July 9th, 2015 by Will
Well it’s been an interesting and un-expected end to this first part of the year that’s for sure. I knew that things were not going well for me this year for some reason. I felt like my training was going quite well, perhaps quite inconsistent but on the whole I didn’t see much problem with my fitness. Which left me and my team baffled when I was posting results like 30th in Dubai, 8th in Lanzarote Ironman, 4th in Staffordshire 70.3 and then a DNF in Norway 70.3. Coming from someone relatively consistent, that’s a bad start to the season!
You’ll usually blame this on your training and race form. If you’re strict with yourself you’ll knock off a race or two and take a week off to freshen up the body before building back probably with even more effort then before!
After Norway 70.3 I wanted to cancel my plans to race in Bolton Ironman, I just couldn’t imagine the idea of getting around that race. Ironman isn’t a joke. It’s a massive investment mentally and physically and you have to be ready for that. I wasn’t there anymore. On my last session I went running to Bradgate Park. I was trying to do a 2hr build run to kick my arse back into shape after 2 days off post Norway. I ran out at 15kph average which is solid I guess and after 15k’s I got to Bradgate, sat down for 20mins and then walked all the way home! On that 15k walk I had a lot of thinking time.
When I got home I spoke to our Psychologist we’re working with. Told him about my run, and my feelings that I had been having and he told me straight away that I’m approaching athlete Burn Out and I need to take 6 weeks off which is what it takes to recover from Parasympathetic Overuse.
I’ve done the Triathlon for 14 years, been competing in sports for 22 years. I take a month off at the end of every year but never have I had a break in the middle of the season when it feels like really there is nothing recognisably wrong with me! Certain personalities are much more likely to get burn out. I invest so much of myself into Triathon and I have done for so long. I freak out a lot if things are not going like I want (ask my family). In Rudy’s words I need to let go of the self critical complex and perfectionism.
I’m not writing this because I am looking for attention (ok maybe a little bit, everyone loves attention;). Lots of people came to me after my Facebook post who felt that they could relate and find comfort in my experience and I wanted to share to everyone.
I’m lucky that I get to work with a great psychologist. There are not many out there and even if you wanted to work with one you’d probably struggle. Burn out is certainly way more common then you can imagine in Triathlon. I’m sure with work, family demands and trying to keep motivated for sport burn out will happen to almost all of us but you probably won’t realise it and keep pushing on till you crack. We got into this because we love it and it’s fun, if you’re struggling like I am then I encourage you to take a big step back, do something different and I promise you you’ll come back stronger then ever.
I’m not frustrated about this. Of course it sucks for 2015 but I know this is a great investment for the future, I’ll never win big in this sport unless I take a step back now, re-charge and re-pair. I know what some time away can do for you and I’m 100% confident I’ll be back better. I’m looking forward to getting some blood work done by my sponsor Indurance who’ll profile my blood and we’ll work to get back to 100% before the end of the season.
Thanks to my team Uplace BMC for supporting me in this decision, my family, Mark Pearce for scratching his nuts over this for ages and friends for support.