When planning my 2013 season, never did I factor in the things that actually happened. As a control freak (admit it, we all are!) I had planned to control the controllables and do whatever it took to achieve my goal of bettering myself at the world champ finals. However, sometimes life serves you a cheeky swerve ball and we lose that all important control and sense of what we’re doing! Never have I questioned myself and my commitment more.
Enjoying some time at Herne Hill Velodrome.
If you read my previous blog in June, you’ll know that I’ve recently suffered from a viral illness called shingles, Aka the bringer of overwhelming fatigue and doom! The actual physical symptoms of shingles didn’t bother me too much but the general feeling of fatigue has rendered me bored of my ongoing whining! God knows what it’s done to my friends and family, they are the true heroes for putting up with my poor banter, wallowing in self pity and my lack of usual vigor!
Initially there were a few weeks of what felt like a grieving process: emotional, irrational, vulnerable and frustrated probably covers it! I felt like I’d let myself, my friends, coaches and family down. I was supposed to be strong and the fact was, I was broken – both mentally and physically! Sounds dramatic but it really made me question why I’d committed myself so much to a process that had essentially not gone to plan. But that’s part of life right? If we only invested time, love and effort into things that were guaranteed we’d never move forward or do anything remotely exciting! I believe that life is about learning and reflecting: it’s important to be honest with ourselves at times and make changes even if they’re hard.
So, following the initial period of negative feelings, it was time to pick myself up and apply a constructive plan to move forwards. The problem with this is that there’s very little useful information in terms of how quickly you should return to sport and exercise and how you can monitor your levels of fatigue to ensure you don’t set yourself back. Thankfully, I’ve got some good medical friends who have helped to keep me on the straight and narrow and allowed me to figure out the following…
Rest and recovery is definitely the most important part of training and you have to allow yourself time to switch off both mentally and physically. I pride myself with a hard work ethic, which I apply in all aspects of my life. I’m positive, enthusiastic and I love being busy! I worked out that on average, I allow myself approximately 3-4 hours a week of doing nothing. Which I’ve been strictly told is NOT enough. In order for our bodies to absorb the stresses and strains of training we have to allow it to switch off properly, which is something that I wasn’t allowing myself to do.
Support comes in all shapes and sizes and we should always accept it if it’s offered. As a hugely independent person I struggle with this concept. I don’t like being fussed over and I don’t like not being in control. I’ve learnt that, no matter how much of a muppet we are to our true friends and family, they will always be there for us. Sometimes just to listen, sometimes to offer guidance and sometimes to give us a kick up the backside! And this is something I’m grateful for. I have a team of people in my life who are there to deliver the good and bad news and support the ongoing dream when I’ve been filled with self doubt and confusion. Thank you guys, you all have more patience than you realise.
We need to love what we do in order to keep going. I think I did lose the love for triathlon at one point – I questioned why I dedicated so much effort into it but it’s taken the bad for me to realise that I do love this silly damn sport! Being in Turkey for the European Champs and not being able to race was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. On race morning when the girls wear prepping themselves for the pain I wanted sooooo much to be part of it and it made me want to cry when Hannah Johnston (fellow triathlete) shouted on the last lap of her run “I’m doing this for you Fiddy”. It’s the people involved in the support that help us to remember the love sometimes.
With just 3 weeks to go before the AG World Champs I’m pleased to say that I think I’ve finally recovered from the dreaded shingles and I’m back into a proper block of hard training. I’m certainly not quite in the shape I’d liked to have been in but I think that I’ve learnt some hard, valuable lessons which will hopefully make me a better athlete in the future. I’m just grateful that I can proudly line up in London with my fellow team members and battle it out. In the meantime this is what I’ll be doing differently:
1) I’ll be training smarter not harder.
2) I’ll be resting as hard as I train and allowing myself time to switch off.
3) I’ll be continuing with yoga! Probably the most surprising thing, but I’m a convert. It’s an amazing balance of working your core and settling your mind!
4) I’ll be listening and looking out for those warning signs. As triathletes we’re always tired but ongoing fatigue = trouble!
5) I’ll be taking and enjoying a full 3 weeks rest at the end of season. Time to mentally and physically recharge.
6) Celebrating and enjoying the small successes along the way. As a competitive person I’m always striving for the end goal. I’ve realised it takes the fun out of it if we don’t allow ourselves little celebrations along the way.
Happy training and racing!