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Fan's world of triathlon
A relative newcomer to the world of triathlon. No groundbreaking insights, just my thoughts on training, racing and life in general...

Chasing the blues away - the restorative power of exercise

fannyjaneby fannyjaneOct 25th 2013
I've been thinking about writing this post for a while - been mulling it over in my mind. One of the things that triggered it was a particularly difficult session on the rowing machine a week or two ago. Being a rower as well as a triathlete (ha! still feels weird saying that - I've only done two!), I do at least three, sometimes four sessions on the rowing machine, or erg, a week. Some are low rate, low pressure CV sessions, others are intervals and once a week I complete a test.

So a couple of weeks ago I was having a bad day... Without going into details I'm going through some tricky relationship s**t at the moment, that's not going to resolve itself easily. I'd had a particularly difficult conversation with my ex but was due a test session on the erg. Now with three children and a part-time job I can't waste a single opportunity for a training session so I was determined to do the test but I knew it was going to be a struggle: three sets of 10 minutes at race pace. I made it through the first set of 10 and was bang on my target time, so far, so good. However during the break between sets I had a total break down and dissolved into tears. The counter on the erg was ticking down for my second session and I knew I had to gather myself together for the second set. I started and managed to maintain my target pace - in my head I was thinking "just keep it up for the first five minutes...", so I made it to the first five but could feel myself welling up again - not more tears!! I had to give myself a stern talking to in my head at that point... four minutes to go and I was still on target. At three minutes I started to count down the strokes and then after the longest final minute in the world I'd made it through the second set - bang on target!

By this point my legs felt like jelly; my head was all over the place and I all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball somewhere and make everything go away. All I could think about was how miserable I felt. And I still had one more set of 10 minutes to go. There was nothing I wanted to do less than get back on that erg and attempt another 10 minutes. But I also knew how I would feel if I didn't do it. If I let the pain and sadness take over - I would be so disappointed in myself. And the athlete in me also wanted to see if I could maintain my target pace for that final set!

So I climbed back on and as the counter reached zero, pushed off for the final ten. And it hurt, a lot. That final ten were more a mental test than physical. Again I thought I'd try and make it to five minutes and then just hang on but as I reached the five minute mark and was again hitting my target, my attitude changed and I finally found my competitive edge - there was no way I wasn't going to hit my target for that final five minutes. And I did it! I'd managed all three sets at my target pace, setting a PB into the bargain. And I actually felt great. Getting my times was a mini-achievement, making it through the session felt amazing.

I was so ridiculously pleased with myself for making it through that test session. And I just didn't feel so sad anymore. I'd worked through it - I hadn't given up and somehow had come out of the other side, achieving something into the bargain. And that is what I love about all this crazy sport that I do. The way it makes me feel great - even when I'm feeling lower than low I can get through a session and end up feeling invincible. And it's that feeling that I try to remember on the rainy, dark mornings. Or when it's cold or windy or I'm tired and don't really feel like it. Getting up and out, doing something I love just makes me feel too good not to do it.
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