Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What Meltdown #1 Of 2012 Taught Me

Ah the highs and lows of training.  :)

After the high of Saturday's solid training (finishing with the Postal Swim) and of being SOOOO close to finishing off one of my biggest weeks yet (actually, it was more than a week, so let's just call it a "block"), the low of Sunday came.

Yes, my first meltdown of 2012.  :)

Before I started working with Dirk, I never had any training meltdowns.  This was likely a result of not really being pushed to discover new limits.  Last year I had about 3 or 4 meltdowns.  A meltdown for me ALWAYS involves the bike.  Yes, that innocuous piece of carbon fiber knows my number at times!  :)

Sunday training started off awesome.  I had a long run on my schedule and did almost all of it with Oscar feeling strong the entire run.  I ran over 19 miles, which I haven't done since Kona (and it could be debated that what I was doing for the last 10 miles of Kona wasn't really running per se...).  I was excited about Sunday's run because, after struggled with running long the past couple years, it is VERY nice to really start to notice a difference in my strength over the past couple weeks/months.  I certainly have a long way to go but any progress forward is progress worth celebrating.  

After the run we ate, showered, stretched and napped.  This is the perfect scenario.

Yet looming over me was my last workout of the week, a 4 hour trainer ride.


Four hours on the trainer in and of itself is not a big deal.  I've done it many, many times before.  But it was the 19+ miles of running in my legs earlier in the day that was going to make it tough.  I knew it wasn't going to be pretty but after learning my lesson the day before about setting myself up for failure before I even started, I tried to go into it with a positive outlook.  And also with the understanding that even if it didn't feel great, the objective was to get 'er done.

That worked for about 2 hours.  My legs felt pretty rough but hour #1 went okay and I hung in there for hour #2.  At which point I started to notice a rather distinct drop in both power and HR.  As in I couldn't quite get that HR up over 120.  Ohhhh baby.

This is when it would have been REALLY good to be outside and 2 hours from home so the only solution was to keep pedaling until you got home.  But unfortunately I was on my trainer, already in the comfort of my home and it was toooooo easy to quit.

At 2:20 I got off my bike.  Calories.  I NEED CALORIES!  (even though I had been taking in calories and didn't need any, I was grabbing at straws).  I laid on the floor and ate a PayDay bar (yes, it's true they still make those and yes, its true we actually had one in our house).  I laid there for a while thinking through my options but unfortunately, mostly thinking up reasons why I shouldn't continue (ie: What the point if I can't get my HR up above 120?  My legs are so toast at this point, it couldn't possibly be of benefit.  I don't want to dig a big hole for myself.  Blah, blah, blah...)

I texted my coach but he was out riding himself.

And then I came up with a plan - just ride for 30 more minutes. 

So I got back on my bike but OH MY did my legs protest.  Like they were REALLY unhappy.  Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. 

And so after another 10 minutes of riding with my HR near 110, I got off for good.

Meltdown #1 in the books.

Let me just say, I HATE not finishing workouts.  I know, I have to listen to your body, blah, blah, blah.  I totally understand and get that.  If I am hurt or sick or about to harm myself, I understand that I must be smart.  But I was none of those and I don't have any races coming up to be concerned about.  No, this was more of a mental failure - a "I'm really tired and sick of this and I hate everything and I'm just DONE" kind of situation.  Not physically done, but mentally done.  And the same can be said for my meltdowns last year.  While I do a reasonably good job of working through most low spots in training and racing, I clearly still need some work in this area.

I knew I should have continued but I didn't.  After discussing with Dirk it was confirmed - that workout at that time, was very important to finish.  Major fail.  Not how I like to operate!!!

Yet it probably taught me more than any other workout this week or this month.  My inner voice of "never, ever give up!!" still needs to be developed.  It's easy to look back on it now and think through it when my body is recovered and feeling better and I'm not hungry, sore and tired.  But I need to be have that Never Give Up Voice in the heat of the moment as well.  Like at mile 20 of an IM marathon. 

