Thursday, June 21, 2007

back to basics (or, racing destroyed my fundamentals!)

yeah, well, i've come to the conclusion that racing destroys my fundamentals.

it's weird that way. you'd think that races are the main events for us to showcase everything we've learned and trained so hard to obtain, and that as such they'd serve as the finalizing capstone to a training cycle and another step up in athletic progression. you'd think that after a race we'd retain everything we displayed on race day, and build upon it on our growth to smooth-running idealized sports machines.

but it sure doesn't seem that way.

if anything, it seems like everything just goes to hell in a hand-basket (with the baby going out with the bath-water...).

i've been making my way back from IMAZ this past April, and in the time since the race have been gradually nursing my body back to health and reclaiming all the expended fitness from that race. it's been a bit of a struggle, but somewhat easier--and faster--given that this is the 2nd time i've done this. i knew it was going to be a little hard, both physically and mentally, to recover and then get myself back in the training cycle, but i figured if i just kept to a solid training regimen that everything would come back on its own.

well, it's turned out to be not quite everything.

the fitness is coming along. that is definite. i'm hitting 8 mile runs with reasonably moderate effort, and i project that my customary 10-mile trail runs aren't too much farther along. ditto for swim and possibly bike.

the form, however, is not coming along. if anything, it seems to be atrophying. or at least, persists in being woefully non-existent.

by form i'm talking about technique. as in about conforming to the usually standardized schools of thought as to what makes a good running form, good swimming stroke, and good cycling motion. as in being the pleasure of every coach, the admiration of every other athlete, the object of worship of every mortal on the street. as in being, in short, sexy--or in Muhammad Ali's vintage parlance: "pretty."

my run, in particular, seems to have completely disintegrated in the wake of Ironman. i noticed it recently while running along, and realizing that i could hear my footsteps as dull, solid thuds galumphing along the trail. usually, if you're running right, the footsteps should be barely noticeable, should feel light, and should have an air of smooth rhythmic propulsion forward. instead, my running form was, in the words of another competitor i met at IMAZ, "like an old warhorse" (meaning running like a clod).

i was so horrified that i checked my swim stroke and cycling form, and found to my shock that they'd deteriorated as much as my running. my swim stroke had gone from being a hydrodynamic aquatic wonder (or so i thought in my dreams) to being a churning paddlewheel. my bike form had gone from being a bio-fueled perpetual-motion spinning machine to being a leg-powered potato-mashing kitchen grinder.

ugh. not graceful. not beautiful. not at all sexy, and most definitely not pretty.

so we all know what this means...

back to the basics. back to the fundamentals. to regain the technique that i've somehow lost.

which is why you've all probably noticed my recent surge in posts on proper running technique--it's been on my mind. as has the swimming and cycling.

i'm wondering if what happens in a race (or after) is that our minds expunge themselves of all mental concentration and energy, and so once the race is completed and we claim our rightfully earned recovery modes our minds then follow our bodies and just completely shut down, vaporizing whatever mental control we might have subconsciously developed during the training cycle to control our technique. perhaps our minds are subconsciously in their own recovery, and thereby simply not recharged enough to restore our idealized racing form. this would explain the post-race disappearance of my form, and would also promise its return given the proper progression on a training regimen.

who knows.

all i know is, i'm in training, it's the meat of the typical outdoor racing season, and i'm having to go back to the basics to bring my sexy back (oooooooh, yes, i know, Justin Timberlake reference, so bad, so sad, so sorry, so sorry, it was just too easy to ignore...quoting the line from My Fair Lady: "so horribly deliciously low." but i won't do it again--or maybe i will. whatever.).

racing destroyed my fundamentals.

and the solution is back to basics.

1 comment:

A - Low said...

I have faced a similar issue.
I always reap more from training than I do from racing. Every time.

I've entered a new job, and training has suffered. Whereas, historically, I would train in the AM and PM. Now its just pounding out distance in the PM. So I'm a bit perplexed to say the least.

Basics help us return to that sense of freedom though. The innoncence before all of the biomechanical analysis, 4:1 ratios, and the active release therapy.

In any event, I hope your basics return swiftly.