I am sure by now everyone is sick of hearing about how many setbacks I've encountered this year and how I feel like my entire season is over. I have taken some advice from Amelia Boone who recently wrote about Injuries, Identity and Athletes. So don't hold your breath waiting for my apology.
I think too much; I always have. I spent most of April thinking about how ridiculously hard it has been to get back on the fitness bandwagon. Where did my motivation go and when is it coming back? I went through various stages of regret for falling--or rather being pushed--off the wagon, to anger for not being able to climb right back up.
As I dug further into the physiological and psychological side of everything I began to understand. The body and brain are programed to take the easy way out, to avoid stress and danger. Exercise is stress, good stress but still stress. The body wants to avoid exercise until you train it enough to convince the brain that this stress is okay and even welcomed. So even though I had forged a healthy lifestyle years ago, it took less than 8 weeks to revert back to my original programming. I had to recreate my healthy lifestyle habit, and I knew it would take at least 3 weeks to create the routine and upwards of 9 weeks to have it re-ingrained into my being.
And so I spent most of May trying, failing, and trying again. Where was my motivation to get through those first 3 weeks? To get over the hump? I kept trying to will myself into motivation. Crucifying myself for not being excited to workout. I love this stuff! Or do I? The demons ran ramped in my mind. And then 4 words in a podcast changed my entire perspective: "Forget motivation. Cultivate discipline." To me it was mind blowing. Motivation is irrelevant to an athlete. Training is a 24/7 job. And motivation doesn't exist for anyone 24/7. Why was I waiting around for motivation when I needed to cultivate discipline? I needed to nurture and grow a plan that leads to my goals.
I am learning hard and fast that cultivating discipline isn't pretty. Not to a competitive person with goals that had built up to a 12-15 hour training week and strict diet program. Scaling that back to a 5 hour per week program to help create the routine is beyond frustrating. However, trying to push too much, too soon, too hard landed me nowhere. I wasted a few weeks of having a few good days followed by a crash and burn. My body and brain couldn't keep up and resisted the change.
In early May I was diagnosed with runner's knee; a wonderful side effect of going from a full training program to doing absolutely nothing and then trying to get back into a program too fast. So I spent three weeks before the Boston Sprint creating routine, strengthening my body, and correcting imbalances. I felt like I was on a roll. A week before the race my lower back flared up out of nowhere and prevented me from racing. I am back to square one (again), and searching for a doctor who can help me fix my body.
It seems the removal of a small cyst in my tongue has caused a four month long chain reaction that continues to derail my training and racing.
While I keep falling down, I keep getting back up. It tears me up inside. I keep writing, talking, and crying about it -- because I care. No matter what those demons say in my head, part of me won't accept them. And because I still care, I have to keep going. My entire season remains foggy. My goals become less attainable with each passing day, at least in the timeframe I set. But onward I go. Down this never ending road of weight loss, fitness, and self-improvement. Cultivating and nourishing. The best I can.