Monday, February 18, 2013

The off-season slump

Days like today, I suppose I really am an endurance runner at heart.
Sometime last year, I had an athletic epiphany - also known as, How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Racing. Somewhere along the way I decided to train for and really RACE a half marathon, then a marathon.

Right now, I'm training sort of half-heartedly for a sprint triathlon. I'm not really a speedster so am not expecting to win anything; swim class leaves me with crippling, puke-inducing sinus headaches (does anyone have any remedies for that?) and on the bike I'm quite happy to just not fall off. There's a sprint aquathlon next weekend, a 5K, duathlon and 10K in March and the tri and another 10K in April.

But I'm feeling strangely adrift without anything BIG to train for. Base fitness means I can get up off the couch and run a 10K without much trouble - well, not unless I'm gunning for any PRs, anyway. But last year I really got used to rolling out of bed on a Saturday morning and ambling along for a couple of hours. Speedwork every Tuesday night. Tempo runs. Recovery runs. Doubles on Thursdays - 10km along the canal, where I'd say hi to my colleague (an older gentleman who walks 4-5km Every! Single! Morning), then hills at night. Marathon training got to be kind of a comforting routine.

This year, I'm not signed up for any marathons or even anything longer than a 10K just yet. I have travel plans (New Zealand in May!) and family plans (sister's wedding in July!), and there aren't any long races in between; though I'm thinking of the KL half-marathon in June and the Perth City to Surf marathon in August. I get my butt to the track on Tuesdays if only because it's still a comforting routine, I get to see friends and it's also good for my mental health. But I'm just not super motivated... help!!

Workouts this week:

Tuesday - super hilly 12k easy with some friends. Well, easy pace for them, anyway. At the end I was kind of clinging on for dear life...
Wednesday - swim training - a few drills, a little speedwork - about 1.7km all told
Friday - tempo 5k, super tired
Saturday - swam 2km at the local pool, J's prof's birthday party, partied till 1am
Sunday - easy 7k, completely exhausted (what is wrong with me??), followed by a very much needed massage
Tuesday - well, let's see how I feel at the track tomorrow.

- Anyone know a good fix for swim-induced sinus headaches?  
- What do you do when training hits a slump? 


  1. Have you always gotten the headaches? A few things to consider:

    1. Your GOGGLES. Especially the width of the nose piece, and how tightly they suction into your eye sockets. Maybe try a different pair for a bit, see if that helps? Or widen the nose piece?

    2. Chemicals - are some pools better than others? In the US, there are a few different chemical systems used in pools, and sometimes people are sensitive to one or the other.

    3. Breathing. If I swim a really oxygen-depriving workout, sometimes I'll end up with a headache, too. Try breathing more frequently for a workout (if you're doing 3 or 5 stroke breathing, try 2 or 3 instead). I assume you're exhaling under water so you can get a really good full inhale when you turn...

    4. Are you doing something funny with your mouth while you swim (like grinding your teeth, or tightening your jaw, or tensing something in a weird place)?

    OK, that's all I've got. Good luck getting it sorted out. That's a sucky feeling, and not so motivating on the swim front....

    1. Logic tells me it's not #1 or #2 because I can swim breast-stroke or a much slower pace without getting the Headache. It might be #3 or #4 though, or some horrible combination of both! A pre-swim Zyrtec-D seems to help a little. I might just be born this way :)

    2. Sounds like maybe oxygen deprivation. ;-) Maybe it will go away as you get stronger/faster (the irony is that the faster you swim, the more frequently you can breathe...)? Or use that as an incentive for you running: Swim coaches tried to get me to change from 2 to 3 stroke breathing for years. It wasn't until I became a runner that I made the switch. :)

      Would training for a goal pace on a shorter (5, 10K) race break your motivation slump? I find a goal race usually helps me, and a shorter one means you don't have to break yourself training mucho miles...

    3. Ha! I came to swim training completely not knowing how to swim the bad habits to break. So I'm a 3-stroke breather!
      I will be trying for a goal pace at one of the 5Ks and one or two of the 10Ks I'm doing, but I'm just not very fast. :) we'll see.