Thursday, June 09, 2011

Bring back the balance - when can I start training again?

Okay, so I've got this )(*(&*^*%^& chest infection and I've cancelled my London to Paris bikeride.   Of course my doctor told me not to cycle London to Paris when I saw her on Monday.  Given that I was running a temperature and had creaky lungs there was no surprise there but honestly, in my madness, I was still thinking "maybe?".  But don't worry people, if the doctor hadn't put the kibbosh on my racing plans, friends and family made sure to do so very quickly.  Of course - 5 days after starting my antibiotics I am perking up.  Out of bed, halfway human again.  Still partly thinking that maybe I could have done?  But given that I pant when I climb up the stairs I know, I know.  So I am being prudent (SO boring) and taking 2 weeks off - a whole other 10 days to go! - and getting a proper examination before I slowly go back to exercise (I hope). 

Anyway - that's by the by.  I'm not the only person who's ever had to sit out an event, and it's happened to me before - I'll get over it. But here's what gets my goat.  Many people have said to me, when they found out I was ill, that I was ill because "I do so much exercise".  In their eyes, I think, I wear myself out and "overdo" it.  My initial reaction at these comments is intense irritation and anger and I throw it back at them - I like exercising, I like training and anyway - I know a large amount of people (most of you) who train harder than I do and dedicate more of your lives to your sport than I do.  But reflecting on my reaction I realise that it's not really what people say to me that matters as much as what I feel they're attacking.  I realise that I get so angry because I feel like they are asking me to cut back on something, often the main thing, that I do in life for my own self-fulfillment and enjoyment.  Like many of you, I have a family and friends and a home and personal issues and occasionally a job that put demands on me.  All of these are good things and I am lucky to have them, lucky to be wanted and needed in so many different ways.  But sometimes I feel pulled in too many different directions.  When I'm asked to be somewhere for someone I go, almost without questioning.  And the more demands that are placed on me, the less I tend to question whether I should always accede to them, the more I just tend to flip from one to the other.  Yes - I find it hard to say no.  As far as this chest infection goes - who knows what caused it?  Maybe running Boston was tougher than I thought, I was tired afterwards and flew home on a germy plane,  I didn't take enough time off before starting up running again.  All true.  But I can tell you that in the last few weeks I was feeling increasingly overwhelmed by the rest of my life and how tiring that was.  I spent very little time exercising precisely because I was doing so much other stuff.  And I was beginning to long for a training schedule because I know how dedicated I am to following a schedule and how, when I'm training, I make smarter decisions on which of the demands from the rest of my life I should be responding to.  When I'm in training, I know I have limited time for the rest of stuff and so I am focused and directed.  So - in contrast to what people say to me - I think that training actually forces me to balance my life.  And makes me happy.  So as soon as I can, I will get my training head back on.
can you see one of the sweet things in the rest of my life?
Which means that 10 more of days of sitting things out is not something I'm relishing. Watching from the sidelines in any aspect of something in life is not something I enjoy.  I've never even spectated a race - and that shames me, because I have drawn on the support of crowds on many an occasion (never more so than when I had to do so, literally, in the 2009 London marathon).  And to thwart any intention I might have to become a better spectator, the ridiculous lottery system that the London Olympics has instigated for UK residents meant that most of us who applied got NO tickets at all while residents of the rest of the EU were able to apply on a first-come, first-serve basis for whatever event they liked.  Bitter, me?  But if anyone you know wants to rent a lovely apartment near the Olympics site during the summer Olympics, let me know because I'm cashing in, I'm going to spectate this thing like the rest of you - on TV. 

Where does that leave my summer plans?  Well - I'm not sure.  I am - so far - committed to two events - the Virgin London triathlon (July 31st) and the Cascade Lakes Relay (August 5-6).  I was hoping to start a "proper" 6 week triathlon schedule on Jun 20th.  I'm going to have to see how that works out with my health and whether I'm able to do so.  I have various triathlon books but was going to follow a combination beginner / intermediate program from - beginner for swimming, intermediate for cycling and running, but if I really need to start up slowly (do I? do I have to?) I will do the beginner program for everything.  I mean, let's face it, this race is not going to be impressive in terms of time, given the base I'll be coming from.  But I really would like, one way or the other, to do this thing.  I was considering doing a sprint triathlon in the run-up to it but I am abandoning that plan so I don't overcommit myself.  As for the relay - Jen and Zach who have so sweetly invited me onto their team have also reassured me that the point of the relay is the fun, not the time - so no-one is expecting anything lightning-fast from me in Oregon either.  The pressure is off. 

So bear with me as I grumble my way through my convalescence - do you think I could at least do a 30 minute yoga video? - and soon, I hope, I will be joining you out on the road again.  


Amanda@runninghood said...

Can't wait to read this in its entirety....Hopefully as soon as I get a decent break today but it is on the top of my reading list girl! xo

Anonymous said...

hi petra - i also get similar comments about how running is ruining my health. i think those comments come out of people's own insecurities about themselves and when they see us ill due to a bug or a virus, it gives them a false sense of reassurance about their wellbeing and more misguided reasons why they shouldn't do something positive about themselves. when this happens, i usually sign up for another marathon, just because i can:)

Amanda@runninghood said...

I would find these comments annoying too. Some people just don't get it. Everyone has an opinion and unfortunately too many people place their own opinions on others all too often: "you'll get sick if you don't drink cow's milk, You have to have meat to be healthy, marathons are not good for a women because she loses too much body fat..." ha! I've heard many things that I just have to roll off my back. Good for you for staying true to yourself and knowing what helps you stay balanced! Balance is key and important for you in being the best you can be! And yes, take the pressure off...always a good thing! :)

Susan said...

Hang in there, dear friend! It will all sort itself out. I just know it. :)

Meg said...

Hi Dear Girl!
It sounds like you have some fun summer plans...a tri? How fun and I bet it's great to switch up the training like that!
I just don't LIKE IT AT ALL when people have negative things to say about running and illness, etc. I've come to the place in my life where I just have to do what is best for ME and not worry about everyone else's story. They all have one and it's not mine! I know what makes me happy and healthy and it's my responsibility...sorry for the rant but I totally relate to your feelings.
Finally, I hope you feel better and can get into a comfortable schedule soon. I think I'll post the one I'm using for 10k's because it really helps me and I've seen results!
BTW, the weight issue is interesting. I find that speed work keeps my weight down, not mileage. My body has been accustomed to mileage but the hill repeats, speed pick ups and shorter tempos in my schedule are shocking my system and burning more calories. Which is great because I love food.