I had a plan. I thought it was a good one. I would race the Columbia Triathlon four days prior to leaving for a two week trip to Italy where I would rest and recover until my next race. Now that I am home, I feel anything but rested and recovered and I’m staring down another Olympic distance triathlon in less than two weeks.
Where did things go horribly wrong? Let me tell you.
I will admit that I was very reluctant to take so much time off from intense training. I don’t think I have ever had two straight weeks of easy runs and swims and, I was of course worried about losing fitness. My training leading up to Columbia was perfection. I felt strong, fast and ready and I didn’t want to lose that over a two week stretch. However, I did want to fully enjoy my time overseas and not have to wake-up early or think about my diet.
Does hiking in Tuscany for 15 minutes with the boys count?
After reading a blog post from elite runner Tina Muir about how essential it is to take time off (two weeks in fact!) after a hard effort/goal race, I was feeling better. I also received this note from my coach, which I read several times while in Italy:
Reminder: You are strong and fit and tough as nails. You are not going to lose all that on this trip even if you do no workouts (and I know you, you’re not just going to sit the whole time :). Moreover, you can give your body and your mind a break. Triathlons are a dime a dozen. The trip and your family should come first.
Enjoy the hell out of this trip and don’t fret about workouts. Let hikes be substitutes for biking, walking and running for runs, some band work for strength and swims. Wine must be a good substitute for electrolytes, right? Most of all, savor being in Italy!
So much good advice and one of the many reasons I love her so much.
So, I was ready to relax and my “training” during the time in Italy reflected that. Notice there is not a lot of green, which indicates completed workouts:
Before leaving my coach and I agreed that I would do a running block while on vacation since, that is obviously the easiest thing for me to do, and then a bike block after returning home. Seemed simple.
WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED
Immediately after the Columbia Triathlon I got sick. No surprise there since my immune system was severely compromised by the race, the long drives to and from Maryland and then, the stress of getting my entire family ready for a two week trip overseas. I continued to battle my chest cold for the first several days while in Italy which meant I did no exercise for the first three days but ate pasta, cheese and gelato with reckless abandon.
When I did run I felt sluggish up until the last few days of the trip. My swims felt great but they were about a quarter of what I was used to and I did a whopping two of them over 14 days. I did some strength training but again, it felt blah.
I have this sense of being super woman when it comes to my training. I think of walking all over Italy, caring for the boys, packing and unpacking several times, traveling by train, late nights, eating desserts and drinking wine will not deter me from having amazing workouts and becoming well rested. How I could have possibly thought that is so far beyond me.
In my mind, Italy was going to be a time of rest for my mind and body and it was but my “training” rest was replaced with constant activity of a different kind and therefore I came home feeling completely unrested.
The first two workouts on my schedule for the Saturday and Sunday after my Thursday night arrival back into reality were:
Saturday: 2500 yard swim followed by 1 hour 30 min ride
Sunday: 1 hour 30 min hilly run with bursts of 10K pace for 5, 4 ,3, 2 and 1 minutes
What the hell?
Obviously my coach was thinking I would be well rested and raring to go. She was wrong. So, after talking with her I decided to take Friday off (since I couldn’t even think straight) and flip flop the days so the run was first.
Jet lag worked in my favor and I was up and wide awake at 4:30am Saturday morning. I ran just under 11 miles at a 7:43 pace and I felt great.
Same with the bike and swim on Sunday.
What the hell?
- Don’t book an international vacation with your 7 year-old twins, husband, father and stepmom thinking you will come home well rested.
- Don’t worry so much about lost fitness. The rest is so needed and you come back stronger…even if you’re not really resting.
- You can always do more than you think because your body is a hell of a lot smarter than you are.
My next race is scheduled for June 18 and is the Pat Griskus Olympic Distance Triathlon. I’m using this and a few other races this summer as sort of practice for the big one (Nationals!) in August.
After doing so well in horrible conditions at the Columbia race, I conquered all my fears of the distance and now I can focus on fine tuning my attack plan.
The course for this one is hilly because of course. I have never done it but will definitely try to get out and bike and run at least part of the course before race day.
I’m pretty positive I can beat my swim time from Columbia, unless the weather takes a drastic turn and, I will have to bike/drive the other courses before I consider making any other predictions.
I’m most interested in seeing how my mind and body will perform after not really resting and jumping right back into training. If this past weekend was any indication, I think it will all turn out just fine.
[Tweet “When your #rest plan fails you, how will your body respond? #train4life”]
What is the most unrestful vacation you have ever had?
Has a recent run or workout pleasantly surprised you?
I love what Tina said about family coming first <3
It's so so so true.
And family and life and togetherness is so fleeting BUT also energizes us and rejuvenates us right along with that REST.
It was actually my coach who wrote that but I’m sure Tina would agree 🙂 xoxo
The most un-restful vacation? Any in the past 6 years where my kids have been involved. Seriously, that’s not possible! But the chance to build memories is all worth the un-rest. You are strong and full of grit! 2 weeks off from training is nothing. You’ve got this!
