I started working again last night. I had totally underestimated the physical toll it would take but it was good to be back in it. Unless a person does my job, they have no ability to fully grasp the role our dogs play in our lives. With all the traveling and isolation, they become a lot more than a pet. They are a sidekick, companion, friend, confidant, protector, and the only consistent "person" in our lives. The job brings with it a brutal loneliness that cannot be emphasized enough. The only answer is to manage it the best way you can. For many of us, our dogs are the key to doing that. They become a part of our identities and an extension of ourselves. (Now many psychologists are probably having fits over this paragraph but I think that talking to my dog is far preferable to talking to my beer or my prescription bottle or my imaginary friend. We all just do the best that we can.) I don't mean to say that a dog is as significant a loss as a member of a persons immediate family… unless you are one of those people for whom your dog IS your immediate family. Being at work last night was cathartic. Everyone understood. Everyone got it. They treated me gently and kindly and for that I am grateful.
|Little guy has some BIG shoes to fill!|
I am taking yet another day off from my workouts, making three in a row, but my body had nothing left to give after a night of braiding. I am torn since I don't think there is a lot to be accomplished by pushing myself into workouts right now but the mental clarity that comes as a result of a good workout would be an asset at the moment. However, I am substituting aimless miles for true rest and since the shoulder and ITBS is still a raging problem, maybe the best thing that will be a starting point a little further down the road that is not carrying so much of the season's baggage.
DW and I talked yesterday. I found myself barely able to get through the conversation without breaking down, though I found that my traitorous voice was all too willing to crack and betray me!! His verdict was that I needed some time, however long it took, to heal and come back to the game fresh and eager. Until that point, there was to be no focus on training but rather recreation, activity for the sake of enjoyment. Honestly, I was crushed… and pissed… and a whole bunch of other things that were probably no more appropriate to this than those two. I am simply taking some unstructured time in the off season. WHY do I feel like I am being punished or sent away?
By mid-August this year, I was looking at races and already starting to struggle. It wasn't everyday. It was sometimes, a bad workout here or there, a really rough night at work, a subtle loss of motivation manifesting as procrastination or even a little fear going into harder workouts. I didn't recognize the shift in motivation from passion and desire to determination and stubbornness. As a shift worker, it was all too easy to discount the implication of that extra cup of coffee that it took to get through the night. I was so focused on getting good rest I never stopped to ask myself why I was sleeping more and more, and yet not waking up refreshed. By the beginning of September, I was bargaining with myself to just keep it together and get through the planned races. After that, I could take some MUCH NEEDED downtime. The off season was dangling out in October there like a big, tasty carrot.
Now, I am getting it but under really different circumstances and that seems to be all the difference. I had planned to come to end of the planned race season fit and with a sense of accomplishment, reward myself with a little free time, have some fun then get down to the business of working on my run, doing a few running races for fun and experience, and revisiting the swim lessons that were helping to dredge some of the bad habits from my stroke technique. Instead, well… you know the "instead".
I'll be honest, my reaction to the decision was a mix of frustration and anger. If the stages of grief are accurate then I seem to be fluctuating between depression and acceptance. I was looking forward to getting myself back on a program and back to work, using my job and training as a distraction. I was hoping to use the structure of my workouts and the endorphins that follow to combat the depression. I am acutely aware of the fact that I am in no shape mentally to really limit my diet to compensate for the sudden loss of training volume, so that was adding to my impatience as well. Turns out, I am not in control of how this is going to go down.
|No one said this was supposed to be easy.|
If I believe myself and all the claims that I have made, this is a lifestyle not a diet/exercise "program". My training is not centered on a single race, a single season, or a single goal. If I am in this for the long haul, then this, like all the good times, is just another paver. I will come out of this. I may gain a couple of lbs, I WILL lose some fitness. But this, like all things is temporary. I am further along than I was at this point last year and my foundation going into next year is broader and stronger. To allow my insecurities to drive my into bad decisions now is going to chip away at that base far more than taking the time I need to return rested, healed, and refreshed.
I am reminded of a diagram that I posted at an earlier point, illustrating the path to success. It applies to triathlon and it applies to life. I thought you might enjoy it.