This has been a particularly difficult post to work on, mostly because I have spent a great deal of time staring at my flaws and weaknesses. One of the main conclusions is that I need to find ways to adjust my goals and align my self-expectations to that I am not undermining my chances at success.so I’ve started and stopped writing, over-edited, suffered from blocks, and just avoided trying to gather my thoughts together.
This last training cycle I learned a practical lesson on the impact that stress, diet, and training have on performance. These three factors are strongly interdependent and one being unoptimized can result in the other two being adversely impacted. So the question I have been asking myself is what went so wrong that all three completely fell apart for me?
Answering that I need to look back at the training cycle for the Burlington marathon in May. The biggest difference between Burlington and Hartford was quality and quantity of training. Leading up to Burlington, I had many more months or more focused time on building base mileage and completing most of the core training exercises, training collapsed for approximately a six week period after my marriage fell apart but I had the inertia of prior training to carry me through along with the shock wave of coming to terms with my daughter and my new lives.
When the Burlington marathon was over and the elation of running my first marathon had subsided I found myself adrift and overwhelmed by life circumstances. Running has been critical to keeping me focused and feeling sane but during that period the stress became so great that I lost sleep, which impacted my mood and energy levels and led to a collapse down the chain.
Eating was the first thing to fall apart as my stress increased. When I ate, which became sporadic, I made poor choices. Gratefully, I did not slide into fast food binging and drinking soda and energy drinks but I gave up on ensuring that I was eating balanced, rather if I felt hungry I would either drink a smoothie or eat bread. I felt lethargic and my ability to focus deteriorated further which in turn killed my ambition and drive.
High levels of stress along with a crap diet meant I had little motivation to get out the door and run intervals, hill repeats, or even long runs which are my favorite time to collect and organize myself. Training became erratic, I would oscillate between higher mileage weeks and ones with almost none. When I did run, I whipped myself to go farther and faster than I should and that lead to tedonitis in my foot, which meant even less running. All of that feed back into my stress levels and amplified the whole cycle.
It has been three weeks since I ran Hartford and while I would love to be typing this with things back on track but, sadly, I am still working my way back. There is no magic incantation to sweep away stress, to restore restful nights, and ensure a well stocked kitchen. Last week I had a decent string of runs and I worked hard on righting some of the issues with my diet but stress continues to be an elusive beast to hunt down.
Working through this, I am learning some critical things.
- Narrow my world.
- Relentlessly organize my time and my space.
- Strive for “good enough” and accept it when it arrives.
- Make time for nothing.
There is only so much I can worry about, only so many things I can have a meaningful impact on. My days should be filled with my family, my friends, myself, and my job and, ideally, just in positive ways.
In approximately six months I will be stepping back in the the corrals for another marathon and my simple goal for that race is to just be a better prepared runner and, above all else, a happier person.