Monday, July 8, 2013

Ups, downs and around

So much has happened since my last blog post, and it is time to bring everyone up to speed. 

First and most importantly is my website is finally online! Check it out  .It  is in German and English. This blog isn’t yet…. Sadly, only English at the moment. Yet check it out!

Now let’s get into what I want to write about - mainly our ‘head space’ and I will talk a lot about the  Biel 100km race. From this race I learnt so much about myself, or perhaps a better way is to say I learnt some new stuff and confirmed other things.

Now I will define a couple of things;

First of all Biel is a 100km ultra marathon that starts at 10pm, so you run through the night. It is 80% road. 

‘Head space’ is your racing, training, and personal process of dealing with everything that happens. It is also the motivation and depression that can go on for you. It is the space that is used to think about everything. I want to focus more on the racing side here. I will go into what I think about everything else another time.

Head space in racing is so important thing, and I am sure the all the athletes who read this will agree. Yet ask yourself this question…. “What brings you into a good head space for a race?”  Well, what is it? Can you define it easily? Is it simple or are any number of things intermixed? Is it purely mental or is it physical as well?

For me it is a complicated process that starts long before the event.  For the Salt Flats 100 I had it sorted ok.  To get me onto that start line in a good head space took these factors plus many other small things. My training was ok, my motivation was high, I had desire to start, to really test myself, to see what would happen when fitness stopped and the mind took over. 

It is interesting because I felt my training wasn’t the best for the 4 weeks before the event, yet this feeling of the lack of training can really damage that head space. Have I done enough? Could I have got an extra couple of runs in per week?

So after the Salt Flats I went into recovery mode….. And I have to say that was the hardest thing I have ever had to recover from. Ironman was a walk in the park compared to how long it took to recover from Salt Flats. The Ironman is a killer event and it is so very hard, yet with only 42km of running to destroy your legs, it makes recovery faster.  I didn’t expect the level of damage to my body and most importantly my mind.  It wasted me….. Truly wasted me it a way that I have never experienced. 

This put a real damper on training for Biel. In fact, it sort of sat on it!  The desire to go training had left me - the sofa looked so very good. I would run and feel bad, more mental than physical, yet I kept trying…. I had to run Biel….. Why?…. Looking back, I don’t know.  I just felt I had to.

So come race time, I was looking forward to it. I was worried about how much was on the road, yet thought  “I can get through this”. My head wasn’t really there, yet I kept telling myself it would come. The race started and I felt really good, my legs were ok.  I did start a little too fast and had to keep pulling myself back. As the kms ticked away, I felt worse and worse.   I was running within myself and controlling my heart rate, yet my head wasn’t there.  I couldn’t focus. The road started to take its toll on me. The camber was killing me, it seemed very extreme. As the night turned into morning I just wanted to sleep. I wasn’t enjoying the road at all, then suddenly we were in the bush and my pace increased and I felt so much better….. And my focus came….. This ended as soon as we hit the road again.
My ankles started to hurt, I think from a mixture of the impact and the camber. It started as a dull pain and grew to a stabbing pain.  It was at this point I said enough was enough. I pulled out after 80km and about 75km of no enjoyment. 

For me, I think if the race had been off-road I would have been happy and finished ok, yet road running is not what I enjoy.  I knew that going into the race and learned the hard way that it was a mistake for me. I have a bucket list of races I want to do before I die, and after this one event I have taken 3 events off it.  Why? Because I know that it is pointless going to do an event I now know I will hate. 

This event showed me the one major factor I had forgotten about was Context or the environment for an event. Training and planning isn’t enough.  You have to want it, to enjoy the process of racing. Racing is the reward at the end of the training plan.  It is the candy that gets me training, yet to do an event that is not “fun” (however you class fun!) is madness in a true sense to me. 

The plus side is I am now back on my bike and loving it. Riding and enjoying the sun, feeling that burn in your legs. It is so nice. It is one thing I laugh at about myself… When running I enjoy offroad running, yet cycling I am so road focused! So I will have to get my Mountain bike out and start doing that again as well.

I did do a running race 2 weeks after Biel. It was only 8.4 km and on a hard little hilly course. 3 laps of just over half on road and the rest on a shingle trail. It went well…. When you think I hadn’t run since Biel and I had start riding again, plus eating WAY too much. I ran 34:16 which was 4 seconds faster than 2 years ago and placed 15th overall from 167 starters. It also hurt like hell….. Trying to run that hard over such a short distance = Painful.

So remember these factors when you are planning your events. Make it things you want to do, for reasons that inspire you! 

Train well! Because I am!


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