This week I had my first dark day. My foot has been playing up more than usual and I was still a week away from treatment. I knew I had to cut back the running and thats not great for someone less than 5 months away from a 140.6, with no more than 8 continuous miles under their belt.
Still, the first things I try to instil in my athletes is “Control the controllable” and “Find the positive”. I am usually pretty good at this and up until Wednesday I was doing ok. However, for whatever reason, I woke up feeling less than chipper. I then had a disaster session in the pool and my mindset went black. I’d been feeling a little guilty for all the training hours taking me away from my husband, my dog and my home but I know my husband understands (and has never complained so this is ALL in my head) and while things are going great it’s ok as it all feels worthwhile.
Normally one bad session wouldn’t be enough to derail me but this week, for whatever reason, it was. I am only human after all and sometimes things get the better of you. Realising that I’d forgotten to check in with a close friend, who is really going through something shit, pushed me over the edge. It all seemed pointless. Thoughts of “whats the point in doing all this, if you’re going to fail anyway” plagued me, along with “this just isn’t worth it, you’re a shit triathlete and all this is going to count for nothing” and more along the same theme. Dramatic right! I know! But when you get beat down, you get beat down and it happens to the best of us.
What really matters though is what you do next.. how you deal with the black thoughts and whether you pull yourself out of the quagmire. Obviously I did. I quit the swim as it clearly wasn’t working. I went home, ran a bath and took 15 minutes of relaxed silence to reprogram my thoughts. I told myself it’s inevitable to have bad days. I always tell my team its the bad days that define us. Its easy when everything goes right. It’s how we deal with the tough times that show us who we really are. So, who am I? Oh right, I’m a muthafucking badass bear and badass bears don’t wallow in self pity. They take charge, they fix shit and they keep moving forward. Once out of the bath I first messaged my friend, then rescheduled my week to attack the swim again at the end of the week and got back on with my day.
Why am I sharing this? Because everyone will have self doubt at some point, especially anyone training for an Ironman (or crazy ass endurance event) as it takes such a commitment and so many other things have to take a back seat. Its a dark side of endurance training that we need to normalise and learn how to deal with. We all know the mantra; It’s ok not to be ok and it’s true. We just have to be kind to ourselves, take a few deep breaths and rationally look at the big picture, not just that one bad day!
Overall, my training week was pretty good so here it is:
12:30pm CrossFit Class
15 Min AMRAP
100m Farmer Carry 2x DB then 2 Rounds of DB DT (12 x Deadlift, 9 x Hang Power Clean, 6 x STOH)
*This was, as you can imagine, a grip burner. I survived better than I thought I would and my forearm only really went on my lefthand side. More unilateral grip strength work needs to be done clearly!
Tues – Rest Day
6:30am – Active Recovery Session at CFID
*Usual mobility and HR Z1 cardio to just move and focus on some deep mobility.
6:45am – Coach by Colour Indoor Cycle Class (as Coach)
*Week 9 of the 12 week Program = My favourite week of the program. It’s called Le Tour and is basically an homage to my favourite stage of the 2019 Tour De France. It was an Alpine stage so lots of heavy, heavy climbs and a bit of fast racing in between.
No brick run today as my foot has been a more tender than usual so had to cut it. Already by this stage of the week I was getting a little concerned that my training activity had dropped from it’s usual level, which as contributing to the dark mood I described in the opening of this blog.
In reality I’d missed a session on Monday (which is an added bonus if I do it anyway) and a 20 min run but today was the day my PMS kicked in and my mood dropped as a result of a hormone change but I wasn’t being rationale at this stage and mentally berating myself pretty damn hard.
12:45pm – Pool Swim
1 mile for time – was the plan but the world had other ideas (or, I let my mindset slip and get the better of me so I quit!)
