Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Chasing Stage 4

So last time I wrote about the stages of shingles (the ones I went through anyway)... and as I was out riding my bike today (yay I'm finally riding my bike again!) I was thinking about the stages we go through when trying to regain lost fitness. Maybe a good blog post? Or maybe not? Ha! I'll give it a shot though and see what I can come up with. And I guess this goes without saying, but this is kind of how I personally experience the effort to regain lost fitness. For others it's likely different.

You take time off for whatever reason- you're injured, you're sick, you're done with your season and just want/need a bit of a break... regardless of the reason, when you're not training for an extended period of time, you lose fitness. Not the end of the world and we all go through it... but then we all try to get it back. Honestly lately I've been thinking that maybe one of the most challenging parts of having been fit in the past is the realization of how much it sucks when all that fitness disappears because you know how hard it is to earn back. I am not one of those genetically gifted athletes who magically gets fit overnight. It is a long damn process for me and requires a lot of diligent consistent specific work.

For me personally, it seems like it's been a loooong time since I've had any sort of consistent training pattern. Since August, really. After Canada I took ~2 weeks and did very little, then took another full week completely off. Starting back to training after that pretty much sucked and physically I felt like shit much of the time. A couple weeks later, just as I was seeing hints of some fitness returning, I dropped a broken plate on my foot and gashed it pretty deep- probably deep enough that I could have used stitches but I did not bother... figuring it would heal fine on its own. That was likely a mistake (hindsight is 20/20 you know). Anyway, it was another setback of 3 more days doing nothing and then limited training for about a week after that. Then again just as I was seeing hints of fitness coming back, I got shingles and was in bed for another week feeling as bad as I've felt in a long time. Shingles knocks your immune system down pretty solidly and after I finally felt well enough to go swim, I ended up with an ear infection the day after I first hit the pool. Lovely, eh?? My point of all this is simply that I feel like I'm starting from ground zero over here, which might not be such a terrible thing given that it's Nov... except that I am signed up for an Ironman in MARCH. My sense of urgency to start to get at least some baseline fitness back is probably higher than most of yours at this point. But I'm trying to not freak out. :)

So that's the background. Currently, my ears are not hurting, the cut on my foot is pretty much healed even if the scar is wickedly ugly (who cares!) and seems like my energy levels are almost normal again post shingles. I'm managing to get out the door for some swim/bike/run almost daily now but it.is.ugly all around. Which lead me to thinking about this post!

Stages Of Regaining Fitness:

Stage 1: OH GLORIOUS DAY!!! This is so awesome I am outside and I am swimming/biking/running and oh it feels so good to be outside and able to exercise... who cares about my pace or my heart rate I am outside swimming/biking/running. So happy!!!! (For me this stage lasted like 3 days.)
Stage 2: Realization that I should really go about this in a diligent way... strap on that HR monitor and abide by what it is telling me... OMG does that say 155? I'm running 11' pace?!? WTF!?! Um, did Nalani seriously just lap me? In a longcourse pool?? Where's my pull buoy?? Um, I can't even attempt that swim workout yet. Maybe I'll just kick today. 2 hours is a hell of a long time to ride a bike. I'm trashed. This training is not very much fun (read: it sucks) but I know that if I stick with it eventually it will get better... (The length of this stage varies depending on the sport. I think my run will likely be in this stage for another month at least. Swim and bike typically move on to stage 3 after 1-2 weeks).

Stage 3: Looking at my watch while swimming I think, Ok well that is still way off where I've been before but seeing little hints of improvement. Finished a whole 3800M in the pool and didn't get lapped. Yay for small victories! Manage to get in 2 training sessions on the same day and while I felt tired, I wasn't crawling. Then I get the depressing thoughts like: Ok well this is better than last week but OH MY still have such a long way to go. How am I ever going to actually get as fit as I was before? Let alone more fit? Is that even possible? Rational self/coach says: It's probably best to not let these thoughts enter your head. Just shut your brain up and keep plugging away through stage 3. You might be here for a while.

So Stage 4 would be where you finish a workout and realize that you didn't just survive it... but that you actually felt good/strong! And maybe even went fast? I am pretty far from that one right now but I'll let you know when I get there. That is really the reason we suffer through the monotony of stage 3, isn't it? For that elusive feeling of nailing it in a workout or a race? I miss that feeling, but I'm going to be chasing Stage 4 until I get there again. :)

1 comment:

Mary IronMatron said...

Michelle, I totally can relate to this post! I have been in stage three for awhile now, specifically with my running. Today I actually felt GOOD for the first 20 minutes of my run, though! THANK GOD! Granted, I was still 1 min per mile slower than my base being in shape pace... but at least I wasn't hating life and bemoaning that my slow pace actually felt hard.
I'm glad you're back at it. Sometimes, I think, our best seasons come after a long hiatus like you just had...