Throughout this holiday season, I have been a good little duck, training (and blogging) consistently. I have also been away from home, isolated, thrust into family obligations and left in the wake of an emotional baggage garbage barge. I have had issues with food, insecurity, people, training, injury, even fashion.
Anytime I travel, I also deal with managing my food, workouts, and rest & recovery. Things that seems second nature can seem overwhelming or impossible when I am on the road. Even the simplest tasks require a strategy session. But the biggest challenge, by far, is the isolation. Until you go day after day, week after week, living in hotel rooms, never quite able to relax, with no trace of yourself in your surroundings, you cannot imagine the loneliness of life on the road. It would be very easy with no one watching, no one setting an example, no one caring what you do (you are just another face in a crowd at a truckstop), to let all of your goals and discipline slip away and float down the river of ease and convenience. For me, that would be as deadly as a hunter with a duck call and a retriever.
With none of my support network within a thousand miles, I survive on on the road due to the merits of my virtual life. My coach was in regular contact through emails, training peaks, and telephone. I have friends that I talk to regularly, with whom I can be completely honest and depend on the favor being returned. And then there is the vast online triathlon community.
I blog to provide accountability, allow me to gather insight into myself, to polish my writing skills and for fun. However, I read blogs for different reasons. I read them to feel connected, to see how other people are dealing with the same issues I am and to stay immersed in a healthy, motivated group of like-minded people. Nothing helps me more than opening up a page and finding out that Meredith from SwimBikeMom.com is struggling to manage similar food issues, that she is also learning to be an endurance athlete and that she is making progress in the face of being human. Finding out that a runner in a nearby TX town who runs marathons is also going crazy during the holidays, or that an K from runningtohim.blogpsot.com, an ultra marathoner, dealt with a "wonky Achilles" during a race and survived, helps me from feeling overwhelmed. It's nice to know also that DW's wife, the star athlete and blogger (who shall remain nameless lest I seem like a stalker), has had a her share of disappointments (though it bears mentioning that her way of dealing with them is ultra positive) and her words often put things into perspective. I have a tendency to put people on a pedestal. This helps me see that you don't magically transport to the finish line because of some freakish genetic ability, but rather by putting one foot in front of the other, doing the work, sometimes falling down but always getting back up and arriving there with loads of other people just like you. Sometimes, they just make you laugh out loud (that would be you Meredith!).
If you can't surround yourself with athletes who lead a healthy lifestyle, then you will find yourself immersed in the real world where chicken belongs in a basket and pizza is a vegetable. In order to be successful, you have to be around successful people. The Internet is a valuable tool and while I would never advocate replacing real life relationships with virtual ones, the online community can help fill in the gaps when your peeps aren't around!
THANKS TO ALL OF YOU!!!!!