Today was supposed to be a recap post about racing the San Diego International triathlon.
Instead, let’s talk about when it’s time to sit one out.
On Friday I was setting up my mat to do some YouTube yoga when I heard a snap from my knee. Instantly I felt a searing pain, pain which didn’t go away through the rest of the day. I couldn’t lift and bend my knee more than a foot off the ground. Saturday morning I was still in pain, so I made the tough call to withdraw from the race.
It was one of those times when I had to override my usual advantage- my mental strength- and listen to my body. Those are hard days.
I’ve written a lot on this blog about the mental toughness required to overcome challenges. So there was definitely a part of me wondering if I was doing the right thing or if I was just being a wuss. I seriously considered toughing it out. There is no doubt in my mind that I could have gotten through the race, even if I had to walk the entire 5k. But I also worried that this minor blip with my knee could become something worse if I pushed it. So I decided to forfeit my entry fee and park my butt on the couch. It was the right decision. My knee has returned to about 70% function but I notice if I push it, it hurts. Imagine what it would feel like right now if I had put it through a race?
But that was only half the story. I just completed the annual Tone It Up 8 week Bikini Series, full of healthy eats and daily strength workouts, not full of triathlon training. I’ve been running twice a week, swimming twice a month, and biking once in a blue moon. So I wasn’t exactly prepared to complete a tri this weekend. Would I have finished it? Of course. But let’s be real- my heart wasn’t in this one.
In fact, my heart hasn’t been in racing much this year. I spent a good deal of time thinking through my 2017 race schedule, putting one race a month on the calendar and mentally congratulating myself on the epic endeavor I was embarking upon. I had visions of the hard work it would require, how I would start incorporating more speed workouts, spend more time in the pool, go on long bike rides with friends. Months later, what I came to realize is that my mind wasn’t listening to my body. I had visions of glory, but my body wanted none of it, and my heart even less so. I didn’t develop or keep to a consistent training schedule, I’ve had two injuries that forced me off my feet, I went off course like a dodo in my first tri, got heat exhaustion in my half marathon, and whined like a little baby about the weather at my second tri. I think this sudden knee injury was my body saying, “Hey, this is supposed to be fun, and you’ve been kind of being a pain about it this year, so how about we sit this one out?” Touché, body. You win this one.
My next race on the schedule is the Chula Vista Challenge in August, and my heart is actually invested in that one. I have 7 weeks to put in some solid training and recovery to get to that race healthy and strong. I want to chase my 2nd place AG finish from last year and see if I can requalify for USAT Nationals. I’m ready to reinspire myself with what my body is capable of doing and how much fun racing can be.
Moral of the story? It’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to branch out and do other fun fitness things. In fact, it may be just the thing you need to return energized and focused to a sport that demands so much.