Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Weathering the Perfect Storm



Slump? I ain't in no slump... I just ain't hitting.
~ Yogi Berra ~

Edie Bailey: This is a hurricane coming straight at us!
Melissa Brown: Let me reduce sails, Sandy, or even go back home.
Alexander McAnally III: This is my boat. We're gonna ride this thing out, not for fun, for safety. Do what I've always done: go with the flow.
~ from the movie The Perfect Storm ~

The Perfect Storm



A definition of The Perfect Storm: 
A particularly bad or critical state of affairs, arising from a number of negative and unpredictable factors.
Some definitions of a Slump include:
A period during which a person performs slowly, inefficiently, or ineffectively, especially a period during which an athlete or team fails to play or score as well as usual; to decline or deteriorate, as health, business, quality, or efficiency; to sink heavily, as the spirits; a decrease, decline, or deterioration. 

I believe a slump can be a simple mental issue that keeps stealing your focus or it can be a combination of mental and physical burnout leading to hitting a wall. In my case, I think it was the burnout factor combined with worn out running shoes, a couple of left hooks and a roundhouse kick from life which led to my recent perfect storm. At first I was getting very frustrated with myself for not doing what I should be doing or thought I should be doing, and then I realized I was “shoulding” on myself again. Who says I should be doing anything right now anyway? Who says I have to keep to any schedule right now with everything going on? Anyway, however you color it, I have been in a slump or at least a funk. 
I started by going back to the gym and focusing on head clearing workouts with the weights and that is when it hit me. When a batter gets in a slump the best thing to do is take them back to the basics; get them doing drills, hitting off a tee, and most important is to get them out of their head. Using this analogy, my plan of action was to start with ordering new road and trail shoes and then focus on getting back to basics. I have not taken a real break from running in two years. I have backed off a couple of times but I was always afraid to stop for too long because of the difficulty of starting back up again. So backing off now won’t kill me. 
I have some muscle imbalances to work on in my hip region that cause extreme tightness in my hip flexors as well as dealing with allergy type symptoms for the past month. It is funny how things change. In the beginning I only lifted weights, then I slowly and grudgingly added minimal cardio until I realized that running was the missing link to round out my workouts. For some time I was balancing weights, core and cardio in a well-rounded blend of a workout. Slowly as I increased mileage, other pieces took a back seat until for a while I was pretty much just doing the running part. Hence, the getting back to basics part of my plan. I am using the B2R Level One training system for foot, leg and core strength which I got from Eric Orton’s born2run.com site. I have been getting back in the gym as I said and hitting the weights; not in an effort to bulk up, but to build back my upper body strength. This while walking and going on hikes with my wife when possible and running when the urge hits me, but nothing forced for now. I have put any long distances races on the back burner for now but I still want to be able to cover long distances whether on training runs or pacing friends. When the time is right and I am feeling it, I will get the 50K knocked out but I am playing that by ear. 

Here are some thoughts and ideas on dealing with and getting out of a slump: (You may need to adjust your list to what works for you.)
1. Realize that a setback does not mean starting over at the beginning
2. Give yourself a break and stop beating yourself up
3. Talk to friends who will support and encourage you
4. Read books to find motivation (lately a lot of books on hiking the Appalachian Trail)
5. If your block is with running, try a new route or setting, ditch your watch, and switch up what you keep track of. If you normally run X miles, run for X amount of time. If you run roads, try some trails and if you run trails, try somewhere new. 
6. If your block is with working out, or a nutritional plan, or a creative block, go back to something more comfortable and re-group
7. Re-evaluate your goals and find something smaller to set your sights on for a bit
8. Avoid using this setback as an excuse to give up completely and derail yourself
9. Find a way to have some fun with what you are struggling with. **The number one reason kids quit things is that they stop being fun**
10. Remember why you started in the first place and what it was like when it was working

I am trying whatever it takes to get my head spinning clockwise instead of counter clockwise and ultimately to a non-spinning status. I need to remember that sometimes it is okay to stop and regroup. To listen to my body and not run if I don’t feel up to it. I am surrounding myself with like-minded people who are supportive and positive, as well as spending some quality time with me.  I do not believe that most people take the time to recharge their batteries and stay at optimal power. I can tell you for a fact that I am not always good at letting myself be silent and allowing for a recharge, but I am working on getting better. Sometimes when people are totally focused on training, it is hard for them to understand when you need to back off to refocus. I am lucky to have my wife, friends and the amazing Trail Nerds to help keep me moving in the right direction.  
The only one who needs to understand me right now is me and let me tell you that is good news for you. Thanks for hanging with me and following the trials and trails of my journey. I would love to hear input and suggestions about working out of a funk. 

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