Thursday, November 11, 2010

I Miss Training

I have been dreaming about triathlon. Every night. That and horses but I always dream about horses (I miss riding too). I miss how I used to feel. I miss how it structured my life. When I was training, and in shape, I felt on top of the world. I felt healthy, energized, and alive. Now, I'm simply existing, just focusing on getting "through" this difficult time of my life. But I'm not living. I could waste my entire life, stuck in this rut, just getting through. But it's not enough. I'm deeply dissatisfied and restless.

I miss how training used to structure my life. I was so damn organized. I had a training plan, I packed my workout bags the night before, I went to bed at 9. I woke up at 6. I woke up and worked out, warming my body up, gently awakening to the day. I went to work feeling energized and positive. I was so productive during those times. Not a minute wasted. Everything was planned out in my routine. I miss the security and comfort of my training routine.

I miss what triathlon used to do for my confidence. Yes, it made me feel better about my body image but it was more than that. I felt like I could conquer anything. No task was too big. I could move mountains, although I discovered upon trying to move heavy furniture up stairs by myself resulted in muscle strains. Just because I felt like I could move mountains, didn't mean I should. But it was a great feeling. That superhero feelilng.

I miss the release I used to get during and after a workout. Whatever I was fretting over seemed like less of an ordeal after a good, hard run. Problems were always smaller after a workout. Sometimes, I even solved problems simply by forgetting about it for an hour and going for a mind-numbing swim.

I miss the pure and simple enjoyment of feeling my body move and sweat and struggle. The labored breathing, the grit and grime caked on my skin, the dirt in my eyes. The sunshine browning my legs and painting rose on my cheeks. The wind in my face as I screamed down a hill at 40 mph. I've never felt so alive. I miss running most of all. When I would run, my mind would quiet and settle, content to just watch, observe, and take it all in. It was completely freeing. During those times, I would relish every footstep, every breath. I wanted to draw out the seconds of float between each footfall and make it last forever. There was no place else I wanted to be, nothing else I wanted to be doing. I was happily immersed in the moment, even if it was an 8 hour grueling bike ride in the mountains.

I miss the complete and utterly exhausted feeling deep in the bones of my body after an 80-mile Saturday bike, followed by 20-mile Sunday run. Sunday morning, my alarm would go off and I would think, "There is just no WAY I can do this." My mind numb and fuzzy with fatigue, my body sore and aching, my head screaming from being in the aero bars for an eternity just a few hours ago, I focused on the simple task of strapping my running shoes to my feet and lacing up. One foot in front of the other, I began to shuffle. A few miles later, the shuffle became a jog. And then a run. My body warmed up, the stiffness evaporated, and my mind filled with a gentle elation that would stay with me like a dear old friend for the next several hours. I learned that nothing is impossible, even if it seems that way. Nothing is ever as bad as it seems.

I learned a lot of things during training and racing. I learned no matter how bad it gets, no matter how much you're suffering, it always passes. Always. Sometimes, you just have to accept the pain and the suffering and wait it out. These devils on my shoulders never failed to leave after a few minutes. I learned patience. Both with myself and in pursuit of my goals. I learned to be gentle with myself and my body. Speed doesn't matter. Long-term health and happiness always takes precedence. Triathlon gave me a simple rewards: put the time in, get the results you desire in return. Consistency, doing a little every day, and just putting one foot in front of the other will get you to your goal. Every seemingly insurmountable mountain can be broken down into smaller hills. I miss learning the never-ending life lessons triathlon taught me.

I miss the deep satisfaction of finising a week's workouts. There is nothing more delicious than laying on the sofa in compression tights, eating pizza and being a couch potato on Saturday evening, resting up to prepare for Sunday's run, recovering from Saturday's ride, with the sole purpose of R&R. I felt like I had earned it. For the first time, I could rest without feeling lazy. And the Sunday post-run ice bath and nap was especially delicious. I earned those breaks. It's one of the few times I could truly rest and goof off without feeling guilty about not being more productive.

Since I've become sedentary over the last few months, I've noticed more aches and pain. More headaches. Less energy. Not to mention a deep feeling of apathy. I feel dusty around the edges. I want to begin training again. I need a goal. Maybe a half-Ironman to sign up for? A marathon? An ultra-marathon? Something big enough to scare me into training. To be honest, I miss Ironman training and racing. Looking back over the last couple of years, I was happiest and healthiest when in training for Ironman races. Why not do that again?

13 comments:

Diana said...

It's so true that being sedentary does make for a lot more aches and pains. At least "different" aches and pains. I lived those sedentary years-way too long. I know those feelings you speak of after a good workout. While I've not done the same "level" of training as you, I've done my own levels. I don't want to live any other way. I'm sidelined now from running due to stress fractures, so the biking (while it's still doable before winter weather hits!) and my other love, the kettlebells are on the front burner giving me the "fix" I so desire AND need.
I hope, and believe that you will find what you're looking for. You will find just the right thing to train for. Do what I did, skydive and leave all the crap up in the air and then live life looking at things (including the sky) in a whole different way!

Christi said...

Wow, I really can relate to your post today. Training really does makes a big difference in my life and I am lost without.

I hope you find the race you are looking for but until then we are here for ya.

Alisa said...

I think many of us can relate. Training provides a structure that nothing else can. I can't remember if you've done an ultra yet or not but that would be my suggestion. If you haven't done one it'll be even scarier. Not to say that marathons and half iron's aren't scary but to me there is nothing scarier than the unknown.

TRI714 said...

February 6th. Huntington Beach 1/2 or full Marathon. Far emough out to get ready for and close enough to get up here and do it. come on up, I'll run with you until you leave me in the dust.

Kona Jim said...

Great post! As I just cracked my clavicle on 10/30/10 and having done nothing but rest since, I too miss training. It certainly helps quiet my chaotic mind. Wishing you well in your future endeavors, whatever they may be!

Bob said...

Very nice, insightful essay. Now make it so!

hstryk said...

I've been feeling the same way. I miss it so much. The few times I've been able to squeeze in workouts when I feel up to it have made me euphoric. It's been a year since my last real run, 30 mile bike ride, 2,000 yard swim and intense strength training workout. I'm hoping I feel strong enough soon to get back into it, but I know I need to get back to training again. I miss all those same things. Thank you for writing this!

Wes said...

You EARNED your down time. Now, what are you waiting for?

Frank Eeckman said...

A sedentary lifestyle is not healthy. Much of people's aches and pains would disappear if they were more active. I am sure you will find something to train for. There is just so much to do and so little time..

Acadia42 said...

I just signed up for my first half ironman and I can't believe the motivation it provided. I've never done a half so it is the excitement of the unknown and fear that I might not be able to do it that are pushing me to workout. I'd say just listen to you body, maybe you just need a little break before you decide what your next goal is.

Ordinarylife said...

You hit the nail on the head - that is exactly how I feel when I am training.

Good luck finding your goal. I am thinking of doing an Ultra.

Kate said...

Yep- you took the words right out of my mouth too. I felt so antsy and unsettled before we started and during prep, but now, even though LOTS of things are not great for us, I feel just like ME.

Jason Hand said...

Excellent. Thank you.