I was passed flushed. I was a strange tint from both being hot and oxygen being drained from my face to my quivering muscles. I was slightly embarrassed at how hard it felt but I was desperate not to let it show. From racing I’m decent at not letting my form get sloppy with fatigue but my face and nervous eyes gave me away. It had been only 15 minutes of strength training and my extra week of “recovery” was killing me. To be entirely honest it wasn’t just an extra week, it was neglecting strength training all spring. Who am I kidding, winter too.
Last summer I was all over my strength training. Unlike many endurance athletes I’ve typically loved strength training. I love how confident it makes me feel. My perception of my body is never better than when I’ve been lifting. It doesn’t matter if my body actually changes, it looks better to me. It also is an immense mental boost in my racing. When it gets real hard I always tell myself that my time in the weight room will carry my through, and pass the weaker competition.
Last winter after healing my broken body from the hardest honeymoon ever, I was going to start a new routine. A colleague at the YWCA even helped me devise a new plan to support my running goals for the winter. In my grand 19 month training plan towards my first ½ ironman triathlon, last winter was supposed to be my running volume phase. Turned out that I focused almost solely on running. I didn’t fall in love with the strength plan and too often I justified skipping it because it was my “off” season. I’d hit it up hard in the spring.
I kicked off “spring” and the supposed shift to a bike focus phase with an indoor tri in early April. But then it kept snowing. And snowing. It stopped snowing and the ice let out just in time for my May 19th Albert Lea Tri. I got so frustrated with the miserable biking weather that everything suffered. Bad excuse I know. Hindsight is 20/20 and now I realize it would have been a good time to put in some serious hours on that neglected strength training. Too bad that occurred to me right as the weather finally broke.
Ever since then I was singularly focused on making up lost time on my bike. I had the Trinona Triathlon looming ahead of me and I had no interest in weights. After my incredible breakthrough race, I allowed myself a good long recovery. I needed it physically and emotionally.
Last week I didn’t really need more recovery. It had been two weeks since Trinona and it should have been time to build back up. Instead I was so swamped with work I passed off minimal “training” as extended recovery. Big mistake.
I am not one of those fitness professionals that are addicted to exercise. I am not endless enthusiasm. I get in ruts, fall off the wagon, and lose momentum just like most people. My expertise lies not in obsession with exercise but loads of experience convincing myself to do it. This was one of those times.
So it was in a suburb of Toronto at the YMCA with my dad that I found myself unevenly flushed. There was no excuse to skip strength training and I had many road trip consumed and Chinese cuisine calories to motivate me. I wrote my plan in the car and then got through half of it before it hit me. As I grimaced shyly at my plan in the unfamiliar gym I was feeling sadly deconditioned. My recovery had slid into atrophy built on a foundation of neglect. Oy. Ouch.
I’ve been here before. It’s time to get the ball rolling, to pick up the slack, to get back in saddle. It’ll be fun. It’s that special kind of fun that’s satisfyingly hard. I may not be proud of the pitiful weights I lifted, but I am pleased at picking them back up. With persistence will come confidence. In the meanwhile at least one of my clients will be delighted that I’m as sore I as usually make her.
I’d love to hear that I’m not alone. What is something you struggle to convince yourself to do and then are so glad you did it? When have you fallen out of a good habit and then felt like you had to pick it up back at square one?