I needed that

In the dizzying spiral of days that wrapped up late summer and started the fall indoor inline speed skating training season, life got faster. Not necessarily on the track or trail, but in general. Somewhere along the way, the rules changed too, and the expectations I have of myself got higher. Commitments and responsibility are starting to get in the way of my inline skating. WTF?

11 days off and I'm right back to where I started...

I’m not the same skater I was a year ago, and training took a toll I didn’t expect this year…it led to fatigue and low-grade burnout. Like Pooky in New Jack City, all I want to do is high-step it into the Enterprise room and get beamed up to Scotty. All these years of smoking polyurethane seem to have caught up with me…

I tried to kick... but that s#*t just be callin' me man, it be callin' me, man... I just got to go to it!

It’s been a great year, the best so far that’s for sure. My involvement in the sport has run deeper than I would have volunteered for at any one time, and it’s all good, too. It’s been a gradual progression, albeit quick. One of those things where you just decide you’re going to do something, set about getting it done and sit back and say, “Wow…how did that happen?” Do that over and over and the s#*t starts to pile up. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced anything like that, or if that statement makes a lot of sense, but I don’t have a lot of time to over-analyze my writing or edit myself if I expect this blog post to get done anytime soon…

The burnout symptoms came out of nowhere, but yet in looking back I guess I could have seen the warning signs if I’d been looking for them. I’ve been in that special place reserved for those that over-train before, and I can tell you…this bout of burnout was something different. It grew over a few weeks of Indian Summer, where the world of long distance outdoor inline skating was bumping up against the foundation building of indoor inline speed training. Here’s my takeaway, the two disciplines play really well together when it’s early in the year and you’re working on building up speed indoor, but that relationship goes to shite faster than Lucy finding Ricky in the back bedroom with Ethel and a sixer of Four Loco when you’re still burning up the trail outdoor, and you’ve torn it all down to rebuild your foundation on the indoor oval…it can snap your will to skate.

Before this, I thought I’d done a stellar job of creating a better skate / life balance this year. I’d put my house in order, allowing the changing needs of my growing little family to take priority. I’d changed my training routine in so many ways this year that at a certain point, although I’d been skating harder than ever, with more purpose and intensity, I felt like I was cutting myself short and not training frequently enough. Of course that was all in my head, but in years past that feeling and thoughts like it had always been motivators to make the time I needed to skate and just get out there and put in the miles. Not this year. Those thoughts and feelings of not doing enough started to weigh more and became de-motivators…

Your passion is...illogical.

The burnout warning signs glow like neon in the cold, dark night now, but I couldn’t see it when it was happening…started taking more days off for “healing” than I used to…was satisfied with shorter distance skates at lunchtime…stopped skating in the morning all together…let a little wind stop me from gearing up…put off updating this blog…stayed away from the chat forums…started to think all of the pros ARE doping and didn’t give a s#*t…was actually happy to tell Horseypants that I wouldn’t bring my skates for 11 sun filled days in Naples, Florida…really didn’t care that we wouldn’t have an internet connection to watch the Inline Speed Skating World Championships when we were on vacation…didn’t miss my skates at all while we were in Florida…found it very hard to get back into the swing of things when we got back to Colorado…for the first time found myself thinking about the logistics of canceling a Rink Rabbits practice the day of practice…gave up the idea of chartering a team…there was actually more.

In all of this, except for our trip to Florida, I’ve been skating. But my heart was a half-beat behind. I just didn’t feel like I was sitting comfortably in the pocket. And it dawned on me that it was fear that was driving me when I was actually skating…fear of losing my legs, destroying my base, that fear drove me to keep skating and doing dry-land exercises. It wasn’t that I really wanted to be doing any of it. And that, for me, is the key. The desire and passion to be on my skates was really just not there like it has been for the last six years. For me, that’s just not right…

My passion for inline was in perfect hibernation.

When I started to realize that it wasn’t so much fun anymore, or at least as fun as it used to be, I started thinking about other sports…and concluded that I’m not a jock and really don’t care to participate in any competitive sports at all. All or nothing thinking crept back in. I’m either in this or I’m just not. Well, at least that was a comfortable emotional place to be for me. And I think it was from there that I started feeling a little bit better. I know I’m in it, it’s to what level, that’s the question.

I don’t know how long the gray skies would have lingered, but I do know what snapped me out of it…

¿Dónde está el baño?

