Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Art and Science of Things--a Psychoanalysis--Part I

Don't forget to scroll before for a ton new pics from the Wis trip! Oh, and a Pac Beach sunset too.

I've had a lot of downtime lately. A lot. That gives me too much time to think. My stomach is 80% back to normal. I can eat...just not anything fun like coffee or chocolate. My fever is gone but I've been extremely tired. Unbelievably tired. It takes everything just to go into lab and put in 3/4 of a day. Plus, my glands are swollen, and I feel achy all over. Today, it took everything to get out of bed, take a shower, and get dressed. I gave up and went back to bed and called in sic. I go to the doctor tomorrow to get a bunch of tests done. It will be nice to get this over with. I just don't want to be sick anymore. I'm thinking I picked up something from the farm in Wisconsin and am having a hard time fighting it off. I'm just sick of being sick.

In addition to all this, Oscar is sick (big, black bunny). His stomach is hurting too. He went into the vet yesterday, and I've been force feeding him as often as I can manage as well as giving him all sorts of medications that's making him hate me. He is feeling a bit better today but he's never taken this long to recover before. Plus, the vet said his liver enzymes are way-high and he's anemic. He's on the older side, but he's also been sick and dehydrated. I'm hoping when he goes back in to get retested, he's back to normal. Maybe he's been doing marathons behind my back when I'm sleeping? Anyway, it's been very exhausting to try and deal with him and me at the same time.

I haven't worked out in over 2 weeks, and I'm totally freaking. I know that's irrational but my mind is very irrational right now. I hate how out-of-shape I was at the beginning of the season. Even though I was finishing my Ph.D. and moving across the country and changing jobs, I didn't consider that an excuse to stop exercising. There simply is no excuse. Ever. I had to work my tail off just to build back some sembalnce of a base. Just when I started to feel a bit stronger. boom. Sick and flat on my back. And here I am sick and not exercising. Resting. As I should be.

Nonetheless, I feel guilty and angry with myself. Angry that I can't exercise. Angry that I haven't forced myself anyway. Angry that I'm going to lose everything I've worked so hard to gain back. Angry that I'm going to miss the half marathon 10 days from now that I've already signed up for (America's Finest City). I was at the 10 mile point and feeling good. I just bought new shoes. I haven't worn them yet. On top of it all, I feel frustrated that after being as sick as I have been for as long as I have been, I haven't lost a single pound. Talk about unfair. That's usually the only perk.

I had forgotten how much exercise did for my mental well-being. I have been feeling very depressed lately. Frustrated. I can't seem to get anything done. My life is completely out of balance. And that is the ultimate goal. Balance.

Out of all this negative thinking, came some positive reflection as well. After reading several articles about overtraining in Triathlete and Runner's World, it occurred to me that I may have overestimated how much training and racing I was asking my body to do. Afterall, I distinctly remember being surprised I wasn't more sore after my workouts. Surprised I could "handle" such a large load so quickly after taking so much time off.

Afterall, this is only my 3rd season of triathlon, and my 2nd season was verrrry light b/c of the whole PhD-thing. After an early spring half marathon in 2005, I took the rest of the season off, only to fight to get some of it back mid summer. I regained enough to do a sprint triathlon, 10K, and sprint duathlon in July, and then from August until January...nothing. That's right. Nothing.

I got back into it in a hurry. Injured myself repeatedly. I hate being out of shape and remembering where I was. It's a sore reminder of how much I've lost every time I get out there. By the time spring 2006 came round, was itching to race. Did some early spring road races, and a duathlon. Kicked off the tri season with a sprint in May. Then, it seemed the races came pouring in, and I hated when I missed one. I was out of town for one of them, and I was so mad at myself. I compulsively feel like I have to do every one. About this time, I joined the tri club and started going to as many workouts as I could. By the time the Camp Pendleton International Tri rolled around, I was exhausted. I remember feeling disappointed that the race took as much out of me as it did. Upon reflection, I realize now that it probably wasn't lack of training or fitness but lack of rest and taper beforehand.

Now, I'm flat on my back and forced to reflect. At first, I didn't see any connection. Afterall, I have IBS, and I have gotten sick from the farm before. That's nothing new. But it's never taken this long to recover. I now realize I may have been pushing myself too hard. No, I know I was pushing it too hard. But instead of sore muscles or a change in heart rate or burnout or overuse injury, the toll on my body and fatigue accumulated over time, weakening my immune system. And now, I'm taking forever to recover from this bug. So that's my psychoanalysis and diagnosis. Prognosis? Very good. As long as I rest and stop being so doggone hard on myself.

It's time to take a step back and re-plan my training plan and re-think my training goals. I need to figure out how to hold back a little more. My new creed is becoming: little and often. If I can do a little most every day, it will be a consistent routine that won't overtax my body. So that's where I am now. Replanning stage.


Cliff said...

How come i don't see having fun in the replanning :)...i sure u get some of that in..

Cliff said...

U know the irony of is about discipline..not discipline about pushing hard but discipline of when to slow down or stop altogether..

I have been thinking about this too. I hope you and Oscar feels better...

Jodi said...

It's a good thing that you are able to turn your illness into something positive. I totally understand where you're coming from. I usually listen to my psychotic training urges way more than I listen to my body too. Maybe we can both work on that together :)

Love the Wisconsin pics! Man, do I miss Madison!

Jenö said...

Man it sounds like you were nasty sick. I am glad you are feeling at least a bit better and hope you get back to 100% soon. Good idea to consult your body and factor it into your plan!

Anonymous said...

Rachel, RE: to the comment on my blog, I don't know how it is in the triathlon scene for women but I know in the cycling race community women get a pretty good amount of far as skill/fitness wise, prize money and etc is another issue...but I can name at least 5 girls off the top of my head that could kick my ass in a cycling race and I'm sure the same goes for other racers. Unfortunately there's not enough women racers though to make enough of a difference, there needs to be more.

Anonymous said...

lol, cows, cows, and more cows.

bunnygirl said...

Best wishes to you and Oscar. Tidbit sends her well wishes, too!

Just take it slow when you start training again, and all will be well. We all want to throw ourselves into it from time to time, but rest is when the body heals itself.

Mon said...

Poor Oscar, maybe he has sympathy tummy problems. They can sense when we are feeling icky. Hope the poor guy snaps back quick! I hate giving the buns medicine they hold a grudge!

You'll get back to your training, but it is good that you've had all this time to reflect on things. Sometimes a mental workout is equally as rewarding as a physical one!

jessie_tri_mn said...

I'm glad to see you're going to the doctor. Hopefully they can give you something to stop the madness!

I've been in that overtraining state... when I first started running I figured there was nothing else to do but train for a marathon. I couldn't understand how I could be so "in shape" but have such a weak immune system -- I got sinus infections like crazy.

Hang in there, you'll come back strong.

Hope the bunny feels better soon as well!

Chris said...

Great pics!

Athletes always have such a hard time giving our bodies a chance to rest and recover. It's sometimes helpful for me to remember that it's only during our recovery periods when the body has time to rebuild and realize the gains from training.

Training to no end without ample time to let the body rebuild itself is futile.

Donimator said...

a coach once tought me, one must train hard and also rest hard.

Good luck on your recovery!