Friday, December 03, 2010

Fitness & Health

For some reason, a copy of Lava showed up in our mailbox.

Before bed, I was flipping through the pages, searching for content between glossy images of gritty athletes and new you need this now equipment, when I noticed a particular page. It was a picture of Laura Bennett. And it got me to thinking – I wonder how many people reading this magazine know who Laura Bennett is.

Laura is a short course specialist. She’s done a few 70.3s but that doesn’t take away from the fact that her reputation was built on short course speed. More importantly, Laura Bennett hasn’t done an Ironman. And while this magazine covered the sport of triathlon, off the pages oozed Ironman. The forums, the blogs, everything in our sport seems to ooze Ironman. And it makes me wonder: in our sport, does that make Laura Bennett a nobody?

I look at some of the athletes in our sport – from pros to age groupers – and think we’re doing a lot - half, full Ironmans, several a year. It’s a relatively “new” phenomenon, and like many new things, the benefits or consequences are still not understood. Is there research being done on this? I’m not sure. But if I was an exercise physiology student, my wheels would be turning. You see, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about fitness and health. After being in the sport for over a decade as an athlete, a coach, I’ve concluded that while many of us are fit, very few of us are healthy.

And I think Ironman has a lot to do with that.

I turn the page. More pictures of athletes who have done Ironman. Pros who are now doing several of them per year. In fact, the new Kona qualification standards demand that pros do more than one Ironman to gather the points that they need. Good for Ironman. But, is it good for the athlete? How many of these events can one do before it interferes with health?

True, there are outliers in the sport, those that seem to have superhuman adaptability to pile on the miles in training and racing without much disruption to their performance or, perhaps, health. I remember reading something about Dean Karnazes, the ultramarathon man, in support of what we’ve suspected all along. He’s not like the rest of us. His blood did not show the usual suppressive markers that one would expect after doing marathon upon marathon. I suspect there are triathletes who would display the same. Knowing this, while we may be impressed by their durability and performance, should we really be inspired to do the same?

More thought on this comes after the recent coverage of Ultraman, an event of truly epic proportions that needs no other explanation than the statement that it finishes with … a double marathon. Pictures of athletes on crutches, on stretchers afterwards. Yikes. Is this good for us? Is this something we should do? And, more importantly, in ten years, where will these athletes be. Is someone studying their endocrine systems? How will this event impact their health?

I know what you’re thinking: how can someone who can “race” for hours on end be unhealthy? This begs a discussion, first, of what health truly is. While there are many athletes who are fit enough to do an event, this is no guarantee of their health. Fit is being capable of doing something. Health is much more dynamic.

The story almost writes itself – too much training or too little recovery depletes the body and causes systemic imbalance – hormonally, physiologically, emotionally, psychosocially. The end result: someone who is fit but unhealthy. In my own journey in the sport, I’ve come full circle to realize that there are times when I crossed the line into too much with too little recovery and paid the price with my health. Eventually, you run out of health currency. Pushed enough to the edge, and at times over it, you exhaust your health resources.

And health resources are not replenished quickly.

There’s a lot of buzz right now in the sport about metabolic health. You don’t need to have a degree in physiology to understand what is going on. Lew Kidder once told me that training is not rocket science. You apply a little stress, then you back off. Then you apply a little more stress and back off again. In doing so, you figure out just how much stress it takes to achieve performance. The key is balancing that with recovery. That balance is connected to metabolic health.

Yet what I’ve seen is that many athletes do not fully understand the balance. Or, they are stuck in a pattern of ignoring their body (whether it be the feeling of hunger, fatigue, their intuition) so that they cannot achieve balance. Their body gives them a message. They stopped listening. The balance becomes…upset.

Women seem particularly prone to this. Combine a history of disordered eating (which is not the same as an eating disorder; I argue that to some extent most women have disordered eating for a variety of cultural, psychological and later physiological reasons) and an extreme sport (which the half or full Ironman is) and you get a woman who is at risk for becoming metabolically unhealthy which often manifests itself through chronic inflammation (acne, allergies, asthma), thyroid problems, injury or pain (especially in the foot and knee), frequent illness, irregular menses, weight loss/gain or underperforming not otherwise explained.

