It’s this time of year that I find it hard to get excited about five hour endurance rides, 6AM swim practices, and three-a-day workouts in general. The mental and emotional energy that it requires to continue the day-in day-out slog grows exponentially the closer you get to fall. Some days, no amount of coffee will summon the strength needed to just get through a workout, let alone make it a quality one.
It’s late August and the bike racing season is rapidly coming to an end. The same is not true for triathlon. I have another nine weeks to push through, and that’s after cutting off four weeks in November that I’d originally planned on doing, leading up to race Cozumel full.
I think a big part of my recently lost passion for training comes down to a few things:
1) I haven’t raced very much this year due to injuries. Injuries are part of the game, especially early on in a tri “career” because of the newfound demands on the body. I think I’ll be much more structurally sound next season, which will hopefully result in missing fewer races than I sign up for (I’ve signed up for 10 halfs this year and have only raced two). Going for long spells without a race is hard for some, good for others. For me, I need the motivation of a race to get the most out of my body and mind during training. I know that others (freaks) are content racing only race a few times a year.
2) Progress is harder to see in triathlon than in cycling because the gains in each sport are smaller over a given period of time. In addition to that, the overall fatigue level is higher in triathlon due to not having to taper as often for races. As a cyclists, you get to test yourself every week or every other week in races, which keeps the motivation high and the need for having somewhat sharp legs necessary on a regular basis. As a triathlete you’re only racing once every five or eight weeks (or much less in my case). Because of the infrequency of needing to taper, you don’t see your true fitness reveal itself very often.
3) When expectations fall far short of reality, depression often ensues. I’m not downright depressed by any means, but I’m definitely in a bit of a slump due to the lack of racing, battling frequent injuries, and most of all not having the results I thought I was capable of at the beginning of the year. My only result of the season to speak of is 6th at Coeur d’Alene, and I didn’t even feel like that was a true showing of my fitness due to the injured hip. And a 6th surely won’t attract any sponsors. It’a all about getting free stuff, mind you.
Michael and I have decided for me to take an early taper for Santa Cruz, relocate some motivation while I rest, and start up again strong leading into the race, which is just 12 days away. My hip still hurts a tiny bit but doesn’t seem to slow me down or grow worse after runs, so I’m cautiously optimistic (on the outside) for a good result. On the inside I’m irrationally optimistic. Getting my hopes and dreams crushed in Santa Cruz will be just what the doctor ordered to get my motivation back for the last two months of racing. Nothing like a good ass kicking to want to train. Seriously. It’s strange that falling short of expectations can have two opposite affects depending on the time-frame. Season-long shitty performance is bad for the mind, yet having a shitty race is good for the mind in the weeks immediately following it. Science.
One of the important things to remember is that sometimes pushing through periods of lackluster motivation can take their toll later on. Often it’s wise to just take a few days, or weeks, to rest and let the motivation come back on its own. It’s amazing what a few days of being a normal human being will do to you. It makes you antsy.
God my life sucks.