Friday, October 20, 2006

Beat up, Tired, and Cross-training

sometimes i find myself asking myself "just what in the world i am doing?"

it's usually in the early morning, just after the alarm goes off and i'm staring bleary-eyed at the clock that says 5:15 am. it's also usually just after i get into the gym, just before it opens, and stand hunched over staring at my shoes in abject misery in the lobby, waiting for the 6 am opening. occasionally (on really persistently groggy starts to the days), it'll happen just when i get to my locker, and i'm staring at the contents with a blank, empty, utterly confused gaze of utter dejection.

and when it's really bad, it'll happen in the afternoon, just after lunch, as i lay in a spot taking an afternoon snooze, and i stretch a very sore, very tired, very stiff, and very unhappy body into a teasing snippet of a long languorious sojourn in the neverending comforting land known as sleep that i did not get enough of the night before and that i so desperately wish i could have lingered just a little longer in. yeah.

invariably, this question is accompanied by a moan. not for any reason. i just find moaning seems to be a very good, very succinct, very easy, and very comforting answer that i can give myself to the existential angst of the morning training schedule. besides, it pretty much expresses what i'm feeling, making it mildly cathartic that way.

of course, i don't really know if it's a moan. sometimes it's more a whimper.

so just what am i doing?



i tell myself that the alternative is to sleep in and then wake up and face the daunting prospect of driving to school in rush hour traffic...and in LA, that's just not even something a person ever wants to think about.

i tell myself that it's the only time i have to train, given that i'm working 2 jobs (3, if you count this other pesky annoying irritating one), taking classes, and trying to finish my PhD dissertation. all of which leaves my days full. so it's the 6am morning workouts and 6pm evening workouts, or nothing at all.

i tell myself that it's the best quality time in the gym. it's practically empty at that time, and there's more than enough space to get in the swimming pool, stationary bike, treadmill, weights, or exotic mixture of all things without having to worry about waiting in lines, asking if equipment is available, engaging in conversations, or avoiding poor behavior and manners. by the afternoon, it's a raging meat market and cattle call perfectly suited for zero training and zero development.

still, for all that, sometimes i find myself staring off into space, wondering just exactly

i suppose it's the burnout factor. you know, the state you get into when you've had too much of something and not enough of nothing. when you've gotten to the point that training has become more breaking and less recovery and no building.

part of it is the body being overworked by workouts with inadequate rest time in between. part of it is the mind being drained by the focus and concentration needed to push through fatigue and exhaustion. a lot of it is the monotony of doing the same things over and over again, with everything it entails--overtraining, repetitive motion injuries, boredom, muscular and mental imbalance, distraction, loss in enthusiasm, loss of interest, loss in dedication, loss of motivation, loss in a general desire to do much of anything even remotely connected to following anything even remotely resembling a training schedule.

at points like this you're supposed to back off. rest. chill out. and if anything at all, maybe do something different. work out different parts of your body and your mind, give yourself a chance to get refreshed and renewed.

that's why the prescription--if it isn't rest--is almost always cross-training. technically, triathlon is cross-training, since it encompasses 3 other disciplines: swimming, biking, and running. which is why the sport is seen as giving the body a balance and variety between the training for each event.

but sometimes you're so beat up that so tired from the same damn things that you need something way different...and i mean WAY different.

following my own advice, i've recently picked up some activities that are pretty different--or at least, different enough.

what have i chosen, you may ask? well...believe it or not: kung fu and surfing.


that's right.

kung fu.

and surfing.

and if i get adventurous enough, maybe kung fu surfing.

the kung fu i've kind of always had an interest in since i was a kid, but i never seemed to have the time or energy or money to take classes. i also see it as being useful in terms of self-defense (although, it's becoming very clear to me that it takes a little time before you get good enough to actually use it effectively as self-defense). more than that, i can see how it relates to improving my performance, since it seems to incorporate development of breathing, energy generation, efficiency, and recuperation--all things that i need more of.

you can read about it. i started a blog, since it seemed appropriate:

the surfing is another thing i've always had an interest in. it just looks cool. and i figure that there is absolutely no excuse for anyone to be living in a place like Southern California and not know how to surf. seriously. and i figure it's a rough equivalent of a "light" swim workout, still gets me out in the ocean, and helps me work on my core muscles, sense of balance, and overall physical coordination.

although, i'm finding surfing is a lot harder to pick up than it looks. i've only been out once, but i wiped out a whole lot more than i managed to catch waves...this is going to take some bit of practice to get used to.

i'll have to let you stay tuned.

i'm not stopping the triathlon training--dude, i'm too neurotic and obsessive compulsive to do that (i mean, after you've worked your ass off to get into shape, there is no way you ever want to have to go through that kind of suffering you find yourself unable to go a day without wondering if you're missing out on some training you need to be doing or losing some conditioning that you do not want to be letting go). but i am probably going to cut back on the triathlon training volume a least until it starts time for the next Ironman (which is IMAZ next April).

regardless, i needed the change. i needed the break. and i'm just going to chalk it up as cross-training.

of course, i'm still asking myself "just what am i doing?" every morning.

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