I, myself, had all the signs of poor metabolic health. This is not a confessional, rather it’s a true learn from my mistakes story. I, like many others, ignored the signs of poor health. I didn’t realize to what extent until a long while later when I looked back and thought to myself – was I deaf? Blind? Hindsight has clarity, though, that we cannot judge ourselves against when in the actual moment. Combined the signs were clear – I was fit but not healthy. In fact, in my early thirties, my health had never been worse.

My skin was a mess. I developed asthma that required two pills and two inhalers – daily. Each season, my allergies got worse. For over two years, my foot had a pain in it that no doctor could diagnose and no treatment could fix. I had developed PMS that got more painful every month. I was always cold. I craved sugar or coffee. I seemed to get four major upper respiratory infections each year no matter how much medicine I took. I was irritable – a lot. I had been to dermatologists, allergists, gynecologists, nutritionists, had my blood tested, etc etc….what was going on here? I thought I was healthy? I do all of this exercise, why do I feel like a sick old person?

Therein lies the problem. I had done too much with too little recovery for too long. While I was fit, I was so unhealthy from a combination of life stresses (including but not limited to training) and poor recovery that all of my fitness was going to waste. Over time, it became the inability to perform. Nothing I did was going to fix me except to stop doing. Or, to rest.

Rest. There it is – that dirty little word. As a coach, my job is often to tell athletes what not to do. Trust me, rest is a tough sell.

I find myself now much healthier now for a lot of reasons. I got some deep rest. I spent the last year training aerobically. It’s no surprise that anaerobic training – the short, hard, give ‘em what they want – training that is sold as so sexy and time effective is indeed effective. But it comes at a cost. Done too frequently, done at the wrong time, it throws off the balance of hormones. And applied day after day, it becomes too much stress, not enough recovery.

Which is really what this is all about – too much stress, not enough recovery.

Keep in mind, it’s not just training that is stress. How often do I hear, but I love to workout, it helps me work off stress. I know, it does for me too. But the problem is training for these long course events is not working out. It’s far beyond 45 minutes on the stairmaster or a step aerobics class. Our training can become stress. And on top of that we have work, family, relationship, real world stress. The body does not compartmentalize stress. It doesn’t file away the fight you had with your spouse before you go swimming. It’s all connected. Too much stress and not enough recovery is an equation out of balance.

Finding balance. How do we do that? First, you start off by committing to work at your own health. This comes before even following a smart training plan. Proper nutrition, adequate rest, emotional maturity, supportive relationships and perspective. And when you have all of those, and you add a smart training plan, you get fitness and health which sets you up for performance. You cannot have performance without health or without fitness. Many athletes have the fitness. Very have the health.

I wonder if Ironman is partially to blame for this. Of course exercise makes us healthy. In moderation. But Ironman isn’t moderation, is it.
Moderation needs to have a place in Ironman. I believe it can be done. Whether it’s doing only one a year or skipping a year before doing another one, making sure you're optimally healthy before you begin training for one, coaches teaching athletes how to recover (and not just train), doing the least amount of training that will yield the best result, monitoring your body/blood for markers that you are crossing the line and – above all – learning to listen to your body again. If there is a message (pain, fatigue, illness, hunger), loud and clear, stop ignoring it. Five words that will always get you in trouble in sport: maybe it will go away.

Laura Bennett has longevity in sport. She’s been around. She’s been consistent. She hasn’t done an Ironman and maybe the jokes on me – maybe she’ll do one next year. Maybe a lot of pros do this because they realize if they’re going to make a living in the sport, they have to go where the money is. It’s where the media is, the money is and where I see the most growth in our sport. As a coach, that’s good for my business. Doing an Ironman? I can help! But as my business, this also scares me. Too much Ironman, especially too soon, too many year after year – all of this compromises longevity. It compromises health. Initially it means more athletes in the sport but quicker exits. How much turnover can occur before the sport is tapped out?

My business is keeping athletes healthy. The challenge is getting athletes to the start line fit but also healthy. Any coach knows that writing workouts is the easy part. Weaving those workouts into athlete’s daily life to help them achieve balance and health – that is the hard part. All athletes know that the training is important. Less believe that recovery is even more important if you want to integrate that training. It doesn’t make sense. How can work + work = less? It’s an equation you need only get out of balance once before you truly understand. Work + rest = more. Simple as that.

