Wednesday, January 11, 2012

An "Epic" New Year's Weekend?

I make a point to appreciate where I live every day. I'll walk across the the street to the beach for a quick chill-out session to take in the fresh air and sights even if for just 10-15 minutes, and I'll also head over to catch some breathtaking sunsets. January has been exceptional...
So far that's been the theme of 2012: In a life that's always go-go-go busy-busy-busy, I make sure to 1) appreciate the small things, and 2) take breaks and rest when necessary. I got a good dose of #2 in particular on NYE weekend....

In the past I've been known to do an epic workout on January 1 (well, after my SDSU days that is). This year I had the same thing planned. The BF and I took a last-minute NYE trip to Paso Robles for some bike riding, wine tasting, fine dining and relaxing. I had visions of this perfect weekend in mind... so you can only imagine what really happened: That perfect weekend didn't happen! No, the BF and I didn't break up or anything extreme like that. And no I didn't get too drunk off wine and make a fool of myself.

Instead, my body decided it had had enough exercise in the past 2.5 weeks and decided to shut down. It was crazy. I've only reached that point of "breakdown" a few times. It's during these "lows" where the best lessons are learned (I'll get to that soon). As an aside, in this recent episode, the breakdown was not a result of chronically overtraining. Nor was it a result of too much too soon. I've been gradually building bike/run mileage even before I started with my coach, and lately we've been seeing how much I can do. I'd been going strong, loving each session, and the miles just kept getting easier to lay down.

On Thursday before NYE weekend the signs surfaced that rest was necessary. I finished my run that morning feeling abnormally tired, depleted and drained despite good nutrition, etc. I bagged my workout the next day in hopes for a rebound over the weekend. So Saturday, in Paso, we headed out on a long route that I'd mapped out prior. Body. Didn't. Respond. It's like my body just said, "F you, head back home and chill out." I fought the urge with my "epic" weekend in mind thinking I'd be able to break through that feeling, but it wasn't happening. I was sad. There may have even been a tear or two. Poor BF, right? But how often do we get to ride on uninterrupted roads in beautiful wine country?! Never!

The breaking point on the ride was when I was not able to climb a hill that otherwise would have been cakewalk on any other day. I decided it was time to cut it short and head home. The total ride was a fraction of what I'd planned and I was pretty emotional about the situation. But what are you going to do?

After a very mellow NYE celebration (what I would have preferred regardless of my situation) on January 1 there was the opportunity to yet again ride some epic routes. But I knew better and took a rest day. Although upsetting at the time, in a way I was happy with my start to 2012. I'm a smarter athlete. I know to listen to my body, and when it really needs rest, I'll give it that rest. I didn't try to push through and still ride, which I know would have set me back further -- that's how chronic overtraining begins.

You might be saying, "Well wasn't it dumb to push yourself to the point of 'breaking down' in the first place?" I argue: No.

First off, it was an acute episode. The tiredness hit Thursday, I couldn't push further after that so I rested, and I was back to my normal self by Monday/Tuesday-ish.

Secondly, this is how good lessons are learned. It's important to find your limits in training, safely. How do you know what you're capable of doing unless you try? That said, I don't think it's smart to continually push the envelope and dig yourself into a state of extreme fatigue over and over and over, but I do think it's important to push your body, figure out your limits and then work with that for future training. Next time you'll probably be able to go further and smash old limits! This gets tricky, though, and you have to play it smart, aka rest is a vital component to the equation. In my case, for example, we still followed up my "dead weekend" with a recovery week. And, ya know what? I'm more than 100% back to normal now and training like I should be.

Anyways, that's my epic New Year's for ya :)

The good news is, I was still able to get in a little wine, a lot of delicious food, some epic sleep and quality time with the BF....

(First four pics from Thomas Hills Organics restaurant in Paso, a must!)
(Ahi salad and sweet potato fries -- fries were my comfort food after the epic fail bike ride -- at Pier 46 Seafood Market in Templeton, another must)
A stop at a cool winery
And a "joke" food... sort of (still tasty in my opinion)

Here's to a smart and safe year of training & racing!


  1. Happy New Year! Glad you are feeling more like your old self. Getting almost to the point of body break down but realizing it means you're smart. If you don't get to that tipping point then you're probably not reaching your potential. Finding that point helps for future training.

  2. That's a great lesson. I keep digging my fatigue hole hoping it will somehow get better. Good thing next week is a rest week?

    You were smart to shut it down when you did. Happy new year!

  3. Train hard, race easy.

    And I love me some brussel sprouts but I am not sure I could stomach frog balls.

  4. Happy New Year! Glad you're feeling better.