Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Training trends

It seems every year I go through some sort of cycle. Typically it starts early in the year and usually in February lasting until well into March. That's just the nature of the beast though.

By the end of October I'm typically kissing my racing season goodbye and welcoming a period of much needed rest. During this period I usually take time to reflect on the seasons triumphs and tragedies while at the same time catching up on areas of life that have been put on hold for the past 8-10 months. It's a grand time of eating recklessly, throwing a life of routine out the window and welcoming sur-of-the-moment activities, whatever those activities may be.

This is also the time when I think about the upcoming year and my goals. It's my opportunity to think big and dream of the lofty goals I set for myself as the old season winds down and the new one comes to life.

But this downtime has some negative consequences. (Note: I suppose everything does but stick with me on this).

For one thing, it's tough to get back into a routine. Both my body and mind envelope the lavish experience of the period of low stress much like a kid welcomes a piece of candy. Having time to do what I want, when I want without needing to be somewhere to train or run from place to place only to get there right in the nick of time is a great thing. That alone makes the transition from down time to pre-season (Jan-March) a very difficult thing.

Another negative is the loss of my natural endorphines. Let's face it, exercising feels great. Exercising intensely feels even better. During the down time I don't my regular endorphine kick. As a result my mind and body start to look elsewhere for that natural happiness so I start doing things excessively that negatively impact my well being. One of those is drinking excess coffee. I would use the caffeine in coffee to replace the great feelings I get from endorphines. It's not something I do on a conscious level but something my body naturally gravitates to. I raelize this is getting into psychological behavior and all the intriquicies involved with it but anyone who's trained for a long period of time and then stops knows what I'm talking about. It's the behavior of an addict which, as anyone who knows me can agree, I display in textbook fashion. Hence why alcohol and nicotine are not a part of my life any more.

The last imporant side effect of the downtime I want to mention is the depression that sets in. There are a lot of contributing factors to this, some addressed in the previous paragraph. The observation I'd like to make is the transitiion from a goal-oriented lifestyle to a just-be lifestyle. For the previous 10 months I've spent so much time focusing on growing my stature that I greatly neglect growing in spirit and growing in mind. Ignorance is not bliss and when the muscle we call the brain is not exercised regularly a lot of areas of our life suffer. Our self confidence decreases, our congnitive abilities go down, our memory lapses, we become easily aggitated, self defensive and ultimately depressed. This depression doesn't usually set in for me until sometime in early January when my training is beginning again. I'm not fully sure how to explain it but it's a feeling of deep despair and a feeling that everyone on the planet is better than I am in all aspects of life. I want to crawl into a hole and disappear.

Right now I'm at what I hope is the end of this degenerative state. It's a terrible spot to be in and it takes a lot of friend power to push through it. I'm eternally indebted to the people who time and time again help me through the tough early part of the year. If history is any indication of the future (as a risk analysis specialist I know it's only partially indicitive) then I should be fully through this nonesense very soon.

I know the point of this blog is to share my trainings but hopefully this serves as a good read for people who find themselves in a similar spot. You're not alone in the cycles of training.


SteveQ said...

I just posted on how I'm dealing with a serious depressive episode.

Hang in there!

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