Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Body shut down.

I had decided to give the world cup in Houffalize a miss, so that I could have a short break from racing and a long weekend (Monday was a bank holiday) of training and relaxing and catching up with friends and get done some stuff that just hasn't been done because I haven't really been at home for a while. The plan was to get in some really long training sessions in the Wicklow Mountains, because I haven't done any long spins recently.

Well, it wasn't to be. The few days after I came home from Offenburg on Tuesday I was still fine, and I started going out on Saturday morning on the first of my long spins, but an hour into it I started feeling sh*t. Every little issue started to get at me, for example my gears that skipped a little or me not being able to ride over a small rock, my choice of clothes (I was a bit cold), everything. I had absolutely no motivation or power left to go on. I sometimes get these periods of extreme tiredness, so I called Ryan and decided to cut the training short and go home, relax and have a better session on Sunday. But when I was home, I just felt so physically and mentally shattered, I was wondering why I was doing it all to myself.

Why was I pushing myself so hard and for what? Why spend all this time and money on mountain biking and racing? I was hoping a good night's sleep would fix it, and tried to go out on Sunday morning, but returned back home after 50 minutes. And I was supposed to do 5hours! I had totally and utterly run out of every ounce of energy in my body. I had bonked. My body had decided that enough is enough and had shut down. Sorry, engine has stopped until further notice.

I tried to figure out how this had happened? But there are sooo many possible reasons. Maybe it was just the accummulated stress and tiredness from organizing the trips and travelling around the world for the last few months to go to races and trying at the same time to keep my PhD supervisor happy with my progress. Maybe it was my vegan diet that could have brought on a protein bonk (it's hard to get in vegan protein in Germany where they eat meat with meat). Maybe I was low on iron. I felt that this tiredness was at least as much mental as it was physical. I just felt sooo run down!

So, the solution was to tackle this on all possible fronts. First of all I went out and had a huge portion of beef for the iron and protein (me veganism is not due to some ethical issues, more due to my belief that a diet avoiding animal protein, especially dairy is better on your health in the long term, but I think I haven't quite figured out the right amounts of the right sources of alternative non-animal protein yet), took some iron supplements (might just be a placebo effect, but I feel it helps), had a nice relaxing walk and chat with Ryan and had another really early night.

The next morning I was still not perfect, but some of my motivation had returned and I went out on my bike to do a drill which I know makes me feel good (it's a drill I don't do very often and it makes me feel good because every time I do it, I get further, so you can see improvement). Then I went on a run with my good friend who understands the pressures I put myself under. Nothing clears your mind more than a good rant among friends on a mountain run. She's pointed me into the direction of trying some meditation to combat the stress. I've done a bit of research and think it's definitely an important component that I need to add to my life to keep the balance.

Anyhow, the combined effect of proper rest, nutrition, and socializing has had the desired effect and I am now feeling stronger and better and ready to take on the next challenge, which will be the next UK NPS in Dalby this weekend.


Dave Irvine - MTB said...

Don't give up Mel! Looking forward to seeing you guys in action at Dalby. If you need a laugh, then come and watch a novice vet. The practice lap might just scare me off though... New World Cup course...eek!

Sally Bigham said...

Hi Mel,

Sorry to hear that you haven't been feeling too good. Based upon what happened to me last year, my advice is to go to your GP asap and ask to have a full blood count. After Mayhem I found out that I was anaemic. I felt really tired and didn’t want to ride anymore. You might be fine but there is no harm double checking, not least because you are a female athlete that doesn’t eat meat (like me).

Have a good ride at Dalby,
Sal :0)