From my own experience, I’ve learned that you cannot accomplish anything without health. Well, you can fake it, but not for long. At some point, you run out. As I sit here trying to decide my own competitive goals for 2011, I think a lot about health, about longevity. And determining how to maintain the balance. It’s a discussion in your head that is worth your time. There are big things I want to accomplish but in the bigger picture, I want to be sustainable. I want to stretch out what time and energy I might have left to be competitive over as many years as possible. As you think through your 2011 season, think first about your health, how to maintain (or improve) it and then decide how you’ll build your fitness for where you want to go.

Why am I writing this? I’ve thought about that too. It’s far less entertaining than stories about my baby or other senseless drivel from my life (though I think that drivel does have a place in a blog). Maybe this post will make you think, make some changes and then perform better. Often performance improvement is not about working harder, it’s about working smarter. Squeezing that extra little something from what you’re already doing without changing your training. The secret is out: the training doesn’t matter much. It’s what you do in the spaces between the training that will propel you forward or dig yourself in a hole. What to fill those spaces with? It might be sleeping more, eating better, practicing relaxation – all of those little things that will add up to bigger recovery. Which, in turns, leads to better health and improved fitness.

And isn’t that what we’re all looking for?

37 comments:

Angela and David said...

I really enjoyed reading this. It's something I've been thinking about and researching a lot on my own - especially as I deal with my own issues. Me personally, I don't think IM is healthy for me. At least not with all the other elements in my life right now. Maybe one day it will again be healthy for me, but I think that day is a few years down the road.

Jennifer said...

Thank you. Posts like this are why I started reading your blog. This is well written, thought provoking, and needed. There are plenty of other blogs I could go for entertaining drivel. Not that it's not fun to read about your life, but this is the juicy stuff... this is what elevates respect for your coaching capabilities.

Keith said...

Another great post, one that hits home to where I am these days. It took 3 years to go from slug to ironman, and I wonder what all really happened inside me. Now I'm struggling with some minor injuries/coditions, and I'm happy I don't have anything on the race agenda. I've been struggling with the balance between fitness and health - how much cardio/core strength is enough? How much is too much?

cherelli said...

This makes for an excellent read, thanks. Like Angela, it's something I think about, particularly after doing sport since I was a young child, and comparing my Mum's very basic activity lifestyle to mine as I try to have children. She - and all other women in my family - have been super fertile well into their 30s and 40s...my sister and I - both very much into sports...well, not so fertile. Could be just luck but a part of me wonders how much hormones do get pushed around by intense or prolonged exercise....I'd love to see a study done too. Again, thanks! I look forward to seeing what your goals become next year :)

Laura Wheatley said...

excellent post, and some food for thought. Worth looking into...

cheryl said...

This is a timely post for me. I have been unhealthy for over a year, and I told someone the other day I will give up training hard and racing to become healthy so I can be active and healthy for the rest of my life. So I think I am on the road to being healthy again, not quite there, and I am active and exercising (I won't call it working out), and I want to be able to be active and healthy for the next 40 years. I am willing to give up the training and racing for my long term health. It was good to read this and reaffirm that my thinking is not completely flawed. Maybe I will train and race again someday, but it won't be the end of my world if I don't.

Meredith said...

Dave and I were talking about this the other day in regard to the pro IM triathletes versus pro marathon runners. Pro marathon runners build their season to one or two marathons a year. And they go out and do well in 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, etc. Although I don't agree with all of IMs series (5150, halfs, etc.) the pros should get more into these and build their season. I think marathons and IMs are flashy and that's what gets the attention. And for all of us who want to be epic, we choose those events. You say you enjoy the half marathon, people will ask you why you don't do the marathon? But doing the marathon year in and year out or IM year in and year out will get you nowhere in your development and speed as an athlete.

Molly said...

So if I never seem to get sick, am I not working hard enough?

I kid, I kid...really though, people don't focus enough on this aspect of their overal training and health. I'm going to pass it on to everyone I know :-)

Running and living said...

I absolutely love this post, and all your post actually. You think and write very well:)
I think we live in a society where more is always better. I read lots of blogs and I have seen a lot of what you mentioned - lots of sickness and eventual unhappiness with athletes who do ironman races, or lots of racing in general. You talked a lot about the physiological changes associated with to much training and too little rest. There are also psychological changes - I think Salazar is a well known example of how you can mess up your neuroendocrine system. It's a thin line because, like you said, we feel better when we exercise, but the relationship is linear only up to a point...This post should be published in Lava (yes, I got that too, out of nowhere) or Triathlete magazine. People don't like to talk about this, don't like to think about it. Sometimes we runners/triathletes have that 16 year old mentality of being invincible...

