Friday, January 09, 2009

Lost: Motivation

(Written Friday...posted today on Sunday)

My motivation seems to be lost and I don't even know where to begin finding it.

One of the worst things we can do as athletes is to compare where we were during our peak of fitness to where we are during the height of winter off season. Yet we do it anyway. Bree seems to be fighting it, too. She felt so crappy about her performance during training camp because she knew she could do better. But at least she's AT TRAINING CAMP! She is getting it done!

Now I seem to be in an even worse phase, comparing what my former motivation used to be. After arriving home this afternoon I was all set to head up to the Airport Club to get a swim in and it never seemed to happen. Instead my afternoon was spent on the phone with my good friend Alice (which was a very good thing because one of my New Year's resolutions is to stay in better touch with good friends), searching out a good recipe for dinner, running an errand, and, well...that was it. Now I'm writing, enjoying a beer and waiting for dinner to be done.

Not that I did nothing today. In fact, I did wake up at 5:00 a.m. to teach spin and do some ab work afterward.

Moments ago, however, I lamented what my 'old self' would have done. "Last year you would've gone for a run after that spin. You would've gotten your butt up to the club to get that swim in. SARAH, HTFU!!!" (for anybody who doesn't know..."Harden The F*** Up" is what that stands for)

Now that life is back to the grind, my desire to get myself on track seems to be lacking. Finding the energy to pack my bag, think about dinner for later, know that by the time I'm in the pool it's 6 p.m., then out of the pool at 7 at the earliest, and showered and back home around 7:30, hopefully I can throw something healthy together by 8:30, sit down to eat, and still be in bed by 10 for tomorrow's bike ride - UGH!

There is no doubt in my mind that just about every triathlete out there is all too familiar with this routine: Wake up early, get the workout in, go to work, get the second workout in, try to eat a healthy dinner but sometimes don't sit down to eat until 8:30 or 9. Try to digest and get to bed by 10 or 10:30. Do it again the next day.

Yet even though I've taken more than enough time off from it all, I still feel burnt out. Tired of doing that. Essentially, I've been doing THAT for four straight years. With, of course, some break during winter, etc.

Does this mean I'm not hard core? Does it mean I suck? Does it mean I'm sick of triathlon?

During my time off over the holidays I spent a lot of time thinking about all of this. I did a lot of spinning, cycling and yoga. I did a little bit of running. I did some swimming.

Swimming is a whole post in itself. Last month I took three weeks completely OFF from swimming, something I haven't done in the entire 10 years I've been doing it. Now the issue is whether to stay with Santa Rosa Masters or join Wine Country Masters, which is affiliated with the Airport Club where I teach - hence, it's free. Why pay to swim with SR Masters, right? But WCM doesn't really have times that work for me, unless I want to give up my Tuesday evening track workout with the Empire Runners. So then I face the issue of either doing track workouts on my own (yuck) or swimming on my own (also yuck).

Maybe that's what's really got me down. Schedule-wise, Santa Rosa Masters swimming worked, so long as I could get my butt out of bed in the mornings. And when I needed to, I could do it. But Wine Country Masters only has practices at 11 a.m. every day (it IS the Airport Club, after all...back in Berkeley we used to call the 11 a.m. practice the 'Country Club workout'...ha...) and Tu/Thu at 6 p.m. I like evening swim. But I also love Tuesday Track.

So trying to nail down a good schedule has been tough, to say the least. Not having a masters team to call home has been tough. Missing workouts left and right because I simply throw my hands up in frustration has been tough.

Yes, it's time to stop whining and figure it out. But it brings me to asking what I want to achieve this season and I just can't seem to nail that down with so many emotions and thoughts running through my mind.

I feel sad that I don't desire to swim the way I used to (ultimately I think it goes back to the social aspect of masters and the friendly competition that I enjoy so much).

I feel bummed that I can't quite love running the way other people do. I really, REALLY want to love running!! I wish I could take an ounce of my love for cycling and put it into my desire to run.

That leaves cycling, which, between weekend rides and now teaching spin 3x (moving up to 4x/week in Feb)/week, I still love it more than ever. And yoga. I've been doing more yoga than I ever have in my life and I can feel it changing me. My body and my soul. I'm back to stretching before bed. I begin to crave yoga. So maybe it's just a sign that I'm ready for change. Maybe it's time to slide swimming and running to the back burner for a little while?