*I have been saying in every other IM blog so far this year that my swim karma was seemingly a bit too good. Well, today it all changed. I was already being down on myself. When I arrived at the pool the changing room was loud, busy, chaotic and everything about it just rattled me. Then I went to put on my swim hat and it snapped. I was stood, in front of the mirror with my swimsuit on, watch set, googles in hand staring at my now useless swim hat thinking “well that’s that then. I cant swim today” Ridiculous maybe, but I have long, thick dreadlocks which do nothing to aid buoyancy or aerodynamics and weigh a ton when wet. I did tell myself I was being ridiculous though, pulled my hair into something i thought might work in the water and hit the lane. It was a DISASTER. My hair fell out of the ponytail/bun thing I had tried to secure it as, it pulled my head and neck down in the water. I retied it and tried to keep going but it kept slipping and threw my whole swim off. My feet were hitting the bottom of the pool, I was over-rotating, everything was just wrong. I persevered for 400m and then gave up. Another contributing factor to my dark mood and building sense that this week was going to shit.
I teach my athletes three key things when it comes to mindset;
1 – Control the controllable
2 – Find the positive
3 – Learn the lessons
I tried to apply these to this situation, both in the moment and after. Doing this is one of the main reasons I pulled myself out of my funk.
Instead of not swimming I thought “what if this happens on race day, what if you end up having to swim without hat” – actually, this is not only unlikely but would probably secure you a disqualification as generally, all swimmers must be wearing the issued swim cap so they can be easily identified, and I would have spare hats so that if one split or snapped when putting it on, I would just grab another.
The positive was that at least I tried. I managed 400m. Ok, it wasn’t much in the grand scheme of things but it was something.
Lessons learned – buy a couple more swim hats (I need a special size swim hat because of my hair so couldn’t even just go to reception and buy one) and keep spares in your bag.
11:30am – Mono-structural Cardio Conditioning Session
45 Min; 5 Min Row, Assault Bike, Ski – Each 5 min starts with 400m run
*I pulled my head out my ass and decided that if my main concern was my lack of activity this week, find some space and add a session in. I had 60 minutes spare before the CF class so went in early and got some shit done. I could have stayed at home and done this session in my own gym but I like going to the box. Its separate to my work and my home and if I’m going there, it’s for the purpose of training (or to drink coffee, but thats usually only ever after training!)
12:30pm – CrossFit Conditioning Class
42 Min EMOM (Min 1 to 4 40sec, Min 5 60sec)
1: Alt Devil Press, 2: Goblet Squat, 3: Sit Up, 4: Box Step Up, 5: Row, 6: Rest
6:30pm – Coach by Colour Indoor Cycle Class (as Coach)
*Same as Weds am.
12:30pm – CrossFit Class
Part A: For Time
10-9 -8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 2xDB Front Squat + Bar Facing Burpees At minute 10:
6 mins to establish a heavy complex for the day; 1 x Clean, 1 x Front Squat, 1 x STOH
*This was a variation of an Open workout from 2018. Part A was an exact copy so we got to test ourselves against our previous best. I was really pleased as I beat my score by over a minute. Happy Liza! The complex was new as in The Open it was only a 1RM Clean. I was strong with the Clean and Front squat but as usual my confidence in/fear of pushing a heavy bar over my head let me down. Once this Ironman is done and dusted I am going to spend a few months focussing mainly on overcoming some of the major weaknesses in my CrossFt repertoire.
2:00pm – Work on your Weaknesses EMOM with Head Coach Toby
30 Min EMOM
1: 1 Snatch, 3 Bar Muscle Up Progressions, 2: 16 Box Step Over, 3: 6/6 DB Hang Clean & Jerk, 4: 2 x 16kg KB 100ft Farmer Carry, 5: Rest
7:15am – 4 Mile Run
8am – CrossFit Class, Partner WOD with my husband
25 min AMRAP; Run 400m – Together (row for me) 30 x Power Cleans, 20 x Box Jumps (Steps for me, Stoopid foot!), 30 x STOH
20 x Pull Ups
TeamSmith got to train together today as my usual CF Partner was out with a bad back. Carl and I don’t often train together so it’s really fun when it happens. We both agreed to push ourselves with a heavier barbell weight and go hard on the run/row. We both tried, and we both succeeded. Go Us 🙂
9am – Coach By Colour Indoor Cycle Class
* as a participant rather than coach.
10am – 1650m Swim
* yep, thats right I redid my swim session and it was fine. It was better than fine. It was good.
It also helps that I’m on restricted running right now as normally I’d run on Sundays but rather than sulk about not being able to run, find the positive. No running means time available. What sucked this week, what can I put right? What can I try and fix?