“Never give up, and be confident in what you do. There may be tough times, but the difficulties which you face will make you more determined to achieve your objectives and to win against all the odds.” – Marta
I’ve been debating on writing this post for a while, it’s raw, honest with things I’ve been struggling with for a while. With the honesty of so many of my teammates lately, they’ve inspired me to write about it. Things are always so easy when they go right – when you’re hitting every send off, over the prescribed watts at a lower effort and running is effortless. That’s not to say even when you are fit, things just hurt, it’s just sometimes easier to hurt. That’s what we’re training for, to embrace the suck, learn our limits, am I right? Triathlon is not easy and the fitter we are the more it seems to hurt to reach that next level. Most of the time, I thrive off that pain.
I’ve always struggled with depression – since I was in middle school (there’s more about this too but that’s for another post). It runs in my family and at some point in my HS days I figured out running mostly helped it. Fast forward to college – first semester was my first stress fracture. Besides being new to college, still emotionally dealing with my Dad’s heart attack and getting my first running injury, I was a complete wreck and the one thing I knew would make me feel better I couldn’t do. I remember my new friends (at that time) were so supportive (they probably thought I was crazy.. it was only 4 weeks on campus) and my coach had a chat with me I remember to this day. He said I needed to find something else to identify to, that Lisa as a runner was ok, but Lisa only a runner was not. Needless to say, I tried and had NO idea what he really meant. I still don’t even today in my 4th year as a triathlete I still classify myself as a runner. Side note: I think this is also when I developed my love for coffee.
After numerous other injuries, including another stress fracture, I came into my senior fit as ever, running 60 miles in 6 days and lightest since HS. It was probably the only time I felt confident in my appearance and my running – and I ate whatever I want and was even conscious of getting extra calories in (a beer a night – I was 21). Then I got hurt (go figure) – I was utterly devastated, I kept competing that fall because I felt that was the right thing to do with the team and my coach made me feel I was needed as I was only Senior. Once the season ended, the tendonitis (we think) cleared up almost instantly and sure enough I was back to being super fit. I pr’ed in the 3k during indoor track, and then bam the same thing happened, injury number 2 of the year (I ended up having three injuries this year). This is when I was really depressed, started losing hope and looked to control what I could. I started restricting because that was what I could control, and if there was any hope of being fit for outdoor (in my mind) that was the way. Eventually, my college boyfriend figured it out, probably because I was so moody and cried at everything, and threatened the only thing that could help me snap out – tell my mom. I made it through my senior year, and needless to say, running and I broke up my first year after I graduated.
Fast forward a few more years, I was happy to be running, and was feeling good. I ran my first 13.1 (and a few more after), I was close to my 5k PR splits, and even ran a sub 19 5k off no real 5k training. I got my third stress fracture – the next day, I signed up for my first Triathlon, our local one, the Cayuga Lake Triathlon. I loved every second of it. I was completely hooked. Triathlon has helped in a LOT of ways. It keeps my demons at bay, sometimes more than just running; I get to work hard in three different disciplines. Triathlon has helped me to be more at peace with myself, most of the time. I’ve gained 15 pounds since the fall of my senior year of college – and I know its muscle and I’ve been healthy.
Fast forward to where I am today – my biggest struggles: 1) all of my run workouts are considerably slower and 2) I struggle with my body image and my weight.
Both of these demons butt their ugly heads when I feel training isn’t going right, note: I said when I FEEL. I’m sure training is going fine. I swam one of swim workouts the fastest ever last week. My cycling is coming back, and running is fine. BUT it’s the mental aspect. This sport is hard, the balance in this sport is hard, something I’m still constantly learning and applying to my goals. I had a great race at Chattanooga 70.3, but I would be lying if I said I was 100% happy. My biggest goal of the day came up short, WAY short. Then to be honest, Syracuse 70.3 was a complete clusterf*ck in my mind and I came up short again. The following weeks I struggled with wanting to finish the year, I still trained after a few days off, because that’s all I know. From a young age, it seems all I’ve done is be active, plus there are those demons above.
Failing at both goals it hurt, a lot – my heart was (and is a bit) very heavy. You give so much to try to achieve your dreams. I started a new job in the middle of training – have been working a lot more than anticipated. If you know anything about me, you know I don’t do well on not a lot of sleep and I’m not the best sleeper. The early AM wake up calls, then long hours (some shifts are 11 hrs with drive time) and turn around to some nights with 2 workouts, dinner and straight to bed. I applaud all of you out there who have crazy schedules. I know I chose it, and I wouldn’t change it but it’s so much easier when you’re willing to do it to achieve the dream. My dream fell short not once, but twice this season (now my season isn’t over but still, it’s hard to go 10 months straight).
So it brings us back to present – I’m struggling, some days are better than others. I’m still finding that utter determination, waiting to start feeling fit, to not get frustrated with how slow (compared to my college days) a runner I am, and find the drive to dig deep. I know it’s in there, I see glimpses some days. But for now, I keep chugging along.
And since that’s a low, here are some happy pictures:
As always – a big thanks to the companies who help – Coeur sports, BT Nutrition, DRINKMAPLE (FriendofHolt – for 15% off), Honey Stinger and my always supportive and loving family & friends.