Before I started triathlon, I wasn't sure if I could even really run 10K. A half-ironman seemed like such a faraway goal. Now I know if I wanted, I could do an Ironman for sure. But lately I think about things in terms of cycling - double centuries, races, possibly crits...and I think of yoga - handstands, arm balances, the challenge of staying focused and centered...

...and with that (now that it's Sunday morning), I'm off to get a run, swim and some yoga in. Eventually, some clarity will arrive. And I'm sure that when it does, the motivation will be right there with it.


dan said...

you'll figure it out. i haven't been able to find a run or swim group that i can fit into my schedule, so i am stuck doing both of those alone. it's not so bad. HTFU ;)

p.s. i'm dying to hear about your ride!

Holly said...

I think the thing to do is to not beat yourself up over it and do the things you WANT to do. Because the day that ALL exercise isn't fun anymore is not a good one. I mean, I'm loving running these days but I WISH I had the love for cycling that you do! Grass is always greener, you know?

Kelly said...

find a schedule that works for you is really tough (especially with masters swim workouts) but once you do you just do the schedule and once you start doing it, all the motivation comes back.

but, if you're not having fun, whats the pt, try some cycling races, etc. do some other new fun stuff.

Maggs said...

I'm with you the lack of motivation...but mine is for cycling...I wish I had some desire to ride, but I don't. The thing is I know that when I start riding I get faster and it's easier and then it's fun, but until then I put it off so much.

I know a lot of people who have taken time off from tris to just ride. Some come back, some don't. Nothing wrong with that.

KGS Bikes - Kevin Saunders said...

Since you are already off schedule, consider a complete inventory. This includes the time spend vs the improvement in every sport. You may need to fix a lot of things to make it work, and you may need to look outside your network to get the expertise you need.

I cannot speak for running and swimming as cycling is my focus, but I also suggest you find the best fitter you can to get you comfortable and efficient on the road bike and the tri bike.

Finally, consider getting the road bike out and learing how the bike racers do it. You will be amazed at what you bring back to triathlon when you get everything synchronized.

Good luck!

rocketpants said...

It is a tough delimma but I try to approach a lot of training with "do what you love, love what you do". Granted i'm not the *super* focused on AGing or really any of it...but at the end of the day we age groupers don't get paid to do this. It should be fun. In fact it *must* be fun.

Actually what I *hear* in your post (if I can read into it a little bit) is more that you have a case of the 'should's' almost sounds like you feel like you *should* WANT to do these things, but you don't and that is what you are being hard on yourself about. But sometimes we need change. What's wrong with becoming a hard core cyclist and a yogi who might venture into the pool every now and again?? If you love it you will do it. Anyway...enough rambling out of me. Good luck. It is a good time of year to reflect and just think about what YOU want with this next season. Not what you think you should want.

Rainmaker said...

I'm with you at this point of the year on lack of motivitation - especially for swimming and cycling. There's just something not-so-enjoyable about going to the pool and still being dark and cold when you get out.

On the running, one thing I do to keep up motivation is schedule little races here and there (10K-10M) to help carry through my motivation for wanting to do well. Plus, i run with a running group - which I found makes all the difference.

rr said...

Crap. I just wrote this essay and it disappeared. I hated swimming, then after two years of doing it I went all in 5 days/week. And after a month I started to like it. Same with cycling last year, just got to hating it. Now I'm doing it 5-6 days a week and starting to enjoy it again.. maybe you should go all total immersion on the running?

Good luck finding the right pool.. and your mojo. Three weeks off is nothing! I've taken 3 mos.. really hard to go back!

D said...

Hah... we really are going through the same thing, hey?
Well, how bout I move down there and we get our asses in gear together? Got an extra bed? :D (I'm only sort of kidding, by the way!)

jameson said...

thanks for the heads up on this post... this is exactly what I am going through. I can definitely relate to everything you wrote. It's a first for me, being so unmotivated, but I am dealing with it.

I took all of decebmer off of swimming and just got back in last week. the break was needed. I think the bottom line is you need to do what is going to make you happy and not bring a lot of stress to your life... whether that's triathlon, running, or cycling.

Training for triathlon is tough... and after 3 years I am ready to dial back a bit and train more for running and moutnain bike racing. I think a change of focus can be good.