Friday, August 13, 2010

Training ALL STOP

Nothing is broken, and I'm not injured. But I will be taking a break from training over the next 10 days or so.

What has happened is a massive amount of cumulative fatigue. At first I thought I was burned out from racing, so I just stopped signing up for races, and trudged my way through the races that I had already paid for (you'll notice a lack of race reports over the past couple of months because of this). This past week is when everything completely fell apart.

On Friday last week, I ran 2.5 miles in to Saguaro East with Ryan, my running partner, and then we turned around and ran back out. So we got the worst of the hills twice. Then on Saturday I did the Lemmon Squeezy ride up to Palisades and was hurting. At first I thought it was the previous day's run. All morning I had comments like "What's wrong with you?" "I never see you on this ride and you were right in front of me the entire time" "I never keep up with you except today". Ugh. Let me tell you that when you are mentally beating up yourself over your performance, it is 10X worse when it comes from 5 different people passing you. I felt like I should crawl into a hole and die instead. Then on Sunday Zac and I went up to Sunrise to ride the downhill trails, and I managed 2 very slow runs down. It was all I could manage to get down the mountain. I took a nap in my Jeep in the parking lot, then we headed home when the mountain closed and Zac had finished his 8 runs down the mountain.

This is when things got really bad. Monday was my rest day, so nothing out of the ordinary there. Tuesday I was insanely tired and never did my planned ride. Wednesday I met Ryan for our morning run, where I was supposed to do 5 speed intervals of 2-3 min each. I manged two of them. The first made me think "There's no way I can do five of these." On the second, I had a horrible pain in my chest (a cramp), I couldn't control my breathing, and my heartrate was insanely high. I told Ryan I wasn't feeling well, and too many red flags had been thrown, so I was just going to run slower and calm down. He was a bit concerned, thinking he was going to have to give me a piggy back ride to get back to the car. But we made it back, and I slowly gutted out the core workout for the week in the gym. Thursday my alarm went off at 5 AM for my ride, and the body said "Oh hell no this is NOT happening." So I went back to bed for another 1.5 hours, but still felt like crap when I got up.

I was a mess and falling apart. So that morning I e-mailed Coach Scott, pouring out my entire mess of a week, and my mental freak out. How was I going to survive the next several weeks of training? If I don't train, I'm not going to survive the XTERRA Worlds race at Maui. If I don't train, I'm going to end up clinging to a kayak in the ocean, walking my bike on every uphill, and walking the entire run course. Was I going to be just a spectator instead of a participant? I was spiraling out of control. I could no longer mentally push through the fatigue. My brain was cashing in the chips on this season and there was no way the body was going to go anywhere. I titled my e-mail "Falling apart this week."

The response I got just about brought me to tears. The first line from Scott was "I know exactly what to do. I have seen this a thousand times in the last 20 years of endurance sports." I was then told I needed a break immediately, and needed to stop everything right now. No swimming, biking, or running, and only walking allowed. I am, quite literally, burnt and trashed. I had to get complete rest and bring the systems back to normal. He said there is overreaching and overtraining, and we are at the overreaching stage but borderline overtrained, and have to get a handle on it right now. But, he said it is not bad and it is part of the training cycle. It's hard to catch ahead of time but we are in a good spot right now.

So first up is no training at all over the weekend. I'm supposed to sleep insane amounts and eat a ton of carbs and everything in sight. No holds barred. Given my fried mental state this is the best plan EVER! I can handle this. Scott has jumped into action, piecing my season back together with the enthusiasm of a cheerleader. The only rule is, I have to follow the instructions. I can't be out training when he says rest or else I'll make it worse. Right now he knows we can get me back online for Maui and salvage the season, but only if I follow the instructions. If you are stuck in a hole and someone throws you a rope, you don't start cutting at the rope. The final words from Scott were, "I'm all over it." This is exactly why having a coach is so valuable. Had I been on my own I'd still be out there trying to train through the fatigue and pain, which would only make everything worse. You get a coach's brains and experience, which keep you grounded when stuff like this happens. Sometimes you can't self-diagnose what is going on.

Needless to say, I won't be able to do the final Easy Peasy Lemmon Squeezy Ride. At first I thought I could if I went really slow, but the more I rest the worse I feel. This ride is supposed to be fun, and I don't want to be a liability to anyone out there. So instead I will be a mobile cheer station and SAG (support and gear) wagon, hauling water for the riders on what will be a very warm day. I'm still going to party at The Cookie Cabin at the end, and since I'm under orders to eat a ton of food you'd better believe I'll be partaking of the pizza and cookies there.

I had heard of overtraining, but not overreaching. I had to Google these terms together to find out what the difference was. This is a whole new type of fatigue I'm feeling. I've noticed in endurance sports there are many different kinds of fatigue. There's the "lack of sleep" fatigue with the hazy headache and all. There's the "I ran too many hills yesterday" fatigue. There's the "Ironman fatigue" that lasts for weeks and weeks. At first you feel like you've been hit by a truck, but weeks later when you try to train you feel this deep muscle fatigue lingering. But this is a brand new one. Right now, the more I rest the worse I feel. I have no energy for doing basic tasks. And when I try to rest I have this jittery feeling, kind of like being amped up on too much caffeine. Yet I am dead tired. And my legs are still sore from Wednesday's run, which is not normal.

No one talks about this stuff on training message boards. Everyone is busy flexing their muscles and showing off what insane training workouts they did over the weekend and proving how awesome they are. Maybe most feel that if they admit they are fatigued, then it's a sign of weakness. Well, I'm here to admit it, because if you go through it you are a normal human.

Anyways, thanks to everyone that has sent me messages and e-mailed their best wishes. I didn't want anyone to think I had seriously injured myself or had snapped my body in half riding my mountain bike (although that would be a cooler story, but would require longer recovery). Over the next 10 days or so, look for me behind a plate of food or under the covers.