Friday, December 06, 2019

Warning: Grumpy, broken used-to-be-a-triathlete

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My original title for this blog was “Warning: Grumpy, broken triathlete”. But it’s a fair reflection on a sad state of affairs that right now I can’t even call myself a triathlete. To be a triathlete (in my book), you actually have to race!.

Things had been looking good for a while. A week’s training in Mallorca showed promise on the bike, with PBs on every single climb (Sa Calobra, Puig Major, Formentor, Lluc etc.) and the running even seemed to be coming back to me, albeit slowly.

But following a recent work trip to Las Vegas, I’ve returned to the UK with absolutely no energy and no explanation for my malaise.  I don’t feel ill. I just feel tired. All the time. When I do head out on the bike or for a run (haven’t even had the time to try swimming recently!), my heart rate just shoots straight up.  I don’t normally suffer jet-lag too badly (do it too often!), but it’s now been 10 days and I’m still feeling meh.

On the bike, I can still put out around the same power, just not for very long! And on the run I end up a sweaty mess within 10 minutes, even on supposedly easy jogs.

Clearly something isn’t right, but I have no idea what it is.

I didn’t even ‘hit’ Vegas particularly hard.  The working days were long (online at 5.30am most mornings to catch my team back in Europe, rarely ending before 7pm) enough that I elected to take the week as a rest from training, figuring that my body might thank me after a sustained training block.

In reality, however, it seems to have the exact opposite effect!

It kind of sums up 2016 so far. Only two races done, neither with particularly stunning results (didn't even bother with the usual post-race reports) and absolutely no progress to point at in terms of bike or run speed. It’s very demoralising.

Work is a factor, for sure.  Most weeks I take at least a couple of short-haul flights, with long haul every 6-8 weeks on average.  I spend a lot of time in hotels eating restaurant food. I struggle in the mornings with neither the energy or discipline to get up and out early for that pre-work run, swim or workout.

Am I lazy?  Probably.  Am I fatigued? Maybe.  Am I fed up? Definitely.

I have no idea how common this is among Age Group athletes, or even Professionals.  Right now, my social feeds are jam-packed with buddies doing PBs at this race and that, qualifying for world championships and GB Age Group slots.  And I’m sat there feeling like a big fat failure, unable to even get close to previous ‘glories’.

So how to get out of this funk?  I wish I knew.  Honestly, right now it’s just a long dark tunnel and there’s not even a chink of light ahead.

Friends say ‘take a break’, but of course that’s the last thing I want to do!  The ‘A’ race only gets closer and I’ve got so much ground to make up, let alone progress to make. It feels like the worst advice ever.

So I face a dilemma.  Do I just take a step back and accept that I’m in effect writing off 2016?  Or do I MTFU and just get on with it and stop being a lazy prat?  Do I accept that my work / life balance doesn’t support my triathlon aspirations, or do I refuse to let that excuse dictate that triathlon must only ever be a ‘hobby’?

I’d be really interested to hear from other people who identify with what I’m going through and managed to find a way through it.

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Matt Fisher runs - so it's all his fault! He pretends to be a triathlete, but really he is a husband, father and company VP. But he has raced for the GB Age Group squad a few times and is a two-times qualifier for the IM70.3 world champs