Unhelpful Cycles

Should I Stetch?

Unhelpful Cycles

So I’ve been a bit quiet of late… Like everyone else, I’ve been struggling with the challenges of homeschooling, lockdowns and endless cycle of bad news and anxiety. I’ve been thinking: I’ll get going again once kids are back in school. I’ll get going once the weather warms up a bit.

But it’s Friday and I still have no desire to do any “work”. So I’m writing down some thoughts instead.

Identity Crisis

So one of the reasons I’ve been really quiet is because I’ve been having an identity crisis, of sorts. A lot of my identity is wrapped up with being an athlete. And lifting heavy stuff. And pushing for more. Harder, faster, stronger, longer.

But over the last weeks I’ve realised that this identity has had me wrapped up is some really unhealthy behaviours. Some really negative spirals. And if I’m honest, it’s been going on for a while.

Because the striving for harder, faster, stronger, longer can quickly become a spiral of not hard enough, not fast enough, not long enough and not strong enough.

It first come to me when I recorded this video. Playing it back, I realised that I was not following my own advice at all!

The signs were easy to spot in hindsight. A minor shoulder issue had been plaguing me since December. Poor sleep. Poor energy. Days fueled by coffee and lazy carbs: biscuits, chocolates. Low general activity levels. Feeling tired all the time but not sleeping well.

And crappy conversations in my head.

  • Not fast enough, therefore I need to train more.
  • Not lean enough, so I need to cut out all carbs. Which of course lasts 3-4 days before the fatigue and cravings means that I binge on a mountain of crappy carbs.

On and on it has been going.

(Wondering if I’m ever going to post this – it’s hardly an example is it!)

Anyhow. I tried to rationalise it, to reason with it. In the original video I recorded, I talk about a third scenario “What if you’re training for Performance”, in which I try to argue that my previous answers don’t apply if you’re training for performance. Or if you’re training like me. (You might be able to tell where I’ve edited it out.) But once I say them out loud I couldn’t buy my own arguments. Because whatever your level, you MUST give your body time to recover. Arguable, the harder you train, the harder you should recover.

So I finally had to shut my ego up and listen to what my body has been trying to tell me for a while.

That my training hasn’t been working for me.

So I’ve been a bit quiet because I’ve been feeling a bit lost. So much of my life, my training, socialisation is wrapped up with being “a jumper”. It was hard to unravel it all. And figure out what next.

But I’ve started. The first thing I did was get a new coach who is helping me to untangle all the messed-up spirals that I’ve got myself into.

So far so good. It’s amazing what having an external viewpoint can do! Sometimes the conversation goes like
– Me: I felt really good after this mornings session. Shall I add another set?
– Coach: Stop being an idiot.

or

– Me: I’m feeling good on energy levels just now, shall I drop a meal?
– Coach: Stop being an idiot.

or

– Me: Last week’s training felt good, shall I add in another day?
– Coach: Stop being an idiot.

 

So where am I going with this? I guess it’s this:

We all get stuck in stupid, unhelpful or negative cycles….
We are probably blind to these cycles, or we argue them away…

E.g. I know that carbs are not bad and that there is no reason to ditch them, but I created my own reason: “I’m sensitive to carbs.”

E.g. I know that a weights session shouldn’t be more than 60 minutes long but I created my own reason to justify a longer duration and add in more and more shit in. “Power training has longer rest periods so it’s OK”.

There may be some warning signs. You might be feeling stuck. Or feeling that you want achieve something but we can’t quite get started at it. Or you might be feeling that things will be better if only…

But there might be a little voice inside your gut telling you that you’re on the wrong track. So listen!

As for me, it’s early days, but for the first time in months, I’m feeling “better”. I don’t know if / when I’ll go back to athletics. But I know that this phase of my fitness journey still needs quite alot more work…