(Part 1 of 2)
You’ve been so focused for months, maybe even years with your endurance training – waking up early, eating right, hitting your personal goals and having a great time in the process; but, for whatever reason, you have had a severe lack of focus, which has been spiraling out of control for weeks and months now – you’ve lost your motivation to train. And you’re concerned that you’ll never get your endurance mojo back, not to mention your physical prowess. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Stop emotionally beating yourself up about why you haven’t wanted to jump on the bike, lace up those shoes or snap on those swim goggles in the last few weeks or months and let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of what’s really going on with your pysche.
Injuries Have Brought You Down
The unforeseen injury. We’ve all been there, especially us more “mature” endurance athletes. Due to this injury, you’ve been out of your training regimen for weeks, maybe even months, and you’re going insane. Yes, you could follow what the physical therapist or doctor has told you to do, and maybe you are, but even if you are, it’s not as fun as zig-zagging effortlessly through trails, feeling like you’re going Mach 4 downhill on your bicycle or swimming as smooth as a dolphin with every flip-turn you make in the pool. And now that you’ve lost some of your speed and/or endurance, which you worked so hard to attain, you are slightly depressed on how you will ever get it back.
Solution: While it is hard for any athlete, at any level, to come back from injury, athletes do rebound from physical trauma all the time. You need to have more patience with yourself and this process. If you do trust your physical therapist and/or doctor, then follow the rehab regimen he/she has been giving you. Bring that competitive spirit you have out there on the roads inside to your rehab sessions. See if you can lift more, walk farther, balance longer, bend deeper, etc. than you did the previous week.
Pressure to be as Fast As You’ve Always Been
You’ve hit some amazing times on many courses and you’ve trained your ass off to get there over the years. You might be that “local speedster” who when people see you at a race think – Oh, she’s here – she’s fast! And while that is extremely flattering to get such praise from your endurance peers, you also feel like you HAVE TO perform at a top level every time you step up to the line. This pressure you’re putting on yourself has almost paralyzed you lately. You are not looking forward to any of your training like you used to. This has become more of a job than something you do for fun.
Solution: Give yourself a break. I mean really take some time off from your sport. You may be a bit burned out from racing so much and at such a high level. All athletes have an off-season, where they recharge their batteries. When was your last off-season, if ever? I’m not saying don’t run, swim or cycle (which would be fine, too, by the way), but go for a run without a watch, ride through some beautiful countryside or trails without hammering it and do some laps in the pool without eye-balling the clock. Or maybe cross-train with some other activities that will keep the heart-pumping but are far enough removed from these endurance areas: rock climb, tennis, basketball, volleyball, weight lifting, martial arts, dance lessons, kick-boxing, boxing, etc.
Embarrassed by The Way You Look Now
You’re in that horrible place. Not too long ago, you were a lot fitter than you are today. You were leaner, fitter, stronger and had an overall positive aura coming off of you. But, you’ve let your training slip for both good and bad reasons over many months and now you are embarrassed by the way you look. You don’t feel comfortable getting out there with those extra lbs, but you know you need to workout and train to get back to your former glory.
Solution: Pssst…let me let you in on a little secret…While maybe good friends or training partners will see that you are not as fit as you once were, if they are good friends, then they’ll love you and support you no matter what. And for people you don’t know…who the hell cares what they think! And while I know we all have our insecurities when it comes to our bodies, most of the time those negative thoughts are more in our own head than in others. Believe me, everyone loves a comeback story. And if you were once a fit endurance machine and now are a little wobbly in some areas, people will be in your corner as they see you getting back into shape. Find some good friends to train with who will support you in your “comeback trail”; and if you don’t have friends to train with than hire a trainer who will be in your corner to get you back to where you want to be.
I’ll finish up tomorrow (in Part 2) with some other reasons why we get into the endurance doldrums.