Sunday, November 1, 2009

Guinness and Atrophy

I completed my last triathlon of the '09 season sixty days ago, and at the end of the race I was not only physically exhausted but mentally burnt out as well. The endless days and weeks of 2-3 workouts a day had taken their toll, and as I crossed the finish line I told myself that I was done, that the next workout will be sometime in January.

For the last two months I've eaten anything that I wished, tipped back a bunch of Guinness and Laphroaig, and worked on other interests like bagpiping and getting my private pilots license. Last night I had a huge bowl of cookie-dough ice cream, the tan lines have all faded and the hair on my legs has returned with abandon.

This morning before dawn I laced up the running shoes for the first time, and headed out on a run that two months ago would have been so inconsequential that I would have passed on it; 4 miles nice and easy. I was shocked to see how much my condition had atrophied in the weeks that I had taken off. My knees hurt due to the muscle imbalance in my legs, my core was all over the map, and leg muscles were string-tight threatening to pull at any moment. At 46-years old I can see now how fleeting physical condition is.

Five to six hours a week; that's what I've now promised myself until January, enough to stop the free-fall of my physical condition. If not, it'll be a long, painful haul back into race shape for an early season half-Ironman.


Anonymous said...

I know what you mean about the mental burnout. Good luck with the new goal, I need to set one myself.

Anonymous said...

Someone who strives very hard to maintain good health could possibly be grasping for a long life. Someone who does not strive very hard to maintain good health could be grasping for a quick death. How does one know when one has achieved a proper balance?

Eric said...


A think practicing the "middle way" will get you in the ballpark. Of course striving for and seeking the "middle way" simply puts you right back where you started from.