I feel like it has been ages since I wrote. Time has flown by. Or it has been lost when *I* have flown by. That is one of the odd things that happens when I get jetlag – time kind of comes in fits and starts. I call it “riding the jetlag waves”. I ride on ups of adrenaline and surf the face dipping low low when exhaustion becomes overwhelming.
It is times like this that words escape me. I feel like I turn into a ranting loon. I am uncertain as to whether or not I am coherent or insane in my ramblings. Word paranoia becomes acute, as I travel for business and need to choose my words, phrases and tone perfectly when in meetings. Any energy I have for language is channelled professionally, leaving little for writing.
When words escape me, I feel like I have lost my writing mojo, and it’s like I just don’t want to risk writing. The last thing I want to do is have a blog that is “bitchy”.
It is in this jetlagged haze in which I have been living for the past month. I have been in the Middle East, Belgium, London, Japan and China. I have climbed aboard a flight one night, woke up the next night in a different city on a different day. I have entered some strange time warp.
And in this haze I have tried to train.
I guess the only thing that I can say is that at times like this, you really have to believe in your goals and dreams to make them happen. For me, it is my absolute conviction in training and personal fitness as a key to my long term health which keeps me going. This HAS kept me going.
I guess I can only do what I can do. I am slowly learning that it is just not possible to train the same way as I do at home when I am travelling for work. I am also learning that I just can’t train when I am tired. And I also can’t train when training displaces something else – when getting to a session elevates my stress because of the other things I have to rush through, or cancel, or miss. Stress and training do not work well together for me.
So, how have I done over the last month, on the training front? In general, pretty good.
I have started my core and strength training again – and this is making me feel much better about things. Rather than dreading the session and having it the first I axe when I have to re-jig my schedule, I’m learning it is a great session to do when I want to train but don’t have much time. The sets I am doing tend to involve using dumbbells, the swiss ball, lunges / squats, and of course the plank. I am still trying to figure out how to do some things comfortably with my elbow (I had my elbow rebuilt and stabilised in 2007 and I find the push up positions to be really uncomfortable and I learned that I just can’t do pull ups without feeling like I’m risking the joint). I really appreciated all the words of encouragement after my blog on how I was falling down on my core / strength aspect of training. I now feel like I have a lot of virtual training partners out there – a huge motivator for me!
I have managed to fit in sessions on exercise bikes. I have learned how spoiled I have become by using my bike outside or the spin bikes in the gym – I really don’t like the stationary bikes anymore. But the cadence counter on the exercise bikes have been a huge help for me. I am doing about an hour of “interval” type work on the bike once a week, and then a longer session is in the schedule which I try to do on the weekend (although I must admit right now this session often gets cut). I love doing the session in spin class on Friday evenings when I’m in London – this tends to be a time I know I will be able to hit. I let the instructor know I will do my thing, sit on the side of the room, and do pyramids of effort (such as 4 minutes at RPE 13, 3 minutes at RPE 15, 2 minutes at RPE 19 and 1 minute RPE 11, repeat) as the main part of the sessions. And when I’m travelling I just find the exercise bikes in the hotels. Amazingly on the road I have started to learn what cadence and RPM feel like – another first for me. I also discovered in Doha, to my pleasant surprise, that by following my training plan I have about 8 minutes off my 20km time (compared to my London triathlon time in August 2009). I realise this isn’t comparing like-for-like in “race conditions” but it shows that I have made steady improvement since May. Seeing and feeling improvement is another great motivator to get to the gym while I’m on the road too.
Would you be surprised that I have never run on a treadmill? I haven’t. Have walked on one, but have never dared to attempt to run on one. The surface scares me. I don’t feel stable on my feet at the time on terra firma, so I just avoid it. I would love to learn how to feel comfortable on the treadmill, but haven’t yet. So my attempts at running have suffered during travel, as I am not 100% confident enough in my running to want to just head out the hotel and run. So instead of my weekly run session at Weaver’s Fields (only once a week to build strength and until my foot pain goes away), I have been doing work on the elliptical. I am sure this has benefitted my foot, reducing impact while it is inflamed. I have been pushing myself harder and harder on the elliptical, trying to learn and understand my zones. I feel the improvement in my leg strength. My favourite session so far was on the 46th floor with a stunning view of Tokyo. The hotel gym can sometimes be hugely motivating!
Swimming has suffered a bit. Due to the work travel I have missed more swim training sessions than I care to admit (although my coach surely notices!). I love swimming and am sad to see my pool time slip. At the same time, maybe this isn’t all bad. It means I am forced to focus on the things I am not as comfortable with, exactly what I should be doing with my training time (focusing on the things I love less). I’m still in the pool when I’m in town – scheduled for 3 sessions a week normally, but getting in 2 on average. I do Monday technique and Tuesday fitness training sessions which my coach runs. The sessions provide structure in my training, and I enjoy the social side of swimming – they are geared to triathletes which means the pool is full of about 25 people with shared purpose. I’ve also signed on for the Winterswim challenge on Twitter being run by Tom Williams (who also writes for Triathlete Europe). Which means every two weeks I have to push myself at a time / distance and then see the results week after week. So I’m keeping swim motivated, even if my pool time has decreased since the summer.
So even with the hellish work schedule I’ve had in the last month, I’ve hit 3 sessions a week min and 5 sessions a week max. In 2007 when I did my first sprint triathlon, I got away with 3 sessions a week. Now I consider 3 sessions a week barely enough to maintain fitness. Amazing how I have made progress with my perceptions of what constitutes training. I’m getting back into running again, helped by the elliptical when I am not on the grass paths at home, hindered by a painful foot. My strength / core sessions are no longer on the back burner permanently. My bike understanding is increasing.
It hasn’t been optimal. Finding the time has not been easy. And training does not mix well with jetlag surfing. I struggle with my heart rate when I’m jetlagged and stressed. But I AM getting there.
Funny how conviction and dreams make the impossible seem doable.
Now, if only the power of conviction could result in someone creating an 8th day of the week – now that would really help me to fit in both the training and the sleep that I need after all this travel!