It was a blog post by a writer named Matthew DeGeorge about Alex Cujavante’s, ah, mistake, at the 2010 Inline Speed Skating World Championships in Guarne, Colombia this year. If you haven’t seen this video, it’s really horrendous. Alex is rounding the last corner of a 20,000 meter race and he thinks he’s far enough ahead of the pack that he can stand up and showboat across the finish line in front of a hometown crowd. Sang Cheol Lee of South Korea didn’t stop skating and came right up his rear…taking the gold from Alex and making him a viral internet superstar. Watch the video. I’d love to know what the Colombian commentators are saying.

Anyway…this blog post. Mr. DeGeorge has a way with words. He essentially tears our sport to shreds, writing things like, “…Cujavante was competing in the 20,000 meter race, which, if it seems like a ludicrous distance to cover wearing a child’s toy on your feet…is. (I can only imagine a mile long pogo race as its equivalent.)” And, “…Colombian speed roller skater (seriously!)” Topped off with a third snark, “…Lee’s winning time in the marathon (actually, they have one of those, too!)”

Reading all that I was like, “Dammmmnnnnn. A child’s toy on his feet.” Now I’m not generally known to have a thin skin, and I thought the “pogo race” comment was pretty snappy, but I was ready to call it quits. What a joke. Here in the US, the sport will never be taken seriously. World Champ Wouter Hebbrecht thought it might be a good idea to track Mr. DeGeorge down and bring him to an inline event. Would it help the perception of our sport out there on the internet and in the world? I don’t know, but I bet Mr. DeGeorge would walk away with a new appreciation for our sport after having seen, met and watched some of our best athletes in action.

That aside…At some point it occurred to me…I remembered…one of my problems is that I end up taking things too seriously and THAT’S what feeds the burnout. THAT’S what saps the joy and fun out of skating for me.

DON’T TAKE THIS S#*T SO SERIOUSLY…As it turns out, DeGeorge’s blog post was just what the doctor ordered. The video IS funny. It’s a damn shame that Mr. Cujavante had to learn that lesson in front of the world, but seriously…looks like he needed the lesson. And c’mon…after re-reading DeGeorge’s comments, what he wrote was funny. A child’s toy indeed! This sport does keep you young. Young in fitness and young at heart. And if you’ve lost the ability to laugh at yourself, all is lost. At least in my mind. Hell, I remember when I first heard about the “serious” side of this sport – I was incredulous to the point of ridicule too. Even when I started skating outdoors, I swore I’d never be a skin-suit weenie like you. But hey…look how far I’ve come, despite all of that and crap like it.

Here’s our reality…and sorry if it’s hard to read but it’s the truth. If DeGeorge’s comments are hard for you to swallow, just realize that there are just too many people here in the US who have no clue that our inline world exists. So even coverage like this is good, because it builds awareness. Ain’t that some s#*t?!

It was only after I was able to think all that through that I was able to laugh it all off. All of the months of ambivalence and doubt. The time off was good for me. It’s time to get “serious.” Time to get back to what I love doing, for the reasons I love doing it…I love to eat pizza – like 5 slices on a Friday night – and skating allows me to eat whatever the hell I want with impunity, despite my slowing metabolism. THAT’S why I do this…cause I love to eat and I like being thin. Simple. Oh, yeah, and skating IS actually fun. Almost forgot…

So with that, I went downstairs, got my skates out of the trunk and skated with a renewed passion and interest. The next day it snowed. So it goes…

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4 responses to “I needed that

  1. As odd as it sounds, I think the most important months for feeling good in September are October and November; especially for type A personality athletes like us who always have to be doing something.

    I learned this back in 2007, and have experienced it to a point each year since then. In September 2006 I competed in my first Iron distance tri. Right after I finished I signed up for another one in November 2007. I was so excited about the race I didn’t take any time off. I just kept training right through. By the time July and August came around I felt like training was a chore and I wanted nothing to do with it. I forced myself to put the hours in, but the quality sucked because my heart wasn’t there.

    I got through the race in November, but then realized my 2008 racing season was right around the corner. The late season Ironman cut my off season short and my early season road races sucked big time.

    In the fall of 2008 I wised up and forced myself to take a few weeks off. I refused to ride my big until I had that burning desire again. It only took a little over two weeks and I needed a fix again. 2009 ended up being a great season for me. I won a bunch of races and got my cat2 upgrade. I did the same thing in 2009. I took the end of October and beginning of November light and it gave me the break I needed to put in a great winter base for some good early season results in 2010. I think I may have hit the intensity a little too early though because I peaked a few weeks earlier than I expected.

    Right now I have about 2 more weeks before I’ll let myself start training on the roadbike again. Until then I won’t wear a HRM, won’t run/skate/swim any intervals, etc.

  2. Pingback: November 26th 2010- Roller & Inline Speed Skating News

  3. Pingback: Carnage | First Loser

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