The internal conflict continues…

It’s been weighing heavily on my mind more and more this year. I have just completed my 2nd National Championship less than one month from the previous, in a different sport, with only a slight improvement in the outcome. I think it’s finally time to face the harsh reality that unless I dedicate my training to one sport I will never toe the line at these competitive races fully prepared to perform at my potential.

I told myself after last year’s Cayuga Trails 50 that I would not return to the race this year unless I could train properly for it. I may have trained “better”, but not “properly”. Although I believe I had slightly more run volume overall this year leading up to the race with two 50k’s already under my belt and better rested, I still did not dedicate the weekly mileage that one should to compete in a 50 mile race. Especially when it’s a National Championship! I know to always disregard what others do in training but when you hear the weekly mileage that ultra runners are tackling the doubt starts to creep in. Embarrassing as it is to admit I had only run one 50+ mile week this year – I hit 83 miles 3 weeks before Cayuga and that was only because I took a week off of work and off of the bike. While that week felt great and gave me the confidence I needed going into Cayuga, it was almost double what I was hitting in the months prior and once again my race proved that it wasn’t enough.

I think I’ve done the best I could juggling ultra training with duathlon and triathlon training, but it has become less fun and more stressful as I pick and choose where to cut corners. I’m cheating myself in both sports by not fully committing to either training plan.

To be inside my head the last few weeks… In a matter of 3 days I went through 3 different thought patterns:
1) I think after this season I will hang up the bike and focus on ultra running.
2) I’m kidding myself if I think I can be a strong ultra runner. After Cayuga it’s time to cut out the trail running and start training hard on the bike.
3) My bike fitness is so far behind right now. I’m just going to get through Nationals and hang up the bike. I will switch my flight to Switzerland and find a destination ultra race for the fall.

I was in the shower the day before leaving for Duathlon Nationals when #3 popped into my head. So I quickly shut down those thoughts realizing that this was not the mindset I should be in 2 days before I had to race on my bike! I would re-visit it after the race. Now, three weeks later with not a crank turned on my bike since May 14th, and the 50 mile race behind me, I am still left without a plan. And I need to decide what my next move will be so I can focus on a new training block.

I also think – does it really matter? Can’t I be good in both sports and be happy without being my best? Right now I’m not sure I can. Last year I was okay with it and had a ton of fun but also really wore myself out in the summer with the back-to-back long races in different disciplines. I remained in a constant state of recovery-taper-race for over a month. While I really enjoyed the variety of races and challenge of switching gears after each race my results also left me disappointed when I felt I had more potential.

I know I have plenty more years of racing ahead of me but let’s face it – time is not standing still and I need to be realistic about my remaining “peak years”. Right now I’m unsure of which direction I will go – both for the remainder of this year and the next. I guess I still have some soul-searching to do. Every time I think I’ve made my decision I second-guess myself. Honestly I am leaning towards taking time off the bike. Powerman Zofingen will always be there. But the thrill of racing on my bike is a hard thing to quit. It’s tough being an endurance junkie 😉

If anyone has faced a similar decision between two sports I would love to hear about it. For now I will keep hoping the answer comes to me.

fork in the road

12 thoughts on “The internal conflict continues…

    • Doesn’t sound like such a bad answer, from Jay 😉
      Considering how much more our bodies break down from running, enjoying it now could be a good way to go. The bike will be there. But I’ll give more comments off-line.

      • That’s my thought. And the decision doesn’t have to be permanent. Once I’m recovered and you’re tapering we’ll have to run and discuss.

  1. I had the same dilemma when I started racing ultras while trying to also do sprint triathlon. In the end the decision was made for me when I got a running injury that prevented me from distance running – it flared up every time I ramped up the mileage. So I switched to tris and now only race up to half marathon for running. Hope you’re able to make a decision that makes you happy, which of course is all that really matters. And for what it’s worth, I don’t think you can make a bad decision!

    • Thanks for sharing that Alison! I do appreciate the fact that I’m in the position to make a decision on my own, and not be forced into one. I’m sorry the ultras didn’t work out for you but I love watching you dominate in tris! And I agree – whatever decision will be a good one.

  2. I’m in between different run distances right now and I’m taking the easy way out, I’m not thinking about it yet 😉 And I’m also afraid to say it out loud. Whatever you do, you will always be one of my running heroes ❤

  3. I’ve gone through this dilemma several times; first with bike racing and “life,” and then with CrossFit & weightlifting. While I’ve settled on weightlifting as my primary sport, I still love the diversity of CrossFit and the endurance side (running, rowing, etc.) it offers. Not to mention, I just did this crazy relay race you might have heard about that made me love running again…ugh! I want to do it all!

    I think history has shown us that “impossible is nothing;” you can, theoretically, be elite at more than one sport, but it’s incredibly challenging. Finding a creative solution and understanding how your body’s performance and mental attitude adapt over time is key; that’s why a good coach is so important.

    Ultimately, my advice is to take time and decide what outcomes are important to you, and then chase the why; define what “success” means to you regardless of society’s definition of “1st” as the only successful outcome. You’re in a position where asking “did you win?!” actually has real meaning – do those questions wear on you, or push you to train harder so can you answer “yes” next time? Balancing the stress of victory with the thrill of competing is a delicate line. Lastly, and this certainly isn’t novel advice, appreciating the journey and being present always helps keep happiness right in front of you, and not after the finish line.

    • Such great words of advice Sam – thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. That really does help!

      I definitely share your desire to want to do it all. And my ideas of success do evolve over time which I know is a good thing. While it used to be “try to dominate as much as you can” I’m now seeing the result of that mentality. Specificity may not be my bag but I want to at least give it a shot!

      I’m happy your rekindled your love for running, and I sure hope you continue to do some “crazy relay races” 😉

  4. It is a tough need to follow your heart and your passion..I am also at a crossroads..we need to love what we do and do what we love and I guess it takes time and soul searching. You’ll make a decision and move forward and that’ll be the right decision😊 Know that we will continue to follow you no matter what you are an amazing athlete and we are here to support you❤️

    • Thanks Jocelyn! I just wish I didn’t love all of it so much 😉 Hopefully you can come to terms with your decision too. I hope you had a wonderful time in Spain!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s