2017 lesson #1: Listen to your body

2017 has begun. In fact, we’re well and truly into it. I couldn’t quite believe how February had snuck up on us. Mainly because it also meant that my first race of the year has also snuck up on me.

This weekend I will be racing at the Bangsaen Thailand Tri-League race in the “Master” distance: 1.5km swim, 75km ride and 15km run ( involving some monkey dodging).

I would like to say that I’ve been hitting it in training, but 2017 so far hasn’t gone 100% according to plan. I’ve had to adjust my training for certain periods of time due to a frustratingly long list of ailments/injuries I have managed to inflict on myself.

A bike crash, a motorbike accident, a jelly fish sting and a rather nasty skin infection I picked up (unknowingly) running through a puddle of sewage in Chumphon, where recent flooding has recently devastated vast areas, are just part of the list.

I would like to be able to say I handled the various situations well, but the truth is, there were certain moments where I should have listened to my body, picked up on the signs earlier, and simply rested. But I just ploughed on through, refusing to admit that my body was damaged in any way.

I came off the motorbike on the way to swimming, and after spending 5 minutes disinfecting the road rashes street side, I was in the pool ploughing up and down. Skimping on the push off the wall due to a rather swollen ankle.

In hind sight, perhaps this was not the most sensible approach to the long-term healing of the injuries.

As triathletes, we seem to have it in our minds that rest is the “weak” option.

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Easy indoor treadmill run to avoid heat and help recovery (P.C Lyndsey Fraser)

Personally, I’m always in admiration of someone who looks me straight in the eye and says “No, I didn’t do that session/set/optional extra as I was tired/run down.”

I try to learn from them and embrace this positive attitude towards rest, but it’s certainly not first nature to me to think that “less is sometimes more”.

But the more I put this theory to the test, the more it continues to prove right. Unsurprisingly.

Just yesterday I did a “short” long ride – cutting off 50 km as I was a touch run down. This, coupled with decreasing the time spent out in the heat has meant that I seem to have recovered a lot faster than I would have otherwise. I managed to get in a half-way decent swim set this morning, rather than 4km of pure suffering, trying to hit intervals I would otherwise manage.

I hope I’ve made my point: Less is sometimes more”. Don’t think it’s weak to say enough is enough. If anything, in this sport, you are being the truly strong and smart one.

I’m also writing this to myself, so that in the future when I find myself in a trough of low-energy, I don’t feel so bad about calling it a day a touch early, if this is what my body is telling me.

You have to learn to spot the signs of when pushing that extra bit is going to push you over the edge, and when it’s what you need to improve and go that extra mile.

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Pushing it on a track session, with coach Jurgen Zack giving us the countdown #noescape (P.C Tuan Tuan)

Trust yourself, you know our body. Your coach can be there to guide you, but at the end of the day only you know how the level of pain or exhaustion you are truly at, and how much more you can safely handle.

Train smart

Imo

Note: top pic PC Lyndsey Fraser. Taken on a stunning bimble ride having finally admitted to myself that a bike race was probably not a good idea whilst on antibiotics.

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