew's Winter Training Camp at Club La Santa (cockroaches an' all) ten days of training fun in the sun... or so I thought.  The aim of the camp in Lanza was to get high cycling volume in, some good swimming and of course the odd run here or there.  Now those that know Lanzarote or that have indeed raced the Ironman there will know that it is a devil of an island with it's long, long hills surrounded by acres of lava fields and winds that could turn anyone mental (see above pic).  On the first day we went off for an easy ride and so three groups were formed group one being the fastest.  I set my stall out early, I wanted to test myself on this trip and the only way to do that was to see if I could hack it with the big boys. The answer to that one is a rather swift and large 'NO' but hey I hung in there as hard as I could and when my legs could take no more I was spat out of the back (this happened quite regularily) but they waited for me and back into the pack I went, legs grinding out the miles as hard as they could, heart attempting to clamber out of my very mouth, lungs on the edge of bursting... all while they chatted happily, oblivious to the wheezing weirdo amongst them :)

For the first couple of days I coped (just) with the help of Tom and his back wheel he would drag me back into the fold and it was good but it was hard, very, very hard.  Mentally it was as challenging as it was physically because every day from day one I was having my legs ripped off and they weren't flat, slow, short rides, they were long, hilly, windy and much faster than my heart, lungs, legs and mind were capable of.  All good training though, the only way to make improvement is to test yourself.  Unfortunately I think I blew myself to pieces.  I coped well until Thursday, 7 days in.  On Wednesday Tom and I swam 2km in the open-air 50m pool (in the dark), wolfed down breakfast before 8.30am to ride the Ironman course (approx 101 miles having to cut a small section out due to road works.)  I loved it, I rode well, I ate like a horse - actually I ate everything except a horse, Snickers, Fizzy Coke a Kit Kat chunky and a Mars Bar they've all become new bike nutrition friends, mmmm :) As soon as we got back from the ride I ran an easy and very comfortable 12km off it before having to be back in the pool for 4pm for another 2km swim set.  In hindsight (oh that wonderful thing) I should have had a rest day on Thursday, but this is me we're talking about, and it appears I had an inability to see when I should stop.  The whole week had been structured more-or-less as the day I just described, the only changes being the length of the bike rides, they varied from 120km to 90km, still not short and always with a run off them followed by a pool session and the day always beginning with a swim in the dark.  

Anyway I broke myself into a million pieces mentally, legs and body to follow shortly after.  I questioned everything for the next three days.  Do I want to do Ironman? Maybe I don't want to do it anymore?  Do I want to qualify for Kona? Actually I don't think I do.  Am I going slightly mad? What's my life all about? Will I ever be happy with my training or my results?  But before you pick up the phone and send the Samaritans round here (and that's for Tom!  I mean poor Tom listening to my broken mental drivel) it did clarify a few things for me.  Yes, I need to change (for my sanity), no I'm not the same as Tom, we don't have the same goals (although I'm crap at defining my own so I just choose his) and I'm sure this is no revelation to any of you that know us both and actually it's no revelation to me but I just ignore it and carry on using Tom's goal setting as my own and then am constantly gutted when I don't achieve those goals. So now I have to work out what MY goals are????...answers on a postcard please.  You don't expect me to actually know what I want do you? 
So you see pushing yourself over the mental and physical edge does have it's benefits!!! In the last 9 days I have done 440miles of cycling, 40km of swimming and 75 miles of running. And that was the easy bit, the mental breakdown afterwards has become the hard bit because now I need to know the answers to those questions.  What do I actually want?

The answers out there... somewhere.

Hel. x

P.s I have regained my sanity and am no more a snivelling wreck you'll be pleased to hear.  The sound of our wheelie bins blowing around the street has brought me back to Angleterre with a bump!!! :)


Ben G said...

I think Helen with that volume you are mentally exhausted, get yourself recovered before you start searching. Don't search too hard for those answers Helen, they will come to you.

Jevon said...

Morning H...
They say the five stages of Grief are
1. Denial and Isolation
2. Anger
3. Bargaining
4. Depression
5. Acceptance

I think in some kind of Ironman non-grief way, you've been through all of these and are probably have been - in some weird way - reborn, ready to be yourself.

Take time, keep training but remember rest and recovery are as much a part of the training process as battering yourself on a bike or in the pool.

But, most of all, I'd start from the basis of 'enjoying' your training. And I mean, really enjoying it... looking forward to getting up to do it etc... if you don't have that then the whole thing will be a grind. If you're not enjoying it then look at volumes and intensity and adapt to suit.

Yours, in chocolate

H said...

Thanks boys, I think I do need an easy, easy week of enjoyable sessions where I can avoid soul searching and leave it until my mind is more evenly balanced! Actually, are women ever balanced???? x

Khara Mills said...

H, I'm not in a position to give any advice re Ironman or Kona, obviously, but I think you've taken massive steps in understanding yourself more, just by being able to see that you need to establish your OWN goals. If it took to feel broken to find this out, it's worth it and you're already stronger for being able to go there mentally and physically any way!

Definitely take your time with this, you have got time to spare even if you don't think you have. Your head has to be a little clear for things to start falling into place, but I really think they already have and soon you'll know where you want to be.

Remember, no pressure, enjoyment has to be a HUGE part of the decision and the plan...

Khara xx

Anonymous said...

Ouch H! That sounds very painful - and I don't mean the training, I mean the mental burnout that it's left you with. Take this week really steady and maybe even next week too and then when you're mentally fresh enough set your long term goals, but perhaps more importantly set yourself goals for the next 6-8 weeks. Oh, and eat chocolate! The bit which impressed me most about this post was you eating three choccy bars in one ride! If only chocolate didn't melt so quickly here I'd do the very same thing! ;-)
Lotsa love, Eek x

Fiona aka Ironwife said...

Wow, that sounds painful, in all senses of the word. Hope you have given yourself lots of R & R. I really envy you athletes for your sense of purpose and fitness levels but would much rather have my inner peace, any day (probably why I've never run further than 6K!!!). You want satisfaction, here's my advice.. You and Tom enjoy a romantic night together and who knows where you will be in 9 months time ... You will never look back, I promise!

Anonymous said...

Classic symptoms of overtraining. Rest, eat well and ignore Tom (for a few days).
Love from Doctor Ady ( Polestar Petty's premier first aider).