Who is Ted?

I'm the father of two beautiful daughters and an amazing wife. For fun, I enjoy the long hours of seemingly endless suffering that endurance sports (mostly running, cycling and triathlon)provide. During my "down time" I'm an avid beer snob and self-described gourmet chef (in other words I like to burn things on a stove or grill).

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Feeling a bit off during the "off season"

For the last few months, I've been taking it easy.  With no races to train for and a mountain of work that's included a lot of weekend time, I've continued to exercise, but it has been very irregular and unstructured.  I've been much better at extra slices of pizza, sampling craft beers, and seconds on dessert.  With the onset of winter, I can see my super-fitness from last July getting buried in the snow.
I think this is a common challenge for many athletes as we struggle between the need to take a break sometimes, and the fear, anguish and stress caused by training less.  Endurance athletes are hard-wired in ways that are in direct contradiction to relaxing and taking it easy.  We thrive on training cycles that involve short term/ long term goals, structure,  and regimen.  Even the most "zen" focused athlete has a healthy dose of Type A coursing through their arteries.  Endurance athletics is beyond a hobby or a pastime, it's a lifestyle.  I don't know if it defines who we are so much as it's how we express the nature of our personality to begin with.  So, to step away from these things for a time each year seems foreign and unnatural.  Triathletes seem to deal with this in many different ways, some better than others.  A few folks continue to train year round, and many others pursue other activities at this time of year.  The truth is, there isn't really a good answer that fits for everyone. 
This fall has been particularly difficult in that regard for me as I feel unbalanced by the "off-season."  A number of times I've returned from an enjoyable Sunday run brimming with best intentions to stay consistent and get more workouts in during the week.  Before bed, I'll set out my running gear convinced that I will get up and run before work, only to find them still waiting again the next evening.  Or, I'll carve some time out between the end of work and dinner so that I can jump on the trainer for a short 30 minutes.  Instead, I walk in the door at five-thirty, grab a beer out of the fridge, and take it easy. I'm trying to keep perspective on this, reminding myself that I don't have to be training, but it's definitely a struggle, and I wrangle with feelings of guilt and frustration for not doing more.  I know in my heart that I will never let myself go completely, and I'm already plotting which marathons, triathlons, and bike rides I might do in 2013, but it's making me a little crazy.  I need to find balance and I need to learn to deal with this whole "off-season" thing differently.
During the last couple of weeks, I've decided that I do need some goal during the off-season.  The "on season" is quite a ways out, and if there isn't something on the near horizon, I get a little listless about the whole thing.  Last year, I participated in a Winter running Series, which kept me active and helped me to maintain some training.  At the same time, I was dealing with some minor injuries, so I had a great reason not to train as much.   About two weeks ago, I signed up for a local half-marathon that takes place in early December.  I have no intention of "racing" this event, but I'll use it instead as a piece of "off season" fitness, and a chance to work on my base.  Having something to train towards has injected a little more motivation into my outlook.  I've created a humble, very manageable training plan to get ready for the half.  It consists of only three workouts a week (including one long run on the weekends), but it's enough for now. 

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