Sunday, 15 November 2009

Stop...and Go!!!

After five years of training for Ironman and gradually building our bodies to be strong enough to cope with regular 20+ hour weeks of solid training it's easy to see why you can become blind to the stresses and strains your body still has to go through even though you become mentally and physically immune to the demands you place upon it day after day, week after week.

When I first started training for Austria in 2007, it was a slow build. I was stressing my body little by little and seeing how it could cope with the longer sessions. The same for Tom too. Eventually we hit this year with the ability to train really hard and really long without injury or illness and compete in two Ironman events within 7 weeks of each other. A great testament to how well our bodies had adapted over time to the necessary demands. And also great testament to how we treated our bodies in terms of nutrition and sleep to allow those injury few years to happen.

A comment left on Tom's joint blog last weekend however, has really given me food for thought this week. Our good friend Gabriel commented on Tom's lack of injury... 'You don't seem to get injured like me which helps me back off the workload when I am nearing my limit.'

It's made me think an awful lot about how I felt this year and what I could have done to have improved my perfomances, afterall my training was as consistent as one would hope and I suffered no injuries, neither did Tom. But did the fact that we allowed our bodies to soak up high volume day after day, week after week actually work against us in some way as opposed to for us?? Would a few days of enforced rest due to the odd snivel or tight muscle have allowed a few more extra recovery hours to give us that extra bit of 'zap' that I feel we both lacked this season?? Interesting words me thinks and Gabriel's comment has truly hit a note for me.

On Sunday evening while I was working last weekend I started the hideous process of coming down with gastroenteritis. On Monday I was forced to lie on the sofa in my dressing gown for fear of not being near a loo. On Tuesday I was 'fixed' and trained, did a light swim in the am and then did my harder treadmill session followed by run club on Tuesday evening. On Wednesday I had to fit my longer run in early in the morning due to work commitments etc and so I ran 13miles. I thought I'd had a 24hr bug and was amazed that I had woken up on Tuesday feeling so fine, albeit a little 'empty'! Off I went and trained hard on Thursday too. However, on Friday I had the beginnings of a sore throat and on Saturday morning I decided not to train. By yesterday afternoon I started loosing my voice and now as I type this I'm practically mute. Time for me to think about Gabriel's comment. Is this enforced rest the thing that is going to give me my zap back? Laryngitis is a viral thing I think and god only knows where I've picked it up from but actually I think I'm happy I have. Monday's gastroenteritis was the first time I've been ill this year. Nobody likes being ill (especially not the athletic type) but I do think there are nuggets in Gabriel's observation) and I'm hoping this means my body is not as strong as it was over the beginning of the year and the result of that will mean I come back a little fresher. I see that I should have given my body more time to recover from the stomach bug on Monday before resuming training as usual but that's the typical old Ironman in me. I'd be interested to know what you think? Do you never get injured or ill allowing you to never back it off? Or do you suffer from the odd niggle or snivel but always come back stronger? Answers on a postcard...

Today's post is a joint blog because the true 'writer' in the Williams household is in the middle of writing a feature for Triathlon Plus. Tom's just had his first piece published in this months edition and it's fantastic to see his great skills on the published page! Here's to many more :)

Time to take my silent voice out for a stroll in the woods for some fresh air. I haven't trained for two days which would usually make me grizzly and unbearable to be around. Gabriels' off the cuff remark appears to have worked wonders, but if I don't come back like Usain Bolt there'll be hell to pay ;)

Happy Winter training guys.

H x

Daily pix still here and here.


Ben G said...

Nice writing H. I think you may find things a little different now. Greater work commitments may force you to take more training rest days (work will make it a tiring enough day) This may well result in a bit more ZAP. Enforced rest thorough illness or injury wouldn't be my first choice, spotting when you've built a good week or block of training and taking a rest is much more enjoyable. Remember the weight lifters adage 'it's during rest days that you get strong' Hope you recover quickly...


runtilyoudrop said...

Helen, Reflecting on what I said I think it is probably best to avoid injury or illness as a way of getting fresh but it does allow the opportunity to rest. I think the 3 stages of training to train training to compete and training to win fit into this too. Only when you are at the last stage should you be using every last bit of your mental and physical energy. Currently I am stuck at the trying to train to train but hope to be back on the programme by xmas.

H said...

I agree completely about avoiding injury...BUT I found that the only way I would give myself time off would be if I was injured because IM training meant I was ALWAYS tired and that was never excuse enough to skip training sessions. IM training is long and relatively slow in comparison to 5km or half marathon training or just TT training so with no intensity as such in the sessions I think I personally struggled to take time out. I almost got used to being tired and it became the norm. Now however, not training for IM I can see the woods for the trees and plan to have rest days if I'm tired... it's taken a long time for me to recognise that though :) Happy training all x