I went into this 8 week offseason with the intention to take a break from structured training, do a lot of yoga, and be ready to jump into training again come November. The first two are in progress, and as of this morning, the third looks like it will happen too.
In the last 5 weeks, I’ve taken more of a break from structure than I have in recent memory. I’ve trained at an as-I-feel pace. Or more accurately, I’ve exercised. Training has a target; my goal was just to keep the machine moving. I’ve gone biking with friends, stopped for coffee mid-ride, gone easy and gone hard just because I could. I bought a cross bike and will try it on an actual cross course this weekend. Probably before the race, without a bib number, but you never know! DFL beats DNS?
I’ve done a lot of yoga, and it’s been nothing short of amazing. In my first few classes I found myself anticipating the poses, thinking about how much time there was left, as if I could change it if I knew. Then I started to let go, just move and breathe…and the classes started to fly by. Or maybe I started to fly a little; there are times I felt like I was dancing. Like I let go of the little marionette strings that hold me too rigid and realized I could move on my own.
I pulled a chest muscle, let it heal. I quit chewing gum and just ate when I was hungry. I’ve listened to more music and less news. I haven’t logged workouts. I watched the debates and just let myself be nonplussed. I let myself fall just a little head over heels, let myself crash, and got back up.
Yoga is powerful in that it asks you to face yourself, and doing it 5 times a week is not always easy. My mind can be chattery and not always constructive; it can be frustrating to hear the chatter even when I know it’s just that. But I’m learning to listen more to my gut than my head; anticipate less, calculate less, trust more.
So I’ve been putting off making my race schedule for next season. I’ve truly enjoyed racing these last couple of years, but I wasn’t compelled by a constructing a schedule like I have been in the past. I’ve been spending less time planning and more time doing, and I like that. There was a time that I needed training to be a treadmill; I needed something to pull me out of bed, set me in motion, and then propel me again from the end of the workday until couch time.
But I don’t need that anymore. Amazing as it is, I’m learning to love the spaces in between destinations. I don’t need to feel busy to feel purposeful. I don’t need to feel fear to find motion.
Less control, more trust.
So I went swimming this morning. My swims over the past month have been really short and really easy and really slow. Today’s was not as short, not as easy, but still really slow. I wasn’t trying to swim fast today, but it’s still a little depressing to see a pace slower than my easy pace a season ago. So…maybe it’s time to dig in.
My bike power and speed are still lower than before my accident. I’m far healthier, but dagnammit, a little more speed would be nice. And fun.
So the fire in my belly is sparking up. The race plan is coming, this weekend, and base training will start in November. I’ll stick to my heart rate zones as much as I can, do my workouts, and see what I can build. But I’m going to let it be fun as well as work. I like building a base, watching my fitness ebb and flow and gradually build. I like working hard, being spent at the end of a workout, even finding that place where the legs just don’t want to start up. Finding those limits is a kind of fun, too; it’s what I originally fell in love with about triathlon.
But this season I’ll also stick with a few yoga classes a week, some skiing this winter, some workouts with friends, and generally a little more looseness. Less preparation, more action. Less sitting by the pool waiting to be ready to get in, more just getting in. Less living in the future, more living now.
Less control, more trust.