Suzanne said...

Very interesting post. I now understand why I can't get my act together training wise. I went from a half IM and IM athelete who worked full time to being a mom who works full time. Training took a 3rd place behind my family and my job. And as my family and my job became more stressful (death in the family and a promotion) I couldn't handle the added stress of training, even though I love to train. I didn't understand why I couldn't make room for something that I enjoy so much. But now I understand the physical stress of training added to the mental stress I had from priorities #1 and 2 were just too much. So I took a year off. And now I'm starting back. But until life changes, it's short course only. Because that's all I can handle right now.
Thank you for your post, because now I understand what I've been feeling...

Dave said...

You are a wise one Liz. Although consider you blog off limits for the Mrs now. Rest is good, but if she had her way every week would be rest week and every day a rest day for me.

All joking aside, I was talking to a few of my tri buddies this week and one of them said that if she had all the money in the world she would work with you. I told her she is in luck, because it doesn't take that, and its worth it.

See post above if you need any further proof.

Bob Mitera said...

Well said Liz.

Rest is key. If you don't mind, I'll add to it on my blog.

MandyB said...

Great post, Liz. Right on the money. I forwarded the link on to a few friends. It's perfectly timed in my world - I'm stepping away from Ironman for a bit for health (in all senses of the word). When I realized I was getting chafed on what I perceived as the change in people racing, then didn't feel a single spark crossing the finish line, I knew it was time for a break.

You show incredible clarity - and for a brand new Momma - I'm impressed! A good friend just gave birth 6 weeks ago and can't put together a sentence yet!

Iron Krista, "The Dog Mom" said...

GREAT read. Especially as I sit here with a (cough) sore knee and an (cough) ongoing sore foot...

Hmmmm

Ulyana said...

Liz,

That's a great post. I just read about a lady, an ultra-marathoner, who had a major surgery on her ankle joint around her fortieth birthday (not old, but no spring chicken when it comes to recovering from surgery). 6 months after the surgery she participated in a 30K, 7 months after - 50K, 10 months after - 100K, and then a year after - another 100K. She posted her story on a healthboard. Everyone was in awe, expressing deep feelings of respect and admiration, calling her courageous and inspiring. Now, in one her latest posts, it's clear the pain in the ankle is back.

Is the sport really worth it? And why give such wrongful inspiration? Did we forget about our health?

From experience, health was the last thing on my mind when I did marathons. Your post is a good reminder.

Golden Girl said...

I don't want to post a sob story. But your kick*ss blog posting and this message needs to be spread. Overtraining Syndrome is real and dangerous. The likelihood of pushing too far with all this Ironman hysteria, an athlete's mentality of "no pain, no gain", and a sport in which it's never enough (training, new equipment, races to do, blah blah blah) makes it more and more of a reality.

My coach drilled me into such a deep hole, it's taken over 2 years to be able to reasonably function. I went through a total immune system and HPA axis shut down (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal). Coach kept telling me it was "normal" to be that exhausted for IM training. I thought he was right... I just needed to toughen up. However, I was reporting to him all the signs and symptoms of Overtraining Syndrome, Stage 1.... then Stage 2... and finally the "you're screwed stage" 3. Game over.

I'll never be able to be the athlete I was once. Now a days, even walks can feel too much. Perhaps, I've ruined my system for good. But although my bike has dust on it, I don't care anymore. There are so many other things out there in life: relationships, personal growth, traveling, enjoying the little things, finding achievement in making the world a better place. I hope to be able to do a sprint triathlon or a 5k someday but until then, I've learned how to enjoy my health a hell of a lot more!!

mtanner said...

and you once again prove to be "the Very Best" writer, coach, voice OUT THERE! kudos to this post!

Jennifer Harrison said...

This is a great post, for sure! I hear you - the rest is a huge missing component of triathlete's training plan. They push and push and hurt and don't sleep and eat like crap (or usually not enough) and it creates this overwhelming imbalance that if THEY only listened to the warnings signals - they would have never built the huge hole.

