I am not really sure where this post is going to lead. At times I have so much I would like to get out of my head that my thoughts come out jumbled and “all over the place”, though I have not received that comment in quite a while. Let me start by saying this … I have been very frustrated lately … and not just with triathlon and training. I have been frustrated with my job, my writing, my friends, my training, my racing, my finances, my family, and just about anything you can be frustrated about. I already know the comments I will get about this issue, so let me also state that until you’ve been and are where I am, saying “just let it go” or “it will get better” is not helpful. I know everyone means well, but believing things will get better and just taking things doesn’t really work for me. Know what works? Writing things out and then reading it. The problem with frustrations in one part of life is that it bleeds over into other parts of your life, so even things that used to be “safe zones” get sucked into the vortex.
Let’s start with training shall we? I have posted here a few times on how my training, specifically biking, is not improving. A few months ago I decided to “start over” thinking that maybe I was doing too much and pulling back a little would help kick-start it. Nope. Last Sunday I have a 50 mile ride for the charity “Fallen Heroes” in Seffner, Florida. I felt good that morning, even with other frustrations in my head, and when I got out there I was eager to hit the road and see how my training was going. At first I felt strong, and was pretty comfortable in the ride. I was with a group that was near my speed and ability so I was pretty optimistic that the day was going to go well. It did until about mile 11, where the water stop was (a two loop, 25 mile course). As I was approaching it was a flat spot but my legs were on fire and it felt like I was peddling in mud. “No problem,” I thought. “Just use the Zen training and gear down until the bike comes to you”. Only problem was that I was already in the easiest gear, on a flat spot, and my legs were SCREAMING at me.
Thinking maybe I had a brake rubbing I stopped very quickly, took no water, and spun my tires to check. Nope. All good. So hopped back on and made the right turn. And it felt better at first, because there was a tailwind. Sure enough though, after the next turn I was right back where I was. There was a guy with a flat ahead of me so I stopped to help him out, thinking maybe we could team up and it would get me through, but he quickly left me in the dust. I seriously considered stopping at mile 25 and calling it, but Mary was riding today and I didn’t want to look like any more of a weak-ass than I normally do so I kept going.
About 5 miles past the turn in there was another guy with a flat so I stopped once more to help, but after that 15 minutes passed I knew I was done. I shot a text to Mary and let her know I was turning back and was calling it at 40 miles. I felt very defeated after this ride. I train hard and I am seeing no improvement. I have tried biking more, and now biking less, but getting the same results so not sure where else to go. I felt a little better that night at the local triathlon club meeting when they were talking about how windy it was, so that may have accounted for some of the burning and feeling like mud issues I was having. That feeling was quelled quick, though, when one guy said something like “yeah it was pretty windy … I only maintained 23.1 miles per hour”.
Humble bragging at its finest …
And another thing about this burning issue. All I have ever heard growing up running track and playing football, and even now with biking, was that you needed to flush the lactic acid out of your legs by spinning faster, or by quickening cadence. Now I have been reading (I guess I should have known this already) that lactic acid is actually good for you and the burning you feel is not that but a by-product of lactic acid. So if lactic acid is good for you why do you want to “flush it out” of your legs? Maybe it’s just a figure of speech that has failed to be corrected?? If anyone knows the answer please let me know. I need to know this.
And speaking of advice, why is it assumed that just because someone appears in shape or fit (whatever that means) that they automatically know what they are talking about? I cannot tell you how much crap I see these seemingly fit people shove in their mouths. The thing is that most people are within two standard deviations of the mean when it comes to fitness, which is about 95% of the world. Then there are 2.5% on the high side of the curve and another 2.5% on the low side. These are the people who were “born that way”. We all know them, the thin, muscular people who can eat whatever they want and not gain a pound. So if your trainer, or training partner, is one of these genetic outliers, why would they know anything useful to you? Would it not make more sense to listen to someone is was, or is, heavy and what they did to gain fitness then to listen to the advice of someone who has never been overweight? For all the good information Ben Greenfield dispenses, and his recent book “Beyond Training” is outstanding, he really has no idea what it takes to lose weight while training for an Ironman. He’s never had to do it, so it’s basically all theory with him right?
Can you really tell fitness by looking at someone? I used to think so … and I am sure most reading this still think so … but I think it is more of your definition of fitness. What is that definition? Is it BMI? No … because it doesn’t take into account muscle mass. I always use the analogy of Zach Thomas. Zach Thomas was linebacker for the Dolphins in the 90’s. One of the great players in Dolphin history. He was fast, and strong. He stood 5’10 and weigh 250 pounds. I also am 5’10 and weigh 250 pounds. We have the same BMI. Another example we can use is Jillian Michaels. Jillian Michaels, regardless of whether you like her or not, is IN shape. Because she personally felt she was in great shape she decided to do a triathlon. She failed. If you put Jillian and me next to each other there would be no doubt who was in the better shape, yet I have finished every race I have entered.
I am going to stop at this, to try to maintain this blog as a fitness and training focused blog (I tend to get in trouble with people when I start venting about personal issues …. rightfully so probably). I know I am just in a low cycle and I will mentally come through this at some point. The most upsetting thing is that training used to be my saving grace, but training alone is not my thing, and I have lost my training partner this season. I will find other though, eventually. I have already hooked into a great group in St. Pete on Monday and Thursday with Kate, and getting a little weight training in with Kristine Cox. I just need to find swimmers and cyclists that can kick my ass without it feeling like I failed so miserably afterwards. I need progress … visual, tangible progress ….
And don’t even get me started about my weight ….