Now that the season is over and I had some time to focus on other stuff and overthink my results, it is time to do a recap. A lot of things happened this year, both triathlon and non-triathlon wise. This blog contains the highest highs and lowest lows and some stuff in between I like sharing. And as the title of this blog tells, it has been a hell of a rollercoaster! Glad I love Walibi World and therefore love to ride a rollercoaster :)
In a nutshell; the Mount Everest of my season 2019 was definitely Ironman 70.3 Zell am See by finishing 3rd in my age group and qualifying for the World Championships in Taupo. However, for the people who know me well, it is not fair not to mention my half marathon PR of 1.28.33 at Amsterdam. To be honest, this season showed me the unpredictable and overwhelmingly character of triathlon which I fall in love with. Compared to triathlon events, running races are so overrated (says someone who used to be addicted to running). I guess I am still addicted to running, and I don't want to miss it but triathlon became just even more special to me. My body also loves the combination of swim, bike run and not solely running. Less injuries and less sore legs! Let's say it is a win-win!
I guess talking about the ups is always a lot easier than talking about the lows. And for those who follow me on Instagram or checked out my results page, it seems like everything worked out perfectly for me this year. Luckily that has not been true. I always love the challenges and I wouldn't love triathlon as much if it was as easy that everybody would do it.
At the end of my season last year, I got some foot issues. At first, I thought it was nothing special so I kept training and kept ignoring it for a few months. I even ran the marathon of Berlin with it, ignoring the advice of my coach not to run. At some point, it became un-ignorable (I don't know whether that is a word but it perfectly describes the situation). I saw a few physiotherapists but they were all telling me that it was nothing to worry about and that I should continue training if possible. Writing it down, it sounds strange as well. Usually physiotherapists are the first to tell you to take rest whenever you have minor issues. Too bad that did not happen to me this time. Therefore I tried my best to push through and kept running. In the end, at the end of December, that was not possible anymore. I went to a I podiatrist and got an ultrasound scan. That visit changed my training plan for about 4-6 weeks. NO RUNNING AND NO BIKING was the news. There was evidence of a tibialis posterior tendonitis (For the not so medical people; it is the tendon of the muscle at the inside of your ankle). There was at least one thing I was still allowed to do, the part of triathlon I hate most: SWIMMING. And a bit of lifting without using the legs too much.
Looking back at that period now, I don't know how I got myself through it. Swimming can be such a struggle somedays. I think most triathletes recognize that. One day it feels like you are really flying through the water and the next day it feels like you are drowning. On the contrast, I made a lot of progress swimming. Last year it took me about 40 minutes to swim 1.9KM WITH wetsuit in a half triathlon and this year it took me only 34 minutes (same course, same race to make it a fair comparison). That is a whole lot of progress in only 1 year which shows that consistency and never giving up are the key to succes. So if you ever feel like giving up on swimming, keep going and focus on the drills; it is so worth it. This is also something I should keep in mind because swimming keeps frustrating me every other day since I am not progressing as fast as I want to. Hopefully I am able to keep progressing at some speed this year as well. Will a 30 min wetsuit swim in a half triathlon ever be possible? I will try my best to get close to it in Taupo with swimming 5 times a week focusing on technique.
What is also succes to me, is that my foot taught me to focus on the positive things in life, the things you can still do. It often happened to me that I lost myself in negative thoughts. Thoughts about; 'Will I ever be able to run again', 'I can never finish my half triathlon in June' and 'I can better stop running and triathlon' went cross my mind multiple times. It was really hard to change my mindset once I got stuck in it. The thing that helps me get through it for the short term was eating a lot of chocolate bars. Too bad the feeling was only temporary because I often got sick and felt guilty afterwards. For the long term, I went talking to some professionals about my thoughts which gave me some clear insights and I am really thankful for that. Most of them focused on putting things in perspective, focusing on the things you can do to increase the process of recovery and trying to get your brain a reset to not feel the pain anymore. I am always impatient which does not really help when being injured. I think that is something most triathletes recognize. However, my foot experience was a learning process and a moment when sports and especially injuries bring much more than just a medal at the finish line of a race. It brought me things that can help me in my daily life as well. Note to myself: Things will eventually get better, even if it doesn't feel like it ever will at the moment.
Writing this blog, my foot still hurts every now and then. Yes, I would love to say that it is all gone but that did not happen. Luckily it is under control and it is not holding me back anymore. Somedays it is easier for me to deal with it than other days. But that's life and I guess that makes it interesting right?! Luckily I have a toolbox now to deal with it whenever it got stuck in my mind again. You might be curious what is in the toolbox? One of the tools I learned is trying to think about something else in my body that hurts. Maybe the sore legs during a heavy track session to get my thoughts of my foot. I know it sounds stupid and easy but it took me a long time to get it out of my head. What also really helps is listening to music and sing a song in your head. Or, watching Netflix when riding inside. And when that is not possible, focus on good company during your trainings or the supporters on the sideline in a race. This does not mean that you have to ignore everything you feel, but for an oversensitive triathlete as I am, those tools are necessary to keep training. And it is fair to say that I found the right balance that works for me. But if you ever feel sharp pain in your tendons and muscles, do not hesitate to contact a professional.
Sometimes people think that everything in my life goes so easy and that I am always motivated. Compared to others my life might be fairly easy, but even I sometimes have to put in hard work. Overcoming injuries or other setbacks are a challenge I always accept. Setting big goals and accepting a huge challenge is the part in life I love most. Also an element triathlon brings to me!
I hope this blog showed you some insights in the daily struggles of being me. And helps people to stay positive whenever feeling down when you can't train as hard as you want to. In addition, special thanks to my coach and the people who helped me out when feeling down.
Oh and a secret I always do when having a hard time in training; listen to Kelly Clarkson's song: What doesn't kill you makes you stronger! I love that song and quote. Put it on repeat and just keep going!