View from our Monday night running spot
New addition to the family, the cutest and sweetest puppy ever, Spencer.
I often make analogies between life and sport, so much so that it gets boring. But after this week, my rest week, I have come out with a deeper understanding of life... and sport.
I never used to like rest weeks, a lot of athletes don't. Routines get disturbed and there is more time, less sweating, more sitting around... I entered the rest week quite tired from my first 4week cycle of ironman training. The hours had been done, heart rate had been measured, everything had been recorded and having ended the week with a tough 2 hour turbo/ 40 min run brick I felt ready to enter into a week where sleeping and eating had a priority over rushing to the pool after work. It started off well, with Monday's swim and weights being omitted and the run cut down from 45 to 30 easy minutes. A nap in the afternoon, with little Spencer (the new addition to our family) sleeping happily next to me, rounded the perfect rest day off!
The week continued in a similar fashion, the two/three hours of training were reduced to 1 per day, lots of technique and when dog allowed, yoga. Only instead of finding myself feeling refreshed and rested I started feeling more tired. The old me would have given in, adding sessions here and there to feel better. The new me thought... how could this be?
In sport, as in life on reflection, the recovery and rest that follow a period of stress (and, let's be honest, what is ironman training if not stressful for the body!) can be the toughest ones. When the adrenaline wanes and the acute pain subsides, you get a deeper ache and a fatigue.
Before my father died, and while he battled the disease so bravely with us on his side, I managed to live with little sleep, not a lot of food and with acute emotions. I also thought that when it was all over, things would go back to normal, like we were before. What I found was a deep ache, a big gap and a heavy tiredness remaining. Nothing was/is back to normal. Or rather we are all getting used to a new type of reality and normality.
I am striving to give my soul what it needs to recover. I am giving myself time and focusing on the good things in life. I miss him like crazy, more so when I am happy, like today. But I know that I will recover and I will be stronger for it.
Sport has given me so much in my life. When I try to think of the biggest life lessons, most of them have come from sport. Before I failed to make the lightweight Blue Boat at Oxford, in my third year as an undergraduate, I had never failed at anything. What a lesson that was!
Not just lessons of course! Sport has given me some of my closest friends. Friends who have seen me cry in pain and in joy, who have helped me "needle" my blisters, who have raced with me and supported me. And of course sport gave me my husband! A man so loving and caring, yet like me disciplined and driven (and far wiser than I will ever be!)
Sport is helping me recover. In practical terms it has helped me to get back into a routine, helped me sleeping and my eating patterns, both of which were very disturbed after my dad's passing. It is helping me look into the future: when some days seem too hard I have a goal to focus on. And it is helping me see beauty around me again! I am back on the bike, literally... and figuratively.
Recovery week over. I am ready for another 4 week cycle!