Tuesday, April 24, 2012


The facilities in the Universidad de Europa

If you have been following this blog for a while, you may have noticed a bit of a trend lately, one in which I have been losing a bit of motivation, am a bit less hungry for competition and more concerned about training "stressing me out". I think it is for various reasons. Firstly, work is more stressful and so I have less capacity for stress to spend on training: these days, if I have noticed my training is making me more stressed rather than less, I ask myself if it is worth it. This, I think, is a sign of maturity! Also, it has to be noted that I have achieved the goals I set myself (Ironman, sub 3-hour Marathon) and I have sensibly resisted escalating these goals (so far) in difficulty. But I think the most important reason (though perhaps not the most significant) is that I have reached a point where I can trust myself not to fall into an abyss of over-indulgence if I have not the discipline that an upcoming competition imposes on me. Along the lines of the post I wrote some time ago, I have reached the phase of enjoying training for training's sake.

Put another way, training has helped me outrun the midlife crisis that struck 5 years ago and now I don't think there's any chance it can catch up with me again (well, not this crisis anyway). And, much more effective than spending money on psychologists or psychiatrists, has been investing in a running coach. So it was with some emotion that I told Jonathan today that I was planning to take 6 months off from following a structured training programme - in other words, that I would be going solo for a while. Jonathan has been a tremendous support to me over the last 4 years and it feels a little bit scary to not have someone I can call on but, being rational, I don't really need him for moral support any more; another thing altogether is trying for a personal best in a competition. Another aspect I miss is that of belonging to a group, even if I hardly ever saw any of them. In practice, it is easier for me to organize group rides or runs with people that I work with, who are subject to more or less the same constraints that I am.

In any case, I am being sentimental - it's only "hasta luego" not "adíos". On Thursday I'll go for a last lactate test (for now) to use as a reference point for when I go back in September, when we'll start preparations for the New York Marathon. In the meantime, I have set myself the following objectives:

1) Get better at swimming
2) Enjoy training - more variety, spontaneous outings with friends
3) Maintain my level of fitness as much as is possible

So the idea is to try to fit into each week

- 2 swimming sessions (one of which is a class)
- 1 weights session
- 1 commute to work (by bike or on foot)
- 1 long ride / run at the weekend, the other day off
- 1 hard workout (series)

Instead of planning ahead and thinking "this week I have to do such and such" the idea is to look backwards and see what I have managed to do and use that to help decide what to do each day, without worrying about making up quotas. I'm fairly used to how the weights sessions, the long runs and the hard series build from one week to the next, so I think I should be able to manage to make something up reasonably well. It's nice to be able to think "Hmmm, what shall I do tomorrow?".

I've felt less hungry for competition lately but you know what the good thing is? It doesn't worry me. Maybe I will decide not to compete so much or so furiously and that is perhaps a good thing. And if it does come back, than so be it.

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