PREACH!!! Although, these vacations are 1 million times better than when the boys were babies. Those were pure hell.
Thanks Angela 🙂
I have a gut feeling that this rest will be the secret sauce to an amazing triathalon. I also almost think it’s impossible to have a relaxing trip to Italy lol you go to Italy to do ALL the things!! I really have a good feeling that this rest is exactly what you needed to perform at your best. Loved the words from CRS too. She is so awesome!!
You are so right – kids or no, there is no relaxing trip to Italy…at least not for me 🙂
Thanks so much Nellie!
I’m so glad you had a good time. I’m actually taking an extended break right now and it feels great. I’ve needed that time to just relax. I cannot imagine how overwhelming it got with your sons at times!
Glad to hear you are taking some rest time too. It’s so necessary!! Plus, you should enjoy REAL rest before you have kids! 🙂
I would think a two week rest would be somewhat analogous to a two week taper period…. your legs / body refreshed and ready to go….. My first run the day after we got back from Spain surprised me (working on post now)
Looking forward to reading that and I love that you’re experiencing the same!!
I’m a little worried about how I’m going to deal with running (or lack thereof) when we go to Mexico (we leave a week after the marathon this month). I’m not a very good “rester.” LOL.
Obviously neither am I!! I’m sure you will be fine. Everything changes once you get there and, after you kill that marathon, you will be ready for at least some rest 🙂
I don’t think I’ve ever taken a restful vacation. I’m not really a “restful vacation” kind of person, because there’s too much I want to see and do! I have no problem subbing in hikes and things like that for structured workouts during vacation, but that’s probably because I’m not going to the triathlon national championships and therefore it doesn’t matter if all I do forever is hike. Just like it did with your workouts this weekend, I bet your body will end up surprising you! I will say that one benefit of taking sleeping pills is that I avoid jet lag entirely, which is pretty sweet.
I so wanted to take my xanax to sleep but I couldn’t with the boys. I think the bottom line here is if you want to continue to enjoy your vacations and get some sleep, don’t have kids!! < - - you KNOW I'm joking. And, I'm also not a "restful vacation" person either but this was A LOT. I like at least a couple days on the beach... next time...
I love that note from your coach! And since having kids, vacations are DEFINITELY not restful if they are along for the trip!! I too think that your body will end up surprising you. Maybe the hectic family vacation is the secret sauce for an amazing race??
I certainly hope not because I’m looking forward to relaxation sans kids at least once this year!! And, like I said to Angela, these vacations with the boys being a little older are amazingly better than the baby stage vacations so, there’s that.
I love your coach’s note about family coming first. There are always races to train for, but not always family trips abroad! Honestly, any international vacation isn’t super restful because jet lag! The 8 hour time difference from Seattle to London made that a rough trip and it fell smack in the middle of half marathon training earlier this year, but I missed a few workouts and did just fine. Honestly, if anything this rest is going to be for your benefit for the tri!
It’s one of the many reasons I love my coach – she keeps me grounded. And yes, the jet lag was horrible (6 hours) both going there and coming home. I have no clue how you handled an 8 hour time difference!
I have to agree that the rest is best, I just wish I had more of it!! 🙂 Thanks Laura.
Let’s see, the last “vacation” was the Disney cruise in December when we all got the stomach bug..not sure that counts. Before that, all of my “vacations” have included driving 10 hours to NH, spending 2 weeks with no sleep because my little one apparently can ONLY sleep in his own bed, and then driving 10 hours back. Yeeeaaa, not really a vacation in my eyes. I LOVE the note that your coach sent. that is exactly the quality I would look in a coach if I were looking to hire one!
Stomach bug on vacation has to be the ultimate worst ever. You should get a full refund, a spa day and another scheduled vacation afterward. So awful.
And yes, my coach definitely has her priorities straight and she keeps mine in line as well 🙂
Pretty sure that you are going to do just fine. So you will be over the illness–win. And you have all that saved up fitness from your last race–win. You have experience and confidence from crushing that last tri–win.
You got this!
Well, now that you cleared that up for me I feel much better 🙂 Thanks Wendy!
Vacations can be exhausting too, but in a different kind of way…I’m assuming even more so if you have twin boys to care for! Maybe I’m getting older, but instead of “hey, let’s check out this place and grab and drink!” my friends and I have more turned into a “lets go to bed because we’re tired and want to do more stuff tomorrow.” But worth it.
I often don’t do ANYTHING related to training on my vacation – sometimes it’s nice to escape and just be part of another world. Of course, if doing a little something here and there makes you feel better, then go for it. But Italy and family time is so worth skipping.
It was SO worth skipping!! And yes, I’m definitely in the camp of “let’s go to bed and get an early start.” God I’m old.
Thanks Susan!! Nice to hear from you 🙂