Friday, 26 May 2017

Why I Sucked Pt. III - What Made me Improve

Short answer: Because I was healthy.


Longer answer:

Consistency breeds results. Results breed confidence. Confidence breeds consistency in one's methods, I guess. It's like a positive feedback loop. When you're on a roll, it is hard to falter and lose momentum. Think of it this way: when are you most likely to get injured? Maybe this is only true for me, but I always seem to deal with minor pains and strains at the beginning of a training cycle. When I am fresh off a week or two of rest and trying to ramp up mileage or intensity is when my body is more likely to reject the change in training load. Most times, when I make it to the middle of a season with a clean bill of health, I cruise to the end without problem.  I've learned that if one finds a way to begin each season building off the past one without interruption, success, or at least improvement, is likely. That is how I improved over the past years. That is how I ran PBs. But, it is rather when the cycle of consistency breaks, that I leave things to chance.

I let the cycle break after taking nearly 3 weeks to recover after the U Sports 1500m this year. Don't get me wrong: breaks are necessary. But, they have to be done properly. Following this break, I may not have spent enough time in the gym strengthening, or I may have committed errors in the way I tried to ramp up my training load again. It has since been hard to find consistency, results and confidence again. This time, things have not been going my way. A foot problem carried over from indoor season. After taking care of that, my left foot starting hurting again, at a different location. After missing patches of training, I was able to get over this problem and run healthy for 8 days. They were great. But that was not the end. As I write, I am sitting on my porch in downtown Halifax, my abode for the summer, with my legs in the air. I have two icepacks in my vicinity. My summer job starts next week, and my regular training sessions ended last, due to a still-undiagnosed hip annoyance. After a hectic end of school year when running was being balanced with thesis work, classes and senior/graduation events, I now have plenty of time on my hands, and I'm trying to find ways to make use of it. I am very frustrated for two reasons.

1- I decided to move to Halifax for the summer to join Halifast Athletics, in the hopes of running PBs in the 1500m and 5000m, and ride a new fitness to big races such as Senior Nationals and the Canada Games. Though this hope is still well alive, these past two months have done little to reassure me. Other than a strong string of workouts in mid-May, training has, like I said, been spotty. One small injury substitutes itself for another, while I helplessly chase physiotherapists and chiropractors between my rolling and icing sessions. Being injured is being injured, and everyone goes through it, but this timing sucks. I elected to move away from my family and friends on PEI, and away from part of my crew in Antigonish, NS, to blindly move into a new house in a new neighbourhood. At the time of my decision, I still had no job. Put simply, I came here to run. After using my last month at St. FX to have fun and enjoy myself a bit more than usual, the mindset was completely shifted towards running. I wanted to see what would happen if I trained and lived like a professional athlete. Halifax would give me the facilities and 1500m training group that would enable me to do so. As well, moving into a new city would help me escape distractions. For the week I was healthy, things were going smoothly, as planned. I love the training group and environment, as I expected I would. But now, I cannot run, and I am questioning this entire decision.

2- I think my frustration also stems from the fact that I've become spoiled. I was blessed with a clean slate of health, as of late. Since 2015, I was able to compete in every AUS championship and even represent my school on the national stage, after missing my first three AUS races due to anemia and other injuries. I may be the only AUS distance athlete who has medalled in every conference distance championship race thus far in 2016 and 2017.
2016 AUS 1500m - 3rd
2016 AUS 3000m - 2nd
2016 AUS XC - 2nd
2017 AUS 3000m - 3rd
2017 AUS 1500m - 1st

Not because I was better, but because I was on the line and healthy on every occasion. None of my teammates can say that. All had been held back by an injury or burnout at some given time in these last two years. So, maybe this is simply the Regression to the Mean phenomenon in effect. Everyone has their turn. Who knows, maybe this is my turn to be out for a while. The hope that this injury is simply a short term thing like all the others I worked through in this last month, is what keeps me going. That being said, it has been difficult to suck it up and hit the stationary bike after having been away from it for so long. I guess this test is one of discipline.

So now, I'm trying to get myself out of this brooding state of mind. I did not compete for Team PEI at the last Canada Games, and a big goal I set for myself was to be competitive with the best when 2017 came around. The Games are romanticized on PEI, and become a big deal for us. It represented the end of a cycle for me - the end of my undergraduate career. Now, the chance that I make it to the games in peak fitness is shrinking every day. I am trying my best to believe that there isn't a good time to be injured, and that I am not cursed. I could have been hurt for my final XC or track season at St. FX, and that would have been no better. I guess I am writing this to remind myself to stop overthinking about my helplessness over what is to come. We all do it, but it's useless. All we can do is try to maximize our potential one day at a time. I am doing my best to get back on that consistency, so that I can reach a new height, so that I can keep improving. That being said, hitting the shitty Dalplex bikes in 10. See you around.



On a more positive note, I want to take this opportunity to send a few birthday shoutouts.

1- (May 26th) This guy is funny and smart and is doing a masters next year to escape the work force so he can have more time to work on his rapping. Happy birthday Scott!

2- (May 26th) This girl is a brilliant, soon-to-be teacher whose excellent taste in sushi is only rivalled by her taste in men. Happy birthday Ellen!

3- (May 26th) This was going to remain a St. FX thing, but I see it's Roman Run Justinen's birthday too. This guy runs fast and can grow a beard and sometimes sends me snapchats. Happy birthday!

(No photo available)

4- (May 27th) This girl's name is Booty K. I miss her and I still don't know her real name. She means business. Happy birthday!