Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tired of being tired?

Sometimes, I wonder what all of this training stuff is really about.

This morning, I woke up feeling tired and old and creaky. I thought briefly about putting my bike on the bus and getting a ride to work. But, as usual, I put on my cycling clothes and pedaled to work. It's not a hard ride; it takes me 35-37 minutes every morning, and there is one big hill, but it's not that big a deal. In the evening, I ride another 45 or so minutes, with the ride split up by CrossFit. Those 75-80 minutes on the bike are way more fun than 2 hours in the car. And I have to think they are better for me and the environment than driving.

But, I was tired from CrossFit this morning. At CrossFit yesterday, I was tired from lifting on Monday. Monday while lifting, I was tired from hiking on Sunday. On my ride to work this morning, I was thinking about being tired. Maybe I was thinking about feeling old too, but that wasn't the main train of thought.

I really enjoy CrossFit. I like the improvements in my strength and my stamina. I enjoy the people I train with. I have no intention of competing in CrossFit, so that sometimes leaves me wondering "why?"

But, even if I was competing, like with running over the past 25 years, the "why" question doesn't go away. Since April first in 1985, I have made training of some sort or another a top priority in my life. I've race hundreds of times - road races, track races, trail races, triathlons, duathlons, relays. I've done running races from 800 meters to 100 miles. I've been elated at times and frustrated at others with the training itself and the races.

I've skied hundreds of days in the past 12 years. I've taught skiing for 300 or more days over the last decade. I'm always moving, always training, always trying to "improve". But, improve what? Why? When will I arrive and be done improving? And if I do arrive, then what? Do I just stay "there" until the realities of old age take me away?

If it's all about being healthy, I should place most of my focus on my diet and put less time into training. I definitely train (exercise - whatever) more than I need to for my overall health. If it's fear of being fat, well, that hasn't been a raging success. If it's to avoid getting old, that doesn't seem to be working. If I'm trying to stave off the effects of getting older, why do I feel old and creaky right now?

Why have I endured a torn ACL, numerous bouts of Achilles tendinosis, a rotator cuff injury, bike crashes, broken ribs (twice), broken toes, plantar fasciitis, and other assorted aches and pains all of these years?

I don't know if I have any answers to these questions. I do sometimes think about Bear Bryant, the legendary football coach. When it was time for him to retire, he recognized that fact and told everyone that the team deserved better coaching than he'd provided. He was asked what he would do now that he was retiring and gave a simple, seeming throwaway answer: "Probably croak in a week." In less than a month, he was dead.

Maybe that's what I'm doing. Training because I'm afraid I'll croak the second I stop. And, for the most part, it's fun. It's challenging. CrossFit is especially challenging because the goal is to constantly change things and force you to learn new things and adapt to new stimuli. It's not like training for ultras, where you can spend hour after hour doing the same thing, slowly building a huge endurance base. As soon as you think you have something down at CrossFit, they change the rules on you.

So it goes. I'm tired. I'm somewhat tired of being tired. And yet, I don't want to quit, or at least I don't think I want to quit. And I don't know why I don't want to quit. I don't feel ready to croak quite yet.

13 total miles on the bike.
10 x 2 sumo deadlifts at 275#, every minute on the minute
10 x 5 kettlebell swings at 53#, every minute on the minute
12 minutes, as many reps as possible:
10 band-assisted pull-ups
200 meter run
Completed 6 rounds, but the last 200 meters took me past the 12 minute mark


Harriet said...

Interesting post. I can relate albeit in a slightly different way. Over the past few years: rotator cuff (finally getting better), knee (doesn't limit me for less than 8 miles of running) and piriformis/back/butt issues.
At times, it appears that I spend more time on PT/prevention stuff than I do training!
I've also come to accept that the days of focusing on one activity are long over; it will be "run a little", "walk as much as the butt will allow", "swim as much as the shoulder will allow", and do yoga, PT and weights so I CAN enjoy those activities.
Note: I don't have MORE aches and pains than sedentary people my age; in fact I actually have fewer.

Jeff Farbaniec said...

Why? Because it's rewarding and fun. How you define "rewarding" and "fun" can certainly change over the years, but I think we all pursue activities that are inherently "fun" to do (like skiing) or provide "rewarding" results like health benefits or overcoming a challenge. Yes, you may be tired, but I know you won't be quitting. Good luck in the marathon, and how about putting up some photos from the Mansfield hike?