Friday, November 2, 2012

Quoting Marilyn.

These last few months have been hard in many different ways.  The outcome of it all in regards to triathlon includes but is not limited to a complete failure of my racing plans, multiple injuries, exhaustion, ongoing fatigue, the breakdown of my support system, and finally a breakdown of my daily workout routine.  I feel like I have spent the last two months trying to turn into the skid and now I have just run out of road.

While I am going through the motions of figuring out my next step and trying to go forward, I realize that I am totally paralyzed.  There is no real momentum.  People keep offering helpful, but often off base suggestions (last night someone suggested that taking a boxing class would cure what ails me) and with each friendly deflection, I am finding myself less able to maintain any humor or positivity.  The fault is not with the people or their suggestions, the problem is mine.  I am not running under my own power, my own motivation right now.  Until that is happening again, there is no true solution to the problem.

At time is seems like I simply need more rest and healing time, at other times it seems like I need a freakin' intervention.  I read a post in an online forum discussing depression and the endurance athlete.  A lot of opinions weighed in as it was a fairly unstructured conversation, but one comment stuck with me.  At the risk of mushing a toe under the boot of plagiarism, here is the entire comment:

"I'm no clinician but my take is that so many endurance athletes, especially those at the professional/elite/even top AG level truly must make this "sport" a "lifestyle" in order to be competitive. Just look at weekly training hours for those aforementioned groups, and then think about all the other variables excellence demands; early bed-times, lots of couch time, etc, etc. Given that the sport becomes a lifestyle, it also becomes a big part of one's identity; ask lots of serious endurance athletes what they are, and my guess is that you hear often hear husband/wife, father/mother, triathlete/runner, accountant/engineer. 

So, it follows that when you disrupt a part of someone's identity, they are likely to become depressed (not sure all the reasons, but it's certainly true) which is why I think that so many athletes start showing signs of depression when they are injured, during the off-season when they are not training, or when they retire, because that big part of their identity goes away, which I would guess creates a lot of cognitive dissonance. 

I think that is why it is important to be mindful of the balance that must be struck between completely giving your all for/into something (good thing IMO) but also, not allowing any one thing to become your identity (also good thing, IMO), which can be at odds with each other (no magic recipe here). 

Lots of good ideas have already been thrown out here re; getting involved in coaching, supplying, etc when time comes not to compete, or for some, it may mean completely stepping away and finding something else. "  -Bstulberg

I have highlighted the part that I think is at the crux of the problem for me right now.  I am not a wife, mother, triathlete, braider.  I am a triathlete who braids to pay the bills.  I also am a bed warmer for a Jack Russell Terrier.  At this point in my life, I am not much else.  My job and lifestyle inflicts so much isolation that triathlon has become the central focus of my life.  I cannot run right out and buy a life, a new career, or a loving relationship.  It just doesn't work that way.

Initially, I was able to stay focused on how not training or doing something more remedial was just another way to make myself a better, more solid athlete.  In the wake of the dissolution of my coaching relationship, though, I am having trouble finding focus.  With the loss of focus has been a loss of motivation.  Intellectually, I recognize this as a rough patch, I have been through them before, and I know there are better times ahead.  Marilyn said "good things fall apart so better things can fall together".  This has always been true in my experience with one caveat.  You have to stay active in trying to move to a better place.  Losing momentum derails progress completely.

Right now, this is the way things are and to make sweeping changes based on a degree of discomfort would probably lead to regretting those decisions.  It is better to be lonely than in bad company.  I cannot and to a degree would not, change the situation.  This is just a patch of rough ground and it would be a shame to quit just because it is hard.  It is easy to look around at other people's lives, their journey's and think that they had smooth sailing from moment one.  I doubt that is really the case.  It's just that we don't always post the true struggle to facebook.  Life's challenges are personal, often private things and that cannot be contested by anyone but yourself.

Essentially, the situation boils down to this:  I am feeling around in the dark, looking for my bootstraps.

“I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they're right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” -Marilyn Monroe

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