It's breakfast time and I’m sitting here reading my morning news. Honestly, most of the time I breeze through other blogs and then head over to Perez Hilton. I’m a glutton for celebrity smut. I have no shame. But in more exciting news in BlogLand this morning I see that Wee has pulled herself away from death’s door. Ness is learning to distinguish between pain. Candace fears her legs are falling off. Rachel is walking around her house in a HazMat suit. And Marit is throwing things across her living room.
And now, everyone…..BREATHE!
I know that’s easier said than done and what the hell do I know anyways. I, after all, was also knocking on death’s door a week ago, I was the one that gave Ness the workouts that caused pain and Marit crashed into none other than….me. I’m no better off than anyone else but I have learned in these past few weeks that you are nothing if don’t remember to breathe.
Breathe comes to me from one of my athletes. He is a complete spaz and he knows it. He told me so. Each of his e-mails is closed with “breathe”. I seriously think he needs to remind himself to breathe throughout the day. He called me the other day, totally random, just to tell me he was fitted on the brand new Cervelo Soloist and said “Liz, it’s a reaaaaaaaly nice bike.” That’s all he wanted to tell me and then a few seconds later he ended the call.
So it has become a mantra for me recently. I sat around last week wondering if I would ever feel good again. I was sick in many ways! I was overtrained and had done nothing but read the worst about overtraining. Damn the internet; its tales, reports, stories and information overload. I talked with my doctor who was convinced my body’s defenses in the form of fatigue, illness, night sweats and other fun things was its way of protecting itself before I killed it. Gee thanks. And I had .5 percent desire to actually do anything swim, bike or run again. The .5 only because I realized at some point I would have to burn off all the peanut butter cups.
To say the least, I was pissed! It really hit me on Saturday. By 10 am I had made a list of 5 people I wanted to slap. Myself included. I had done all of this great training and where did it get me? In a hole. Would I be able to train again? Who knows! Overtraining could take weeks to dissolve – if ever. I thought about athletes I knew who ended up washed up and 15 pounds heavier after bouts with overtraining and fatigue. I didn’t want that to be me! Plus I love to race. Would I be able to race again? And if so, when? Who knows! I had plane tickets, visions in my head – all on hold. In fact, I have a race next week and still don’t know if I’ll be there. When was the last time a week out you weren’t sure you would show up at a half Ironman?
So Saturday I spent the morning talking with my mom which is not really good if you are angry because women have a way of commiserating, plotting and stirring things up even worse together. And a way of bringing out tears. After those dried up, it was back to rage. I was ready to throw something but seeing that we were in a public place and I was holding a coffee cup, I just ended up shopping and spending money instead. It’s not as effective but it felt nearly as good.
Here I was with all of these physical not so good feelings which I had to accept but it was the turbulent emotions were tearing me up with nowhere to displace. Normally I would just swim, bike or run myself out of emotion. Feeling angry? Beat myself up on the bike. Need to relax? Swim it out in the pool. Escape for awhile from the annoyance of myself? Run on the path. But I couldn’t swim, bike or run. There was nowhere to hide. I had to face myself.
It got me to thinking to why we all do this in the first place. And what would happen if we had to stop. I realized that I would have to actually learn to accept things, deal with my emotions and make peace with myself. I couldn’t pretend I was better just because I was feeling an endorphin rush or act like the problems were solved because I sorted them out in my head on a run. I couldn’t distract from the issues by counting my strokes on the swim. I had to just sit there, deal with it idle and by myself.
And I had to find other ways. Other ways to fill my time and fill myself up. Other ways to feel good about myself. That’s probably a good thing because we can’t all do this forever. And we can’t keep doing it if it means risking our health. I realized I was at my body’s whim – it would be ready to train again when it was ready. And I really had nothing to do with that. All I could do for it was to step back, relax and breathe.
A few days later, I felt closer to normal again. But still not 100 percent. Maybe this breathing thing works, sort of. And rather than jump back on my bike and pedal into the wind I said – maybe I should wait. So I did. And yesterday after a great but short swim rather than joining Chris on the bike I said – maybe I should just count my blessings with the swim and leave it at that. So I did. Slow it down, take it day by day and….breathe.
I know this is our little world that we all play in together. We love our sport and have fun talking about it in BlogLand. But there is always the chance that something will happen that separates you from sport. Or anything that you enjoy. It’s easy to spiral yourself into worrying about when you will return or how long until you feel better. Yet in the past few weeks I found that when you feel yourself fighting against the current of what is happening in sport or life, it’s really best just to turn around. To quit fighting so hard against it, instead to simply relax and go with the flow. And you might just find you get where you want to go faster. Because no matter how fast you swim your 100’s, I've learned it’s really hard to outswim the current of things you cannot control.