For whatever reason, I’ve felt off this past week. And it didn’t make sense.
Even though nutrition, workload, and recovery remained constant, there were bizarre feelings popping up during and after training sessions. In the water, I felt dizzy, inebriated, and basically like I had an altered state of mind. And doing flip turns didn’t exactly help. In the saddle, I felt sleepy. Extremely sleepy. Like I could take a nap during hill repeats. And on the run, I felt lethargic. My legs turned over, but it seemed like I was moving in slow motion.
These feelings followed me to work, too, and refused to relent. I’d be writing, typing an email, talking to a coworker—all normal things—when I would zone out and forget what I was doing. I tried to cover it up, but people definitely took note. After all, I’m usually a ball of energy, and folks noticed I wasn’t acting like myself.
Having off days is part of life. One of the deans at my alma mater said to always remember the highs would pass and the lows would pass. This advice became my mantra, and I kept telling myself, “I’ll be more like myself tomorrow,” but when Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday passed without improvement, I wasn’t sure what to think: What is wrong with me?
On Thursday night, I talked to one of the Full Throttle Endurance coaches and explained what had been going on. Yes, I was still bringing it to work and workouts—hey, no excuses—but clearly, I wasn’t 100 percent with it. He had an interesting insight: My next race takes place in one week (ekkk!), but several people are racing this weekend, including teammates I train alongside regularly (like people in my swim lane, in my cycling group, etc.). Perhaps I’m feeling the effects of their taper.
Ding, ding, ding!
Based on this theory, I have a self-diagnosis: You know sympathy pains? I’ve been suffering from sympathy taper crazies.
So how come I didn’t experience these side effects last year? Since I trained with the three-day-a-week group, everyone had basically the same race schedule; this meant we would build, taper, and, you guessed it, race together. We synced up.
This season, however, people in the five-day-a-week program have different goal races (short- vs. long-course). And folks follow different training schedules too. For example, my training partners were MIA this week (due to sickness, work obligations, etc.), and when they did attend practice, they didn’t complete the entire workout—because they were tapering.
You can’t let outside factors affect training too much, but it felt weird to log laps in the pool and loops in Central Park without my “normal” people. Yes, I executed my workouts, but everything felt off. And that makes sense since I’m used to spending two-plus hours everyday with these folks, and suddenly I’m not.
Even though physically I seemed fine, it was mentally where problems arose—and those feelings only come when I’m tapering. From Monday through Friday morning, I felt extremely unsettled. Training was getting done, but since my teammates weren’t doing it all with me, it was different; it was fun, but nowhere near as much fun. I hit a low Thursday night, but my mood slowly shifted after Friday’s ride. Yeah, I still felt off, but I experienced a sense of calmness. I knew everything would be OK and work itself out. It reminded me of the day before a race: trusting my training, remembering I’ve put in the work, and knowing everything will be fine once I get in the water.
Bottom line, my sympathy taper crazies prove I’ve become emotionally attached to Ironman Eagleman 70.3. Which is interesting since I have zero plans to tackle this distance and/or this race specifically … when I do, it will be at Syracuse 70.3. But that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, even though this scares me—being so concerned about a race I’m not doing—it shows how close my teammates and I have become.
Let’s cross our fingers and hope I don’t experience back-to-back weeks of taper crazies. T-minus one week until Pat Griskus!
Have you experienced sympathy pains, stress, etc.?