Wednesday, May 8, 2013

adapting vs. abusing ...

When it comes to endurance training (or really any physical activity), you need to challenge your body to go beyond what it can currently do. Sometimes that means more time. Sometimes it means more distance. And sometimes it means more speed. Doing all of those things can cause change as your body adapts to the stresses you place upon it. Think about it. If you're not challenging yourself, you're not making change.

But, at what point does your body stop adapting? And at what point do all of those stresses add up and start abusing your body instead?

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Currently, my body is revolting. I add more and more stresses upon it each week and little by little it fights back. I'm tired. I'm gaining an ungodly amount of weight. I'm never fresh. Sure, the 10 to 12 hours per week of training (which will double in the coming weeks) is making me fitter. It's building my endurance. But, at the same time, I feel weaker and weaker.

Don't get me wrong, on occasion I have those "magic" days where workouts seem effortless. But, more and more, I am fighting to get through. Pushing myself past the voices in my head and the weakness in my muscles to finish.

I think it's hard to know when to stop. There is something to be said for pushing through fatigue. It can pay off huge during those ugly moments on race day. And let's not forget those workouts where you feel fine but you lack the motivation to give it your all. Those are the workouts that you need to push through to shut your mind up and show it that your body is stronger.

But, what if you can't tell the difference? I've had a hard time figuring out where to draw the line. And an even harder time determining if I am doing myself any good or whether it be best to stop the abuse and call it a day.

During my swim this morning, I called it quits. I knew I could finish it. But, I knew that if I did continue it would be a half-assed effort. Eventually, as I held back tears with each lap, I knew that my mind and body were weak and I couldn't take much more.

It's workouts like this (and others over the past few weeks) that have me questioning why I keep pushing myself so hard. Why I even want to tackle 140.6. And when my body is just going to say enough is enough.

Ultimately, I come back to not wanting to quit. I feel like I have something to prove, despite having no one who expects anything from me. I know that no one will feel let down if I stop or be disappointed if all my free time wasn't spent training, eating and sleeping.

I know it's just the voice in my head telling me that changing my own game plan isn't OK. But that little voice is hard to ignore ...

12 comments:

Anne said...

I have a feeling that if your girls were older and you had lots of time to recuperate after your workouts things would be different. Perhaps it's just a question of timing...you are a very involved mom and you have three children under 10, which means that you can't just rest when you're not training. This is my personal opinion, but I feel like we CAN do it all, just not all at the same time. 140.6 is huge! Good luck with everything...and don't be afraid to give yourself a choice. You are an amazingly strong inspiring woman and choosing your battles does not diminish who you are and what you've already done!

Kurt @ Becoming An Ironman said...

I couldn't agree more. It's a fine line between adaptation and abuse, though most people would agree that most of what we (read: endurance athletes) do is abuse.

One of the biggest things I've picked up in my own journey and am still struggling to figure out is Listening to your Body. It will tell you when it needs to rest. I just wish it would learn to speak in a language I understand. haha

I wish you all the best in trying to figure out how to find a happy middle ground, but in either case, don't let the abuse trump your desire to accomplish the goal. Your body will go through the motions, but your desire will get tossed out the window much earlier. Don't lose that!!

bobbi said...

I can't even imagine the toll 140.6 training must take of your mind and your body. And how tough it must be trying to figure out whether you SHOULDN'T work out or if you just don't WANT to.

Be kind to you.

Michelle said...

I've been thinking about you a lot this week because you've been very quiet.
I concur with the ladies...you aren't factoring in motherhood as part of your fatigue. Your girls are at a BUSY age. I don't know how you even contemplate doing what you're doing. I know you are bad ass, but even BA's have times where the time just isn't right.
I know you aren't a quitter. YOU know you aren't a quitter. But look at the whole spectrum of your life. You know that J and the 3 lil' D's come first. You are important too! But, at what expense are you able to do the things you love? In 10 years, would you be better prepared to do a 140.6 with GUSTO?
You don't do anything half way. But maybe this 140.6 is the one to "finish". When your girls are older, maybe that is the time to dream big time goals.
Not to mention, something is going on with your body. You know that. Take that into consideration.
I know I've rambled and teeter-tottered. Just remember--we are here to support you in any way. Whatever decision you make, we GET it. And you will always be my #1 honeybadger!

MCM Mama said...

You've gotten some really good advice above. Are you perhaps using too aggressive of a plan? I know you want the 140.6 and you want to do it well, but could you pull back a little (add an extra day of recovery or a pull back week or something) and still be well trained? It sounds like you may be on the edge of overtraining or that everything else you have going on is adding too much extra stress and energy usage.

Good luck! And I'll just say, as someone who's a few years ahead of you, once they are all in elementary school, it's a game changer. You have time for workouts, recovery, and food before you have to be full on present with the kids.

DavidJudy Read said...

Oh Tonia! I wish I had some good, sound advice to give you. Just lots of love and support. I think you are totally badass and admire you for what you accomplish on a daily basis between training and your family. Keep your chin up.....

Heather Heston said...

It is a fine line, and one I too have been walking (or running). I had this years, and next years races all planned out. I Really wanted to run Goofy's Challenge in 2014, as a 40th birthday gift to myself. I finally admitted to myself that it isn't going to happen. My IT band issues are getting worse- I have been struggling to run across the finish lines of my races (last one, I had to walk). It's frustrating. However, my family doesn't think less of me for not being able to run as much anymore. Now it's time that I stop thinking less of myself for not being able to run as much anymore. I'm going to finish up this year (3 more halfs) and find something else to do. Maybe one day I will return to running.

runningthedawn.com said...

Those darn internal voices.... They never let us slack. You are awesome. Keep on keeping on.

christa said...

I hear ya, I wanted to throw in the towel (running shoes) on Sunday during a race. It was hard, I've been fighting cancer and having chemo since january, I was undertrained, I didn't do as well as I wanted to, have in the past. I'm not giving my body a chance to rest and heal..

kimert said...

I have no advice but wanted to tell you that I think you are amazing. Juggling a family and intense training at the same time is tough (and my training is not close to intense compared to yours). However, our bodies are SO good at letting us know when we need a bit of extra rest/down time.

Kate @ Life on the Pavement... said...

Dang those voices in our heads! Just be sure and listen to your body. You know what you are doing!

Elizabeth said...

hmm. not sure i have an answer on this one. will you take a break (or just do some shorter distances) after the ironman? maybe that will help you feel rested?