Honestly, I think people stop thinking for themselves. They rely on feedback from others: Validation that they are doing ALL they can and should be doing to meet their goals (IM stuff...) when all they need to do is just step back- block out all the white noise and LISTEN to their bodies and mind.

Those are the athletes that have a long career in this sport.

Jason said...

Thank you for another amazingly insightful post. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to work with and learn from you as I travel down my own path to health and fitness. Yay coach!!
I really enjoyed this article not because I think I overtrain (which would be impossible since you are writing the plan!) but because I often feel as though I fall into the category of the "doesn't work hard enough" triathlete." I really enjoy training and racing and being fit, but like everyone else triathlon is only one aspect of my life. As you noted, we all have multiple priorities such as family, friends and career that we need to dedicate time to in order to maintain a broader health and life balance. For me personally, that means that there are times when I have to make tradeoffs and training cannot always be # 1 on a daily basis. That usually means that I will ocassionally skip workouts if I have an overly stressful day at work, if I am getting buried with family obligations or when I just can't get my focus in the right place for a workout. Intellectually I understand that priorities have to shift from time to time and that fitness and health need to be viewed as a lifelong endeavor, but my week over week inconsistency as compared to the industry chatter of "more is better" still makes me feel as though I am somehow not doing enough as an athlete and am letting myself (or my coach) down. However after reading your post, I feel that those daily tradeoffs are what I have to do to maintain my long term health, even if it may come at the expense of achieving my absolute best possible athletic performance in a given race. I will certainly still strive to support the plan as I also realize that it is specifically designed to help me achieve my stated goals, but I also know that if I miss a workout from time to time, the wheels aren't going to fall off the fitness bus and that my overall health will thank me later!

beardies3 said...

Your blog contains the best information and you have a knack of explaining it so clearly. Thanks Liz. Where were you when I was young and a runner?

ali said...

This is great! You can do ironman and be safe with the right combination. More people need good coaches!

Mary IronMatron said...

Unfortunately, so many of us need to learn this the hard way! :)
A long time I wrote a post on why mommies kick ass...
A big reason mommies kick ass is because they were forced to rest-really rest--for a long, long time.
I respect you very much, Liz. You are a super smart insightful person and a great writer.

Happy Feet 26.2 said...

Thanks for the blog. This is great information for many of us. While I am very conscious of hard days and easy days, this fall I have really upped my mileage. I also take a break after my marathons, but this is great advice and a reminder that rest is just as important to our training as the hard days. Thanks YOu!

Alicia Parr said...

Yes. Great post. Pregnancy is a gift in so many ways.

Part of the reason (a small part) I got preggers when I did was so that I could "deserve" the break I so sorely needed. Now, with expanded priorities of parenthood, it's easier to subjugate training to a lower priority. And a lower time suck. This does wonders for avoiding the overtrained state and buoys the sustainability of the athletic lifestyle.

Remember my post on the Importance of Hunger? One of the things I was trying to impart relates to "what you do in the spaces between training". It's not just about recovery activities, although that's vital. It's building up that psychoemotional account that I like to refer to as "fight" so that you can withdraw on the big days. Just like a savings account, if you go withdrawing from the account to just make it through your typical training sessions, whether it's due to insufficient recovery or over-emphasis on C event performance, there won't be much left when you really need it.

Hopefully several people who read this will ask themselves how important longevity in sport is to them and whether they are doing what it takes to ensure that happens.

misszippy said...

This is a great post! Thank you for writing it. I agree wholeheartedly. I did an Ironman, years ago, and I can say I am one of the few who isn't dying to go back and do it again. One big reason? I have kids now (didn't then) and the combination of all those factors is TOO much for me. Maybe not for others. But you do have to take everything in life into consideration before embarking on these big journeys. I'm also a coach, and I agree, keeping athletes in check and getting them to believe in rest is the hardest part of the whole thing. Where does all this come from?

Jennifer said...

Great post! I really enjoyed reading it and began to see a bit of myself in your writings. You have reminded me to take a step back and really asses my health and not just my fitness. Thanks!

GoBigGreen said...

Thanks Liz for sharing this. I already talked to JH about it, since I am feeling 100% but have a little niggle that wont quite let me run all out. Hmm...I say. Perhaps this is holding me back for a reason:) And then there was peace in the house.
Happy Snowfall! Sorry we sent it:)

Laura said...

