All training cycles have their ups and downs. Week five feels very much like a down. Between my period arriving (it likes to make itself known, cramps for days) and some creeping anxiety which led to a day in bed everything has felt like more of a struggle than I’d like. Every run has been a huge effort, hauling myself on to a treadmill, sticking my headphones in and getting through it. When my mind isn’t in a good place it’s so much more of a challenge to motivate myself, runs I would’ve looked forward to turn into a chore and the idea of leaving the house to train has literally no appeal. It’s frustrating. It’s a big difference to last week, when I felt strong and happy with how things were going. I guess you can never get too complacent.
Monday - 30 minute recovery run - such a surprising run, although my legs were heavy and I didn’t feel like I was running particularly fast it turned out I was totally smashing it. Really happy with this run.
Tuesday - my period starts and I am in an insane amount of pain. Spent the day in bed hooked up to a TENS machine. No runs for me, I could hardly walk.
Wednesday - double day - really easy 30 minutes (not feeling amazing after yesterday) followed by 10x10s hill sprints on the treadmill. Generally felt pretty good, but the hill sprints were tricky on a treadmill (there’s no down hill setting!). Second session - 30 minute progression run, totally unmemorable.
Thursday - crazy busy day with work, and a uni seminar just for fun so ditched my run and did 20 minutes strength training with a resistance band. My butt hurt afterwards.
Friday - I’d intended to do two sessions today, but woke up so flat and disengaged I ended up sleeping most of the day. Anxiety is a bitch.
Saturday - hill sprints that made me question whether my coaches actually like me - 8x75s hard efforts followed by 8x30s hard efforts. Nearly fell off the treadmill.
Sunday - two 45 minute runs, both on the treadmill, both serious mind over matter because they were so dull. Treadmill runs are tough, I always feel like my pace is so much slower than it is on the road which is so frustrating.
So how do you get out of this situation? How do you get back to feeling like yourself and getting your training mojo back? This is a place I’ve been in before, and these are the things I’ve learnt work for me at one time or another:
talk about it
When you bury problems they become so much worse. Talk to someone you trust about where you’re at, share your experience on social media (trust me, you’re not alone in this one and people will make sure you know it). Write things down. Just get the thoughts out there, it helps you to process what’s going on and work through it.
switch things up
Really not feeling the run love? Switch things up. Go to a class with a friend (accountability, will make sure you leave the house). Quit the treadmill for a WattBike. Change your running route. Hell, have a dance! Just do something different.
don’t sweat it
It can be easy to worry about missing a session or your pace not being where you think it should be. This is going to sound flippant, but one or two missed sessions because you’re struggling in other ways won’t be a game changer when it comes to your performance, but it might make all the difference to where your head is at.
change the tempo
Got a training plan full of intense sessions? These sessions increase cortisol - the stress hormone - so while some movement can be really good when you’re feeling down, really pushing the tempo with high intensity workouts could backfire. Think about switching out runs for walks, vinyasa yoga for restorative yoga and HIIT for LISS until everything has calmed down.
This last week has been tough, but that’s ok. This tricky period will pass and I’ll be back on form, after all things can get better as quickly as they decline, and for now I’m going to be gentle with myself, move in ways that feel natural, rest and get myself back together with support from my family, friends and coaches. This blip isn’t going to change anything, I’m still going to be there for my team mates to take on the desert, we’re still going to own those miles and bring our A games.