Monday, July 29, 2013

Week #30: Emotional Overtraining

The blessing and the curse of a weekly blogging commitment is figuring out how to put a positive spin on an otherwise crappy week. In past years, I would have just skipped over the crappy parts, but this year I'm putting them out there, as honestly as possible, but still trying do something useful with them. So when trying to figure out how to best say, "I spent last week utterly exhausted and suffering from full-on cray cray anxiety levels", I have to think of the how, why, and what I learned from it. Hopefully, when that's over, I will be be more at peace, someone else might feel better about their own cray cray anxiety levels, and/or the judgy faces of the world can feel all superior looking down at my moment of trainwreckiness.

So this is my conclusion. It is particularly hard to admit that I broke down physically and emotionally after just celebrating a period of overcoming fun-but-stressful challenges that in years past I would have been too neurotic to handle. I then realized that, yes, this is still a training blog that is still about bikes, but the focus of my training this year has been emotional training rather than physical. Although I never consciously laid out a season training plan with phases and micro cycles and whatnot, that is essentially what I have been doing throughout the year. Laying a good base in the winter, choosing target "A race" life events that aren't necessarily races, and working through cycles of intentional stress and recovery have all played into my "training plan" this year much more than performing specific workouts on a given day or time of year.

Um, I washed some bikes at least.
The last month just turned out to be a tougher "training cycle" than was on the season plan. There was tons of good stress in the form of a new relationship, but also unplanned bad stress in the form of my grandma's death and subsequent trip to Oklahoma. Unfortunately, stress is still stress and my refusal to give up doing things that I wanted to do even though I was tired from doing things I didn't want to do got me to into trouble. I came into this "recovery week" having accomplished so much, but also pushed beyond my capacity and ended up tired, sick and anxious, just like someone trying to mash out a 20-hour training week at the end of a hard training cycle.

To be honest, I was really quite scared of how I was feeling, because I hadn't been so irritable or withdrawn in months. I knew this was a bad sign, and like an overtrained athlete, knew that, while rest was important, simply sitting on my ass literally and figuratively would not necessarily pull me out of the hole. I did rest a lot, taking Monday-Friday off of training completely. By the end of the week I knew that there was no way that I could sanely make it through the weekend's 6 hour race, so I pulled the plug on that, as well as any other activity or obligation that wasn't absolutely essential. With some of that stress relieved, I knew that spending the weekend in my pajamas would be putting myself at risk for depression, so I started working on my recovery strategy for doing things that would help me feel better with minimal stress.

The things that I determined to be most important were to get enough sleep, reestablish contact with friends who I hadn't seen in a while, and reestablish a minimal level of physical activity as I was past the point where full-time rest would continue to help. The sleep was pretty easy, since I had survived the workweek and made sure I didn't have to get up too early for anything on the weekend. 

Seeing friends was important because I'll admit that the last few weeks I've started to feel like "that girl" who ditches her friends when she meets a new guy. Establishing a relationship with someone who lives nine hours away is tricky, and I'll admit to making it my top priority lately. However, I now feel that we have made it through the "holeshot" phase of the relationship and can now confidently settle into a sustained pace, holding on through the straights and making the most of the corners. Of course, Frank doesn't have tubular wheels so he can't take full advantage of the corners, but perhaps it's better to have someone whose abilities compliment mine instead of matching them. Anyway, I devoted Saturday to time with my Wheel(wo)men Sarah and Janelle, as well as honorary Wheel(wo)man Liz. A leisurely lunch followed by a leisurely mountain bike ride really hit the spot.

Sunday I did mostly rest, but I made getting back in the gym a priority, as I think that is where I get the most advantage physically. Hopefully, this week I can keep that up and get back to doing intervals in preparation for 'cross season.

All in all, I'm still not fully recovered from my emotional overtraining, but I definitely feel a lot better. I also feel proud of myself for recognizing the problem and using more effective coping strategies than the pajamas and ice cream that I would have used in the past. So, even though a few days ago I might have been internally freaking out that "I'm going to be tired FOREVER", I now understand that is not the case. I just need to keep focusing on my recovery, and I will eventually be stronger and up for more challenges again as the year progresses.


Merry*Death on a Bike said...

Good for you for taking a well deserved break, and as a fellow cray-cray anxiety freak I understand how paralyzing it can be.

But dating a guy who doesn't ride tubulars?! Crazy!

Lindsay Rodkey said...

Haha, that was a joke because he's just getting into 'cross and I keep insisting that one doesn't *need* tubulars for their first season.