Thursday, February 15, 2007

Mental Health and a Little "R&R"

When I was in high school, during my senior year, I went through a tough spell. It started when me and my best friend got in a huge fight and stopped talking (for what ended up to be two years) and everyday I went to school, I would just be sad and crying and withdrawn. So I started calling my mom to come and get me from school, and take me home for half the day. Eventually, I just stopped going at all. Each morning I would wake up and ask my mom for a "Mental Health Day," and because she knew I was in a bad place, she would let me stay home. Of course, when they threatened not to graduate me for so many missed days, my gig was up and I had to go back, regardless of how depressed I was.

This morning was one of the those mornings I wish my mom could have called me in "sick" to the pool, allowing me a mental health day from my laps and drills that seemingly mocked me as soon as I stepped foot on the pool deck. Larry met me there, as usual, and we waited for some lanes to open, but then once in the pool it took me almost 10 minutes to actually put my face in the water. Once I did, I made it 400 yards, or ten minutes, and just got out. I wasn't feeling it. Not today.

Now this has happened once before, where I just quit the swim. But I have to say, terminating any workout sucks, because it just makes me feel like such a loser.

Moreover, this knee thing is nagging still from yesterday, and there is nothing more mentally defeating them waking up with the pain of the day before that you had hoped a good night sleep would cure. Not so much this morning. So I was already mentally out of the game as soon as my feet hit the floor of the side of my bed. Literally.

I am getting feedback that maybe I need to take a break, take a day off from the riding and running. And I could not agree more. But yet, that little M-Dot demon keeps yapping in my ear, "You can't stop now, only 58 days left - you want to finish this race don't you? An Ironman never quits and that's what your doing...get your ass on that bike and spin off some of those Starbursts you ate before bed last night!"

Why is it that I can't just admit I need to stop, take a break? The reality is that this training plan, which I adhere to 99.9% of the time (some strength sessions fall to wayside-oops) is tough on a body that has only logged a couple of marathons in her past. But yet it's almost like admitting defeat, or weakness to say, "Okay, no more for today." Do I fear I might lose some fitness by taking a day off? Am I worried that my coach might think I am whining and disapprovingly call my need for a break "another complication?" Is it that I fear quitting one training session will make it that much easier to quit the race? Is it all of the above? Yes, yes, yes and yes.

I think for today I might take someone else's advice outside my own, especially given that my own seems to get me in the most trouble. I think I might just take the day off, because with a five hour trainer ride coming up in a few days, I need all the rest I can manage. Thanks all for the feedback - I'm going to step outside my comfort zone and take it.


Duane said...

As they say, the body gets stronger and adapts during our rest periods. I wish I had taken more breaks, I mightn not have had such a bad ankle and shoulder! You will come back to your workouts refreshed and looking forward to them!

momo said...

megan - this same feeling hit me when i was training for imfl last year. i was done. D.O.N.E. done. it was a rough and rocky time, but my body was tired and so was my mind. you don't realize what a mentail stress this is for you - thinking about it all the time, worrying. i too, had to listen to those around me that told me to listen to what my body was telling me.

i know it's hard, you feel like you have to jam every workout in or you won't be prepared, but believe me - you will be. you'll be strong and ready and totally prepared come race day.

sometimes continuing with a workout when you're not mentally there is a good thing to push you though, and sometimes, you just need a day or so of rest to remember what it is you LOVE about doing this crazy sport we do.

hang in there.

Susan Oseen said...

Aww Megan...Yes you need a mental health day. I (like you) have a hard time taking them, but in the long run it does make everything better.
If I have a day that I am taking off from training, I usually fill my normal workout time with errands and stuff that I've been needing or wanting to get done for awhile That way when the end of the day rolls around it doesn;t feel so much that I've missed a workout, but that I just didn't have time. Mentally it's easier on me.

AZ Ironman 2007 said...

Take 2

Cindy Jo said...

If you think you need a break, then you do. Its like the saying: "If you think you're an alcoholic, then you probably are."

Honor what your mind and body are telling you. I was in the same place before my first IM. I could've blown the whole thing but I had a coach who made me take a weekend off, only 4 weeks out from the race! But it worked.

Anonymous said...

you will always be a winner Megan if you do the race or not. At times you push yourself to the point of breaking. So if doing this race means your a winner, I think you should look at the training you have done, for me the training makes you a winner not the race

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