Reporting from my bed at 3pm in the afternoon isn't all inspiring. I know. But that's where I am. I would rather be busying myself with work and enjoying the 'easy' taper workouts that you're supposed to be rewarded with after months of training.
I've been rewarded with 3 boxes of kleenex, violent sneezing (demonstrating my core strength abilities - bonus?) and a itchy face that I would really just like to dunk in a bucket of ice water. Or smash into a wall.
Welcome to the taper.
For me, this often means facing a short period of illness that usually comes on 2-3 weeks before my big races and then vanishes in the nick of time, but nevertheless always challenging my mental state at what I would call, my weakest mental point - the end of the build. Bad timing? Well, maybe not.
The body is a funny thing. I should know, as working on bodies is one of my jobs. I got 3 jobs, mon (if you count laundry). But my body seems to like to be run hard week after week, like a racehorse on a winning streak. It doesn't like to stop. Not dissimilar to a racehorse that stops and then starts running in circles destined for the glue factory. Luckily, I think I can avoid the factory...
So, I have 'forced rest'. Every article you ever read will tell you 'undertraining' at a certain point is much better than 'overtraining'. I agree, but, dealing with 'undertraining' is a bit of a mental blow. However, I think it's a good challenge. All of a sudden you're 'forced' to think. You think, "Oh my god, this is the worst timing ever". Then you, or someone who cares about you, tries to explain the positives to you. You agree, but are still irritated, but eventually you're also so irritated from being sick somehow they cancel out. And you're left with a strange sense of clarity.
Who am I? What am I doing? What is the point? Where am I going?
I don't have all the answers, but this 'forced rest' has helped me slow down, take stock of what I've done to get my body and mind to it's current state (minus a pesky cold) and appreciate that my body has more influence over me than I think. I can be stressed with my upcoming race (and often, I have been) but really, no matter how much control I think I exude over myself, no matter how much mental toughness I can dish upon myself, it's kind of interesting to realize that my body can have a whole other level of operational power. As in, it will do what it wants to do.
And here is where I think that is most useful.
In a race with many factors, variables, etc and on and on, there's a lot to focus on, freak out about, blame, whatever. In my best races, I've stopped thinking (almost) altogether. My body just does what it wants to do. (Because honestly, what kind of normal person thinks, "Sweet, I'm going to pee in my pants now"? No one - so I'll chalk it up to letting the body 'rule')
In a weird way, my body is doing the same thing now. It is, essentially, "in the zone". Now the jumpy quick to judge part of me is thinking being sick is bad. But, the older-is-wiser (and influenced by other more logical people who are getting full nights sleep) part of me is also helping me learn that the sickness is also part of training, a good learning and reflection tool, and ironically, a confidence builder. Because, at a certain point, constant positive feedback isn't going to help you get stronger. Like telling yourself you're a really good singer when you're tone-deaf awful, you're not going to strive to be better. So my body reminding itself that it has variance in which it can be rendered useless (or so it feels) to absolute limit breaking efforts, is all part of getting better.
Triathlete, know thyself.
I worried, should I write this blog and then have people read it and, oh no, what if that makes them feel better about themselves because I'm sick and they're not and that will give them superpowers?? Well, I guess I decided I don't really care how me being sick will make anyone else feel (except the person that lives with me, who luckily knows the routine and is not phased by the crazy up and downs of it).
So I am sick, but it won't be too long until I'm not, and my body is patched up and I feel better than ever. Better than ever?! What a nice thought.
We leave tomorrow for a roundabout road trip before arriving in Utah next week - first to Bend, Oregon, then Moab and then in this very very hot place they call St George. I couldn't be more excited to be going to such a warm place. My last 2 (of 3) Ironman's were done in the 34+ C temperature range, so it's only natural to continue the trend.
Happy training, and if you do get a sniffle leading up to your next big race, don't let it get to you.
Here's to the booger. Yippee-kay-yay :)
(really channelling my inner Samuel L. Jackson but that is for another post entirely)