In Daniel Coyle's book “Lance Armstrong's War” he has a description of how athlete's get to and maintain peak performance, he called it stepping out onto a razor's edge, that you will train as hard as your body will allow walking out onto a knife edge where even a tiny bit more will have you crashing off into a pit of oblivion.
I reached that point at the end of July, I knew I was training hard, but thought I was within my limits. Though my volume sounds high, there was planned recovery into it and I had spent many months building towards that, 3 weeks building in volume and then a very easy recovery week, not doing hard workouts back to back etc.
The mistake I made was that when you go through periods of high stress or anxiety you need to scale back training as it affects your ability to recover between workouts diminishes drastically, maintaining the same volume is almost like doubling the time or intensity that you have been training, a huge jump.
What did it feel like ? It was horrible, inability to sleep, getting out and not being able to come up to pace, not feeling strong running or cycling, but feeling weak. Eventually I just blew entirely, mentally I just didn't want to train, it became a chore that I just didn't want to do. It was cycling first, my favorite discipline, but the thought of getting dressed and having to ride 15 minutes just to get out of civilization, or spending 2 hours out just didn't appeal. Then came the injuries, little niggles, a soleus (calf) muscle that would pull every two to three runs forcing me to rest for a few days and be unable to run, pain after lifting weights in my shoulders even though I wasn't increasing the weights, my body was telling me to stop.
So much of August I just lifted weights, going out on the mountain bike occasionally and just doing short sessions rather than the monster ones I had been doing, just going as fast as I felt.
Finally this last week my mojo has returned, I'm looking forward to working out, instead of seeing my bike in the garage and not wanting to ride it, seeing it as an object, I now look at it differently, it calls to me, the lines looking fast at a standstill. Its also felt good to ride, almost as if I have to hold myself back, I want to ride faster, harder, to push myself to feel out the limits of both myself and the bike, feeling at one when riding not two separate entities any more but as one.
Even now in my mind I am thinking of early tomorrow morning, which route I am going to take, for how long, how the early morning air will feel, the road spinning past underneath me, in my mind feeling the turn at the top of the hill on Wildcat Road – after climbing steadily for a mile, it both makes a sharp turn and kicks up, forcing me to get out of the saddle and just muscle it round, the bike rocking, feeling each turn of my legs on the pedals jump the bike forward.
Yeah, I'm back.