When All Else Fails, Improvise...
I haven't had the best series of race seasons. For a variety of reasons -- posterior tibial issues, stress fractures, sciatica -- I haven't been able to put together a good solid block of training. I've missed more races than I can count, slept through some (willingly), and just been downright unmotivated when it comes to race days.
I've changed my distances. At first, I just assumed that the marathon wasn't for me, so I switched to the half. Then I realized I liked the long slow grind. So I switched to trail running and considered doing an ultra. Then, after some twisted ankle issues on the rough terrain, it was back to the road to attempt to run fast again.
I really just feel as though I twisted in the nether for awhile. During my off time with my stress fracture, I took swimming lessons at the local YMCA (yes, I know, I was 28 and didn't know how to swim) and became addicted to getting better at swimming. Shortly after that, I felt like maybe a triathlon was for me (since of course, the swimming was the hard part, or so I believed!), and started on that course.
Regardless of the path that I took, I would create a schedule for myself of running/swimming/biking/weight training and force myself to stick to it. 430am? Better get up! How many miles do you have on the schedule? What strength training are we doing today? Who cares if you're tired! You have a schedule! Get up and get going!
The inner monologue of my brain is something fierce. I've always struggled with this idea of perfection -- body, life, you name it! -- and the idea that I wasn't following the schedule perfectly or wasn't able to hit my weekly mileage goal because I was tired or--heaven forbid!!--something hurt, bothered me tremendously. Add on to that everyone's favorite feeling of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and I was continuously on a path of self-destruction. No wonder I never made it to the start of a race.
Now, several months removed from my obsessive scheduling, I feel as though I'm starting to see more clearly. As it comes with any business or venture, you give a little piece of yourself to start something new. When I started taking on personal training clients, I was at their mercy, so I allowed myself to schedule during my normal workouts and daily routines. At first I thought it was a sacrifice to the greater good of the business, but now I have realized it was for my own personal greater good. It's taught me that my schedule can bend and flex. Sometimes I might only have time for a short run, but sometimes that is all I needed. I'm still able to fit in my strength training and my fitness goals, but now it's not so rigid. It's allowed me the freedom to choose what I want to do and not be confined to what I have to do.
I haven't exactly chosen a fall/spring/eventual race either. Part of that is my current indecisiveness with racing and having to adopt a schedule again and the other part is the sheer organic pattern that my training has taken me. I want to do a race when the time is right, or when I'm feeling ready and eager to do so, not because I feel that I need to.
What I have been doing, however, are the things that I want to do. I have been bouldering at my local gym (Huge shoutout to Austin Bouldering Project -- you guys are awesome!) and spending my weekends on the Austin Greenbelt. I love the opportunity to get away from the hectic city and into the woods where no one knows you're there. Losing several hours--and lots of sweat--is a serious cathartic release from the workweek.
I'm also trying to be a better and more supportive partner. My boyfriend Tyler (you can follow him here) has been working so hard towards the goal of hitting several big ultras in the fall (Sky Island) and in the spring (Bandera) and I want to be there (and able!) to help crew the races alongside of him. For all that he's given me in the past few years, I feel like it's only fair that I can do the same!
So here's to taking a much needed step back and enjoying a season of organic fitness and health!