Sustainable Development – An Athlete’s Persepective

How time flies! Apparently it’s been over a week and a half since I landed in Phuket, and my body can certainly verify this.

After taking several weeks ‘off-season’ in Sept/Oct, with minimal physical exertion, just enough to keep the legs ticking over, training in Phuket has certainly been a shock to the system. Especially in the swimming department, where 20 km weeks are suddenly the norm. But how can I complain? I’m absolutely loving it, and every session is a challenge to me.

In fact, this is proving to be my biggest downfall. I’ve been told in other areas of life that once committed, I go for everything headfirst and just plough on, so it’s clearly my personality. I make everything a challenge, even a run that has been clearly labelled a ‘recovery run’. Everything at full throttle.

It’s been laid out to me, and is something I know I’ve got to learn to control. Yes, intensity is good. But ONLY intensity will be debilitating and potentially deconstructive. Key sessions are key sessions, recovery sessions are recovery sessions, and each should be respected as such.

Coffee - a temporary yet delicious solution

Coffee – a temporary yet delicious solution

I’ve studied environmental sciences, so I should now that development must be sustainable, be it of a population or an individual. Currently, as humans we are developing in an unsustainable fashion: way too fast and beyond our planetary boundaries. I know this about the extensive system of the Earth, but it’s becoming more clear to me day by day how the same rules apply to my personal system: I must progress within the realms of your body and environment, otherwise I may “overshoot and collapse”, as predicted in Limits to Growth (1927).

For an athlete, the biggest threats of collapse are injury and exhaustion, both mentally and physically. It’s hard maintaining the same enthusiasm and energy, especially when sessions get hard, the legs get heavier and you are feeling more and more lethargic. Those are the first signs of overshooting, and you know you’ve got to reign it in to avoid collapse. Maybe take a rest day, regain perspective.


Cycling with Z-Coaching – the only brief recovery period in which I could take a photo.

Hard to say no to swimming when this is the view.

Hard to say no to swimming when this is the view.

So thank you to everyone at Z-coaching for welcoming me this first week, it’s truly been heart-rate rising and legs-a-spinning. I can’t believe how lucky I’ve been to be able to train alongside (well behind) pros preparing for IM Langkawi, as well as everyone in the training group, being pushed to new limits. I look forward to the coming months!

Imo xx

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