If the first step to recovery is acceptance, I have a confession to make. I'm burned out - both physically and mentally. Those of you who know me or who have followed me for awhile know how hard it is for me to admit this. I went from couch potato to Ironman in about 18 months and have been at it guns blazing ever since. I was the girl who'd get on the trainer at 10pm after a long work day just to log those precious minutes that everyone loves to post and brag about. I never gave up. Even when I tore my plantar fascia just days before my first Ironman I refused to take no for an answer and somehow willed my body and mind to endure an agonizing 7+ hour marathon because I never quit. I hate the word "can't."
But I've slowly discovered that I've reached a temporary limit and my desire to suffer and sacrifice for something that is no longer new has diminished. I couldn't care less about the hours and miles I've logged and almost never share it here or elsewhere. I place more value on enjoying the time I spend training vs. giving everything up to cram it into an already busy life. I don't stress or feel guilt over the many missed workouts I've had. On one hand all of that is good, but on the other it's not, because the fire I had to push me through this grueling sport is just about extinguished and the only way to reignite it is to take a break.
I recently shared my decision to withdraw from Ironman Arizona in November. At the time I thought I'd do the New York City Marathon, but the last couple weeks of training have made it clear I won't be doing that race either. Beginning September 12, I will be a normal person with a normal workout schedule, resting and recharging for however long it takes.
I don't think this burn out is the result of simply doing too many long races. I think it's from a series of poor choices I've made that might not have been detrimental on their own, but bound together became bigger issues.
Bad Choice #1 - How I handled my offseason after Ironman Wisconsin last year. I was going through a difficult time personally and wanted to escape. I essentially went from full throttle to nothing on the training front and ended up having such an extended period off it required starting from scratch.
Bad Choice #2 - The Los Angeles Marathon. In theory this seemed like a great idea, but in execution it was a disaster. We had one of the worst winters on record so training for a March marathon was pure misery. A slip on the ice caused a nagging groin injury that still hurts occasionally. In the extended recovery I was forced to take, I gained 8 pounds that have not gone away and have crushed my running pace and caused a host of aches and pains.
Bad Choice #3 - Signing up for two Ironmans without really thinking through the scheduling. I know myself and should have known I'd never be motivated to train long during fall, my favorite season. Having IMAZ on the schedule caused my IMWI training to be different and now that I'm only doing IMWI, I'm not as well prepared and it's causing a last-minute training frenzy that is exhausting.
So there we have it. I admit I'm burned out. I admit I need a break. And I'm looking forward to taking it. I have 10 more hard training days ahead of me and will get through it knowing there is a beautiful, bright light at the end of the tunnel. Instead of the NYC Marathon I'll be going to London with really good friends. Instead of Ironman Arizona I'll be spending a week in Italy with my boyfriend. The training for these events should be much more enjoyable than my previous schedule.