Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mental fatigue - can someone massage my brain?

Are there self help groups for over-extended triathletes? If there is, I imagine it would go a bit like this...

"My name is Scott and I am a triathlon addict".

"Hi Scott". 

"My wife sent me here today because I drift off over dinner thinking about which power-meter to get, which sessions I've missed and planning where I can squeeze it in, what races are coming up, have I prepared everything for the morning's ride, have I done enough training, do I have any gels left, and wondering whether it will be a wetsuit swim at Luke Harrop". 

"I also spend more time shaving my legs than she does, am passed out on the couch by 8:30pm, take up half of Saturday training, eat like a horse but go halves in the shopping costs, complain about niggles and strains, wake her up at 4:45am when my alarm goes off, and when I am asleep snore like a rhinoceros with a cold". 

Crazy creatures us triathletes really! Ok, so I have no intention of giving up triathlons or finding a group of people to help wean me off my addiction. But I often find that towards the end of the season (like now) I tend to get caught up more in thoughts like these and feel drained, rather than pre-season when I am consumed more by the excitement and enthusiasm for the training and racing process. Over the years I have become more mindful of what's happening 'upstairs' (rather than the kangaroos that are loose up there) and can now recognise triathlon mental fatigue

It happens to us all, earlier for some than others, and what we do when it happens will have a big impact on our performance, satisfaction and life as a whole. There are 4 options that you can take:
  1. Leave - get away from it all for a while and do something non-triathlon.
  2. Stay at it  but change some things that are in your control to add some fresh variety - new training group, try a Zone 5 windtrainer session, get a new toy like a Suunto Ambit, etc
  3. Stay, accept that you are feeling this way, and remind yourself of why you enjoy this sport - it is important for you to keep challenging yourself? do you value good health? do you like the competition? do you value being organised and structured in your training regime?
  4. Stay, do nothing, and make things worse by being ineffective and getting further into the hole - prepare for injuries, arguments, and bad attitudes if you take this option!
With Race 7 of the Gatorade Series (Luke Harrop Memorial) this weekend, option 1 can get scratched, and option 4 is unappealing. So I'm going with an option 2-3 combo. For example, on the weekend ONE HD screened the Sydney ITU race live so I set up my bike on the Windtrainer in the lounge room and spun away while I watched the likes of Erin Densham kick some butt! Something different that motivated me to knock out some time on the bike.

I am also reminding myself of the importance of this race - it is a tribute to the value of life, the passion of age group racing and above all the importance of embracing each moment with family and friends.  Luke Harrop sadly passed away 10 years ago as a result of a tragic traffic incident while on a morning warm-up ride. 

From the USM Events website:

"While Luke was an elite athlete one of his great passions was age group competitors who he had a great affiliation with and heavily invested his time into helping. He just loved being amongst it all and why the Gold Coast Triathlon – Luke Harrop Memorial is such a fitting legacy to him".

"His generosity, huge personality, forever smile and his strength of character is something that his friends still reminisce about often. He had the world at his feet at age 23, an engineering degree, Australian junior team member for triathlon and several sporting achievements under his belt and most importantly to him Cleo Bachelor of the Year finalist ... he was only just starting to show what potential he had", Russell, Rebecca and Loretta Harrop.

So I am looking forward to the weekend of racing and getting amongst it once more. I must admit, I am a little worried about whether or not I have the speed in the old legs as I have been doing a lot of longer, slower training in preparation for the Ironman race in Cairns. I may have to pack a tow-cord and attach it to someone's bike so they can pull me along!

Best of luck to everyone racing. I encourage you to take a moment to remember why you do triathlons, congratulate yourself on all of the hours of training you've logged in over the season, and embrace the day as a reminder of enjoying the moment rather than dwelling on yesterday or worrying about tomorrow. 

See you out there :-)


1 comment:

  1. Good post! There is so little information on this and an overflow of information on how to go faster using products and training techniques (which are good and bad and right and wrong). I think more information on this would be great. The burnout rate in tri's is high and information such as this in fact can almost guarantee us to go faster due to leading a more balanced lifestyle, being aware of what we're doing this sport for and appreciating being so athletic when others aren't so privileged. Thanks again!