Reading the Signs

 The subtleties of feedback...

The art of reading the signs, of understanding the subtleties of feedback are critical. One can miss a great deal if unaware and yet this can be miss interpreted. This is one of the reason why I have always enjoyed the on field aspect of performance. The feedback, cues, signals and signs are clearer than in many of the other fields we operate. If you second guess your self or others in a major race the outcome or result becomes obvious. Ignore this level of direct real time data and you are simply living in la la land. 

This brings me to the current situation I find or found my self in today. This morning during a session on the rollers I found my focus coming and going. It was like a wave. I have felt this before. It has usually been the lead up to one of a few things. Sickness, injury, a lack of motivation or loss of purpose. I mean the experience this morning was like... wow, what's going on here? The start of the session I knew I had about 30min to get on, get into it and get off. It all started pretty well. Based on recent training I knew my heart rate and out put via speed from the bike computer. I knew the gearing set up I have been using to get certain speeds and the relationship to my heart rate, the effort, fatigue and concentration. It all started well and after some 15min I felt like I was in the groove. Actually started to think, this is as good as I have gone since starting back with training. 

Side note...
I love the rollers for a few reasons. Mainly because I have to stay tuned into movement and awareness of position on them.

There I was whizzing along heart rate 155 bpm and speed was 52/54km/h in my second biggest gear and a cadence of 100 rpm (Obviously I only use the numbers to show the measures it does not relate to road speed). The effort for fatigue felt good and my concentration was spot on. Overall I was getting great value out of the whole experience. Then around 17.30min I started to labor. Nothing to serious initially it was just subtle. Speed began dropping back to 50km/h and heart rate settled around 150bpm. What was noticeable was my concentration and fatigue which was not local to muscles but I was experiencing an over all feeling of being drained. This last for some 2min and then I was back on top. Speeds crept back to 53km/h and HR was 155 again. The ease of the movement had returned. This lasted until about 23min when I had a quick pause to stretch my legs. When I started back obviously I felt like I was back in the groove pretty quickly but within a minute I just felt drained, distracted, and the value of the experience had left me. 

This happens every couple of weeks and I have wondered about the influence of training alone. I have wondered about the effect of how much concentration is required or that I feel like I must give to look after my back. I wonder about how it relates to my motivation, purpose and reason for doing all this. I wonder what it is telling me. Is it just age. Is it a reality check. Is it just part of the process I must go through. I understand the adage that if it was easy everyone would do it. Not sure I believe it but I can see where that comes from. This is all rather internalised and I get my perceptions of the above can be some times spot on and other times completely off track. This is why I have opted to do regular testing it has helped my turn down the internal volume at times. To have an external objective view of my current situation. Don't get me wrong externalising it all won't help either. It is a balance. An oscillation of sorts. Between the perceptions and observations which I can tap into.

The subtleties mean that at times you need to really tune into what is unfolding. So this morning I stopped just after 35min. I felt flat in the end. The last 10min was a gradual slowing down. While HR stayed around 150 I was down to speeds of 47km/h and the whole experience had shifted from a buzz to a dull and draining sensation. This lasted for at least the next 2hrs after the session. In fact I have sat here writing this to clear my head. Better out than in I say. Usually this related to other bodily functions but even expelling these thoughts has a great benefit. Funny thing is today I have chosen to write in stead of capture my thoughts in my video training diary. Which by the way I have been keeping for three weeks now. Not exactly sure what to do with it as I can see the value in me having it as a reference for later, but I am yet to decide if it would add value here on my blog.
For now I press on inching closer to where ever this journey takes me. What I can say is it's not any easier at this stage. In the past I can recall these early season and early build phases as being up and down. The turmoil comes for finding clarity and the thread which will be the driver going forward. 

This I am still searching for and will take a while I suspect this time around. At this stage I have said I am keen for the challenge of seeing if I can get back to the top of competition after the back surgery. I have said I want a new challenge. I have said I want and need to keep learning. Add to this I have been wanting to keep my options open. Plus I am interested in the experience of training and competing with new team mates. Also I love the idea of working with Duncan again in some way. The transfer of knowledge and insights to younger athletes is appealing. 

Here's the kicker...

I am also scared. Scared that if I continue I will do more damage. Scared that if I don't it will be worse for not being active. This I fear is the true challenge I face. To walk the fine line between the two worst case scenario's. I believe what I am doing is helping my back, but I also know how easy it is to over do it. 

Question then is... Can I manage this aspect of my body, mind, emotions and still get the absolute maximum out of myself from a performance stand point?


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