So I'm getting cozy in this new place known as "rock bottom" - I should get comfy, because it's where I'll spend the next month or so. Although I don't think it'll be as enjoyable as this sign makes it out to be.
My running has been on a steady decline the past year and a half, and I've continued to stack up the miles, push harder, do everything possible to beat my body into submission. Injury? Run through it. Hell, I'll run the entirety of the Philadelphia Marathon on a torn quad! Rest days? Hell no - not when other people are out there training. I need to keep up, increase mileage, and turn my running around.
I have my degree in Exercise Physiology, and I'm a very smart girl. If anyone with a history of mine told me this is what they were doing to get faster, I'd straight up slap them across the face. However, when its me that its happening to, the rules don't apply. That's the beauty of being an endurance athlete - a friend of mine said it perfectly: "lets be honest - to be an endurance athlete, you have to have a few screws loose".
In the past year I've worked with a fabulous coach, I've gone to PT regularly, massage therapy pretty frequently, and nothing seemed to be working. My times were getting slower, my body more tired, and runs were becoming harder and harder every day.
About three months ago, rock bottom showed up and welcomed me to it's community. We're talking stopping during 4 mile runs, breaking down in tears during every run over 6 miles, and paces that are WELL over a minute where I belong. Not hitting one interval during a workout, and a heart rate on an easy run that is flirting with Zone 182746. That's right, I even welcomed a new heart rate zone while being in community rock bottom ;)
My sisters, my best friend, my boyfriend, and many other good friends have all listened patiently to my venting, whining and crying. They've been there to pick up the broken pieces day in and day out. And last night I had dinner w/ a friend who is also a coach. She looked me in the eye and said "you're like an alcoholic who's hit rock bottom". She's 100% right. I've been pushing too hard for too long, and my body has had enough.
This whole "rock bottom" thing is ill-timed however; I have 3 more races coming up over the next 36 days. I have a very hilly 25K Monday, a 70.3 next weekend, and then the Chicago Marathon on October 9th. I'm Type A, and doing these races is simply not an option. That part is very black and white. The results of these races will remain a mystery, but toeing the start line is not an option.
I was given the guidance not to sign up for anything past Chicago. I need to take rock bottom and learn from it. I need to re-wire my brain and my body, and then come up with a plan for 2012. Is it to focus on long distance triathlon? Marathons? Some combination? I can't answer that yet - but what I DO know is that 2012 is going to be the year I actually start training correctly for me. I can't compare myself to the people running 80 miles a week, or those who run their mile repeats at 6:30. I can't freak out when I see someone out running on a scheduled rest day, that they're gaining fitness and I'm gaining inches on my hips.
I've taken the first step in acknowledging the problem, and now I have to do the very best I can to prepare my broken, tired, burnt out body, and execute these upcoming races to the best of my ability. Then when October 10th rolls around, I'm wiping the slate clean. Its time to clear my mind and body of everything it's been doing the last few years, and start fresh.
And take my word for it - when my body, head, and heart all line up eventually, I'll be back in this game stronger than ever, and hungry for some serious PRs.