I'm thankful for Dirk because he didn't give me an easy out.  He never has given me one.  I suspect that's why he's a good coach and is a great athlete himself.  He was positive in the fact that he encouraged me not to be too hard on myself - it was a week/block that I probably couldn't have even attempted last year - but he was also resolute in that I MUST continue to develop a certain mental resistance to fatigue that will allow success in a race as tough as Ironman.  His quote: "you hired me to make you fast at Ironman" to which I wanted to scream "WHY, WHY, WHY DID I DO SUCH A THING?????!!!"  :)

And so now I'm chomping at the bit to get another shot at polishing off a big block from start to finish.  But unfortunately I have to rest, recover and let my body soak in the hard work first.  I'm inpatient!  But luckily I won't have to wait too long - soon I leave for SC where I'll be devoting the majority of 3 weeks to training and training alone.  Here's to no meltdowns (and outdoor riding where I don't have the option of quitting... :).  GIDDY UP!


  1. Oh my gosh! I have had so many meltdowns, I can't even list them all ! If we are not pushing the limits - our own expectations - then we will never have meltdowns...but I have them and ironically usually on the BIKE TOO! I have thrown my bike MANY TIMES outside....and, while I have never done a 19 mile run + 4 hour trainer ride....I have done some crazy crap and it is such a hard thing to figure out what to do!!! NO worries....sounds like a great block! Enjoy SC for some great training and SUN!!!!!!!! And riding outside (What a concept!).

  2. Good to know you are human! You learn from each meltdown and I've no doubt that you are stronger as a result of Sunday and something inside you won't let it happen again.

  3. I really like the QUITTING IS NOT AN OPTION mentality you and your coach are working on. Clearly, it sometimes just doesn't happen, but you have to make it through all the hard training to make it through the hard races. Have fun in SC!

  4. 19 mile run AND 4 hour trainer ride in the same day!? I am exhausted just thinking about it. Days like that will make you stronger physically AND mentally for sure!!

    I've obviously never attempted anything like that, but I can commiserate on meltdowns, and I hate, hate, hate those seconds/minutes of self-doubt and deciding whether to keep going or bail.

    Have you read Iron War? I'm about 1/2 way through right now and I think it has some good insight/info about how huge the mental component of training/racing is.

    Also, if it makes you feel any better and/or provides comic relief... at least this meltdown was in the comfort of your own home, and did not involve sobbing uncontrollably halfway through a century in the middle of rural West Virginia, in the company of the Dirty Dozen founder, a teammate & 3 guys you'd never met before, because you kept getting dropped from the group. That was my Dec. meltdown :)

  5. That sounds like an awful day. Maybe just the inside biking part. I am sure you would have been fine outside.

    I sometimes think you people are a bit crazy, but realize just different. If it pays off on race day than worth it!! :)

    Good luck on your next hard block!! :)

  6. Good job on doing your best and hopefully Dirk keeps pushing the envelope of your best to expand further and further!

  7. You are such a strong/hard worker. And totally believe you did the right thing. Your body needed REST, which is just as important as following the workout plan. You are a super strong girl!


  8. Great post Beth, been there done that, own a couple t-shirts. It's why we keep coming back for more.

  9. I think I had a meltdown of my own just thinking about a 19 mile run and a four hour ride on the trainer. :)

  10. Not that I'm a super amazing athlete like you are, but it always makes me feel better to think, well, yes I had a meltdown, but now it's over and it didn't happen in a race. Phew!

    You're an amazing athlete Beth!

  11. I think this is my favorite post ever. I totally feel every second of what you went through! (except in my case, with far less training stress than the week you just put up- kudos!!)
    I think one of dirks big tricks is making us mentally tough so whatever pain you encounter in a race is NOTHING compared to what you had to endure on x training day (in this case, this past sunday). I have a feeling this will be the first of many challenges to come as you further test your limits, so remember why you are doing this and hold that close to your heart so when it comes time to suck it up, you can try to fall back on that!!! easier said that done- I think I would have sat on the couch, eaten the payday and stared at the bike all set up on the trainer without ever finding the courage to get on and even start the wko :)

  12. love, love the voices in your head. we have all felt the same way, I imagine. These are such great days, though, because you learn and you care and you will push harder next time. (although I am not sure how you could push are killing it!!!!!!) xoxo thanks for being real!