The very fact I did not miss my flight because I turned up a day late and that I have actually brought my bike shows I am already off to a better start than my last two trips to Lanzarote. And WOW I actually have swimming, cycling AND running on my plan for the next nine days… hard to take in all at once I know, breathe!
This time last year I didn’t last 10 strides of my Lanzarote “arrival” run before having to practically crawl back to the apartment and spend the next hour on the phone to Mum in tears lying in bed as moving hurt too much. Little did I know that five weeks later I would have been diagnosed with a sacral stress fracture that would mean I had to start reshaping my life, training and choices.
Then back in December I not only had a “deactivated” knee (lazy ****!) but also a broken foot so yup once again Lanzarote was going to be more of a holiday with some swimming than anything else. However, it was one of the most important parts of my recovery and come back as it gave me an insight into myself as a person (not athlete!) and perspective on what I needed to move forward – thank god my Coach made me go to “chill the **** out!”
But the reality is the last few trips of pain and disappointment have led me to now – physically and mentally strong to have a solid nine days of training with some great friends under the sun. Therefore I thought it only right to share a few pointers I have gained from each trip (swim camp!) in Lanzarote that have made it all worth it and may help others overcome a tough, dark and challenging time – and hey didn’t she say: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…!
1. Health – one thing that I cannot iterate enough and then reiterate, especially to athletes, is that whatever you want to achieve you CANNOT and will NOT get sustainable performance without your basic health being good. Performance comes from health and not the other way around, if your body is struggling how can you think it will perform to its best – it can’t and won’t as it will break down. This can be hard to grasp when you are trying to push your limits due to social media, our society and certain Coaches pushing these performance gains and how they will make you this or that. However, the truth is yes these performance gains work but their benefit is marginal and only apply if you have the foundation to build on, a healthy body – you can’t tile your roof if you don’t have a house in the first place?!
For me this was a massive break through, thanks to Renee it was blatantly obvious that my health was anything but ideal however through a new nutrition focus this could be reversed and managed to ensure down the line I have my body in the best possible position to not only live my life to the full but also train as and when I need to, especially after quite a few years of anything but, mah bad!
2. Perspective – I touched on this in a blog I wrote shortly after my hip injury, however it is very important to coping and getting through tough times so I am going to repeat it. When something hits you, whatever it may be, at the time it feels endless, that there is no way out and you are alone, but it doesn’t have to be the case. Firstly, think about time – it never stops, which means that this dark patch will pass, however uncomfortable it may be or long it feels, but if you ride the storm you will come out the other side. Focus on each day as it comes and try focusing on making that day as good as it can be. Those days will turn into weeks, months and soon a year and you will realise how far you have come
Secondly, surround yourself with the people you trust and care about. We have to all admit having a good laugh with friends is one of the best remedies to pain – and hey its OK to laugh at your situation, definitely made the second trip in Lanzarote, yup off swimming again – anyone else with me?!!!
3. You – to be the best athlete you can be you have to be the best person you can be.
But Eloise how does this help with my watts and splits?! – I hear you cry.
Well, I am going to explain… Imagine a great training session or race when you have been relaxed, happy, maybe have your family and friends supporting. Now imagine the opposite – a session or race when you have been stressed or felt the pressure, thinking about that endless to do list or that argument you had with a loved one. My bet is the first session/race was a much better in terms of power, times, result etc. as you were just there getting it done, the second you weren’t there or ready for the session/race so of course it would be lacking.
For me this as a break through during my December trip in Lanzarote. No way was I fitter as I had had the most useless month of training in November, but every session was hit and times slashed. This is because I was relaxed and happy thanks to some great friends making me laugh and so was just there (poolside!) when I needed to be. This I am still working on and building on how to get myself this happy and relaxed athlete more of the time so when I turn up for “work” and I am ready.
To arrive at this point you have to be pretty brutal and see how your lifestyle, work and training balance stack up – be honest with yourself; are you lonely? are you bored? do you want to change something in your training plan? And then own it! If you want it – go get it, don’t feel you are being selfish or petty as at the end of it to be you is what is needed to be that top athlete you are aspiring to be, so don’t shoot yourself in the foot.
4. Live a little – Pretty self-explanatory but needs to be said, don’t take yourself too seriously as one it gets boring and two it is unsustainable. As I have said before, and links in with above, as an athlete you need to be able to turn off and on, because how can you turn it up when it counts if you are always turned on – by definition you can’t. For example, however much I love what I do and feel so grateful I am able to do what I love day in day out, I do love being a normal 23 year old and seeing my friends. This is why I need and enjoy full rest days as and when, to turn off and just be me without having to think about pool times, washing my bike or tying laces. And yes this might also include one too many coffees, a flapjack and/or whatever I feel like as this is what I need to be the best I can be. For me I know I can be very obsessive, over controlling and worry so I need to keep my life in balance to keep me sane and happy while being able to hit it when it counts… nutcase survival skills! So work out what you need and do it your way, no one else’s.
A massive thank you to everyone who has got me back on two feet and two wheels, made me wiser and made me laugh – bring on the next nine days at TriSports Lanzarote then weeks, months and years of fun!
“Change is inevitable, progress is optional” – Tony Robbins
Lots of love
P.S. While I am away I will posting my rides on Strava (international rules #finallybackonit) and sharing some training insights and sessions on Instagram – so enjoy if you want or don’t bore yourself #lifeistooshort!