Thank you for a very timely post. I've been in a mental struggle with myself for a while now because I have not done a HIM or IM and have at times felt like a slacker or almost guilty for calling myself a triathlete when all I've done are sprint and olympic tris. I was just sitting here contemplating signing up for a spring HIM just to get the monkey off my back. But the truth is I don't really WANT to do one right now - and my life is stressful enough without that. I've always wanted training and races to ADD to my life and be something enjoyable, and I feel a HIM or IM would be a burden, both physically and psychologically (and I don't even have kids yet!). Thanks for reminding me that my self-worth is not determined by the triathlon distance I complete. Thanks also for the connection to health - that's something I've been well aware of myself, but I see too many other triathlete friends ignore their health for the sake of the all-consuming IM goal.

athletic chick said...

Thank you so much for this post! I keep pushing myself as a triathlete, but as I write this I'm battling continual tiredness, ongoing hip pain from an irritated IT band, and nagging hunger. Your message hit home, and I am going to practice RESTING more. Starting with today.

C. P. said...

New to your blog... thanks for the post. I've been hovering around the endurance world for nearly 30 years and have often wondered if any of this is actually good for me. While training and racing feed the addiction, am I abusing my body and achieving long-lasting, negative results? Am I fit but unhealthy?

A few years ago, I read this piece, which really got me thinking. While it didn't change my path, it always ruminates in the back of my mind... especially during the really long training/racing days.

http://www.slowtwitch.com/Features/Mark_Sisson_says_training_is_no_guarantee_of_health._4.html

harpster13 said...

Great post Liz. After working with you for almost a year I think the most valuable thing I've taken away is learning how to rest or "rest hard" as you say. It's interesting though because I feel like within the realm of endurance sports publications I rarely see articles or readings that encourage or stress the importance on resting. Instead I feel like we are all being encouraged to do more races that are longer and harder than the one we did before.

Thanks Liz for a great post.

fitterreally said...

Stumbled onto your blog - great great post. This is what newbies should be told in their baby stages - I felt so stressed from training when I started yet I knew I was getting fitter! I've learnt to aim for WHOLISTIC health and fitness these days vs. isolating one component by its own. Keep up the fantastic posts!

Amanda - RunToTheFinish said...

this is a really great post. I've truly been thinking that my body is telling me 8 years of marathons sans any break might be starting to wear on me...but I just didn't want to listen!

I need to figure out the breaks without feeling the loss of fitness.

The Hungry Runner Girl said...

WOW!! Amazing posts. I love reading blogs that make me think about my training and where I need to improve and in this case figuring out how much is too much! Thank you!

jim said...

Liz,
AWESOME! I remember you looking across the table at me when I told you my race schedule, distances, and goals. You actually told me that I was fit, but not much more, and that I was none to wise for jumping into ultras with little experience. Something about racing every other weekend too....whatever that was, I didn't listen. If only people could have seen the last 8 miles of the PCT 50. I actually took a whole week off after Silverman at Sea (because of your blog) and have really taken it easy since then. I have a brand new approach to training, thanks to you and a few others. There is no long race in sight, in fact no race, until September. And, my training will not consist of long long days and weeks.

Tara said...

OMG Liz, best post ever. I'm passing this one on.

TriEVIElon said...

This is such a powerful blog! I agree with the health first, fitness next theory. We have a small tri club here in Annapolis and if you aren't doing Ironman you just don't rank. It's like a boast fest every time there is an event. I finally just stopped hanging out with those people.

For me, Ironman is not a good choice. I ran one marathon and between the training and the actual race, it took me the better part of a winter to fully recover. Half Iron I can manage but only one. I can't imagine a marathon after 112 miles of biking. That sort of distance is just not for me and I'm ok with it. However, most everyone else isn't. They look at me with a mix of pity and disbelief like "Oh you must just be lazy."

I am not LAZY, I just know what's good for me. My body can't take that sort of abuse. But if you are in the minority that chooses health and balance over fitness then at least in my neck of the woods you are scorned.

I've actually thought about dropping out of triathlon. Besides the astronomical entry fees, the pressure to do more and more and more is intense.

I have a sensible race schedule for 2011. One Half Iron after a full summer of being able to take my time and build up.

When exercise becomes another source of stress it IS stress. You are right, your body doesn't differentiate. I am so glad you wrote this and put it out there for folks to ponder.

Who knows, maybe you'll start a new movement.