The Juggling Act of 2018
I have been exclusively focused on this sport for about 3 years now. Turns out, just telling yourself "I'm only going to dedicate my training to Cyclocross" is the equivalent to patting oneself on the back after posting that overtly controversial tweet to the world wide web. Did you really do anything there?
Don't get me wrong, I am dedicated to CX, but I did not take the deliberate steps necessary this year to be personally successful in the sport. I could immaturely blame my ability to not sit still, while complaining how I'm sooOoO busy all of the time. I'm a walking oxymoron. Pray for my husband and coach
My teammate Kristen and I, set out the plan to start a CX team. After a year of solo flying, I this is very much what I needed. I'm a pack animal, and appreciate her patience when listening to my crazy philosophies and hypothesis on every damn thing. Pray for her too, because like Alex and Grant, she's stuck with me.
As you may know, we try to communicate the proper balance of work and life. I'm a big believer in purpose, value, and transferable knowledge in everything I do. As one of my friend Tim says. "it's all the same shit". He's not wrong.
I work as a Engineering Program Manager for Hitachi as well as train and race at the professional level. Think of each one of these things as cross training, but for your mind. One could argue that sitting in a room filled with with technical Engineers and Programmers as the mental fortitude needed to hang with Ruth Winder for her 6 hour "base ride" (muah, Ruth)
Thus we come back to that word, "deliberate". I do not talk often about my career to shove it in your face. My intention is to let others know that work/training/racing is not only the majority of those who race, but it is the majority of women who race professional women's CX in the U.S. Who by the way, are ranked #2 in the world. We're talking racers who are Scientists, Doctors, PhD's, Lawyers, Teachers, students, c... who have insane and consistent results. It can work, and it does. It is not my intention to knock on those who solely race. If you can make it work, and that is what you want, that's absolutely incredible and respected.
After 2 years of Grant (and Meredith) telling me to slow the eff down, it finally hit me. Back in August, I was slapped with significant adrenal fatigue, with the risk of chronic implications. This was due to a stressful work environment tied with my inability to utilize the bike as an outlet, but as a thing I needed to do. As athletes we are tough, but as a downside you can ignore warming signs. For me, I was not over-trained, it was mental stress and anxiety, and that shit is real. Everything felt hard, and could have easily been misconstrued as losing interest in racing, which was my initial (feared) reasoning.
I would take a stressful work day and throw myself into my workouts as if it were my only purpose. When those didn't go well, I found myself fall into a depressed state. I got blood tests and worked with Grant to devise a recovery and rebuild plan. No TV, no screens after a certain hour, no added sugars, no stimulants (coffee), no downers (alcohol) of any kind, and no processed foods. It took about two weeks of “off” to start feeling like myself again. My first workout back was Boulder Cup, and although it hurt (ego and body), it was day 1.
Since then we have been working to find what is right for me. Slowing down was the biggest thing. I removed any type of tempo riding, and did what I needed to do get that repeated punch sharpened, while keeping my endurance up. Spent much more time strength training and SO much more time recovering. Drinking water, timing the right kinds of foods correctly, body work, etc. I still have a beer (.. or more), because it's what the body wants. I'm not overly picky regarding food, I just eat what it wants and make sure it gets enough. Yes, my body wants Oreos sometimes.
Physiologically, well, I began taking realistic and objective thoughts into what I was feeling and why. I wasn’t handling these stressors, but rather ignoring them and pushing through. Grant really helped with this. He holds up the mirror and it ain’t always pretty. Most of the time it isn’t pretty. Although the timing was rough, I needed this type of introspection.
Additionally, I have spent a lot of time this year speaking with Dietitians, Sports Physiologists, Coaches, Doctors, etc, because these individuals are experts, they have dedicated their lives to understanding YOUR body. I'm not interested in your YouTube channel regarding your ketogenic diet plan, nor do I want to hear about "How I increased my FTP by 50 watts". Sure, stories and examples can be an interesting and digestible way to retain knowledge. But it's not a shortcut to solve your problems. Really put some deliberate thought into what works for you. Especially on a psychological level.
After hitting my head in Tulsa, ultimately getting a concussion, I immediately felt embarrassed and just frustrated with myself. I always get hurt, it's no secret. But as Grant told me that same day: "you push yourself, that's not a bad thing, it will come together".
You know what, he's right. I put myself our there, and I don't want to cover up these life moments that are so crucial to a developing athlete... or human. I had some of my best results of my life this season. I sprinted for a UCI podium (s’close), raced internationally, accepted a PMO Mananger position at new company starting in January, and started a team with one of my besties. Not to mention other life things: bought a house and adopted a (demon) pup. I'll continue towards the path of transparency, hopefully without annoying any of you too much. 2019, the year of team & career development with a focus on deliberate goals and practices. We will be sharing the stories of those who balance. Stoked for that one.
Getting hurt sucks. But there are many things that don't.