Wednesday, January 14, 2009


i have a strange, ambivalent take on training breaks.

from one perspective, training breaks are good. they give your body rest to heal up, recover, and replenish itself, wiping out injuries and recharging your energy reserves. they also provide mental relief, ending the monotony of regular training cycles and easing up the effort involved on training focus (and i have found that you do--no matter how much you don't think you do--have to focus) in regards to things like workout schedules, recovery schedules, nutrition schedules, swim form, bike form, run form, power output, energy input, course layout, and jobs and bills and families and friends and random strangers you meet on the street (even though you definitely don't want to).

but from another perspective, they're bad. they give you a taste of the good life you've been missing.

like the comfort of showering and shaving and cleaning your teeth, knowing that you'll stay that way.

like the sensation of being able to walk around (slowly), or sit down (easily), or lie down (whenever you want), without being grumpy, cranky, tired, or sore.

like the ability to sleep in, and lounge around in bed, and ignore the early morning alarm as you feel the deliciously pleasurable satisfaction of throwing it against the wall.

like the feeling of being able to just do whatever you want, wherever you want, whenever you want, as long as you want without any thought of the next workout on the schedule.

like the satisfaction of cakes, pies, cookies, scones, eclairs, tarts, ice creams, gelatos, butters, creams, fats, mashed potatoes, creamed casseroles, pork chops, BBQ, pot roasts, fried chicken, fried fish, fried greens, fried fruit, stir-fried, pan fried, whatever fried or sauteed or baked or boiled or steamed decadent offensive sinful profane pagan heathen forbidden illegal outlawed but oh-sooooooooo-good (as in: if-this-is-bad-i-don't-want-to-be-good good) food item you've been denying yourself but very much dreaming thinking obsessing lusting after all this time.

like the realization that now that you've had a little of the good life, what you really want is a whole lot more.

add to that the fact that any training break--especially a long one (i.e., a real one)--invariably means a time period that exceeds any semblance of a recovery period and reaches far into an atrophy period. that is, you lose your fitness.

which means that whatever mountain you had to climb up to get to your state of physical fitness, you're now going to have go right back up again.

which means going back up the same challenges, hurdles, burdens, worries, fears, anxieties, neuroses, psychoses, paranoias, phobias, and assorted related physical and mental and even downright spiritual pain and suffering and torture.

and yes, it was self-inflicted before, meaning that it will be self-inflicted again, meaning that it will be that much worse, because you'll be constantly asking yourself: why? why, knowing how bad it was the 1st time, why would anyone do it again? the only answer is the questioning of your own sanity, which can only lead to the Pandora's box of existentialist angst.

which is why i struggle so much with training breaks. part of me knows i need them. part of me is happy to have them. but part of me dreads them. part of me fears them.

because i know what happens when they end. and they always some point, you look in the mirror, and you see just what a pile of pathetic putrescent protruding porkish corpulescence you have become, and your vanity takes over, and you think to yourself it's time to get off your fat lazy blubbery ass and get your butt in gear.

but then that's when you get to deal with the reality of what you've become and what the break has left you, and what you now have to work out and wipe away:


and that's exactly what i've got now.



Sladed said...

I visit you blog hoping to read something inspiring or interesting, or something with a different, thoughtful perspective. I am frequently rewarded with your little masterpieces.

I dreaded breaks as a teenaged competitive swimmer because I thought they were unnecessary and they sidetracked me temporarily from my goals. Rest and recovery were not understood the same way as today.

With a perspective that came from coaching swimming back in the day and now training fom my first 70.3 and IM I have the same thoughts as you on taking a break.

When the break is over and you have to climb back on that horse, it can be daunting. You know what it's like to be something of a Joe-average couch potato.

If you're just trying to get back now, ease into it and think about the joy of being in incredible shape. Don't rush, keep the pressure of for a little while, and build back up. Muscle memory and the fact that your body has experienced this before makes me believe that, even if you are "totally" out of shape, it won't be as big a mountain to climb as it was the last time.

I don't always leave a comment but I do read. Thank you for your little masterpieces.

(Your word verification this time was "ammess"!)

jonathan starlight said...

thanks for the kind words, mate!