Going through the motions

In the name of being honest, I have a confession to make: I’m going through the motions.

I’ve had a rough month or so, both in regards to my training and in regards to my real life.  Stolen car, stolen bike.  A plethora of relatively small but money-related issues: a parking ticket directly related to a new car, new goggles that broke after two weeks, a hole in my main pair of jeans, just that kind of thing.  All small, but they add up—especially in the shadow of buying a new car.  (And certain issues are being ignored, like the jean issue.  This means I’m wearing the same pair of noticeably-too-short jeans to work every day.)

Just in one day, I broke the heater and air conditioning control knob in my car, I lost my work ID badge, and my tea (which was not the kind I like because they were out) ended up looking like this when I tried to put some creamer in it:

GrossTea
The creamer just… curdled! 😮

My training has mirrored my life.  I’ve been struggling with IT band pain.  I went for my first run in almost two weeks over the weekend and could feel my knee after just a few minutes.  I came back dejected, frustrated, and feeling helpless.  I have yet to go for a ride on my new bike.  I was actually dressed and ready to go on Saturday (it was warm and beautiful!), but the saddle was too high and the seatpost was too long to lower it enough.  So instead of a long ride on Saturday, I had to go for an hour spin inside on Sunday.  All of this is happening in the shadow of a very disappointing marathon and with 20 weeks of very hard training looming.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’m in a rut.  This week, Monday was, well, quintessentially Monday-ish.  As I sat at my desk trying to muster any sort of enthusiasm for my job, I thought to myself, “I wish I could just take the day off.”  And then I remembered my weekend which consisted almost entirely of sitting around thinking that I should be cleaning or writing or coloring or absolutely anything besides scrolling through the same pages on the Internet over and over again.  Then I thought, “Maybe work is okay.”

In short, it’s been one of those days weeks months.

I want to be excited about Ironman training.  I want to be confident that I can do well in August… or at least be confident I can finish the race.  But I simply cannot muster up the energy for those emotions.  All I can manage is showing up.  I show up to the gym or the pool and do my workout.  I’m going through the motions because sometimes, that’s all you can do.  Sometimes, going through the motions has to be enough because it’s all there is.

I want to specify that I think there is a difference between “going through the motions” and the notion of “fake it till you make it.”  When I’ve heard the term “fake it till you make it,” it’s typically been used to describe the act of pretending everything is okay—basically, putting on a happy face and pretending everything is going well, even when it’s not.  I’ve tried that before, and it has never turned out well.  When I say “going through the motions,” I mean something a little different.  I don’t want to pretend that I feel great right now.  I don’t.  I’m frustrated.  I’m cynical.  I’m not motivated.  From experience, I’ve learned that the best way to deal with those negative emotions involves first admitting that I am feeling them.  However, going through the motions—showing up and trying even if I’m not motivated—helps me avoid a spiral into an unhealthy perspective.

It’s times like this, when I have to go through the motions even when I’m not enjoying it, that I have to trust the process.  It’s not just the training process I have to trust, though I do have to trust that if I put in the work, I will gain the fitness I need.  I need to trust my emotional process.  I need to trust my own past experiences and realize that being discouraged now does not mean I will be discouraged forever.  I need to trust that going for a bike ride will make me feel better than not going for a bike ride.  I need to trust that going through the motions now will put me in a far better position once I do become excited about Ironman training again.

And I will get excited about it again.  Once I start running without pain again, once I get on my bike and go for a beautiful ride on a Saturday, once I start being able to swim in lakes and reservoirs again, eventually, something will click into place and I’ll be able to enjoy myself again.  Even now, I find myself experiencing moments where I’m glad to be where I am, whether that is on the bike, in the pool, or at the gym.

SpringMountains
My bike ride on Tuesday was one of those moments

I just keep reminding myself that I’m doing all the right things, even if I am just going through the motions.

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16 thoughts on “Going through the motions

  1. I am so sorry you are going through such a tough time right now!!! My suggestion, at least in the running department, is to just stop and focus on the swim and the bike right now. You have until AUGUST to get that run where you want it to be. Put in a solid bike and swim block and ignore that run for a bit. But in it’s place, I suggest strengthening your hips and getting on your foam roller. I swear by MYRTLs and do them every single time I run – maybe you can do them 3-4 days per week. They take 5 minutes. I know that might not be the answer you want, but the beauty of triathlon is that you have the other disciplines that you can hammer out while you are figuring out your run. I hope you feel better soon, and I hope things start looking up for you! xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’ve actually been doing some hip and glute strengthening stuff– that seems to be the overwhelming advice for IT band pain. I just took a look at the MYRTL stuff, and I’m doing some of that in the routine I put together, so at least I’ve got the right idea! I may start doing that on the days I don’t do my more intense stuff. But hip and glute strength is definitely at the top of my list– I’m trying to get in an hour and a half a week, over four sessions.

      I would be less worried about getting back to running quickly, but I have a half-marathon in the middle of April (Sign up early, I said. Save some money, I said).

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  2. Thanks for the honest post girl! Sometimes showing up is all you need to do- the emotional side of things will come back eventually. I had a bit of a rut in January and I found that once I owned up (by ways of a similar blog post to yours!) I felt so much less pressure on myself, and actually that’s what got me back training again. Good luck, you’ll boss it!

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  3. Hanna @ TheMillennialNextDoor

    I think we’re all going through the motions. I can definitely relate to this – not so much in my running, but in the rest of my life, when ever since I came back from vacation I just can’t muster enthusiasm for anything. It was already bad before, now it’s really bad. It’s winter, I think we’re all going through the motions a little bit. Lack of sunlight, having to constantly deal with shitty weather…it wears on you after a while.

    The distinction you make between going through the motions and fake it til you make it is interesting. I’ve never viewed “fake it til you make it” that way – I always thought it was a reference to just mustering up a smile and a positive thought even when you don’t want to. Studies have actually shown that forcing yourself to smile/laugh actually does make you feel a little bit better. I think you can admit to feeling crummy while also making an effort to be positive and put your best foot forward in spite of it.

    Anyway, hang in there. I think you are just feeling a little burn out from your marathon, which is normal. Going through the motions is helpful but maybe it also would be good to take a little break, too. Jumping from one training cycle to the next is hard on the body and mind and maybe some time to recharge will help you out a bit. Good luck, positive vibes headed your way!!

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    1. I’ve read about those studies about forcing yourself to smile… and I always wonder who the heck they are testing! I think maybe I come at these things from a little bit of a different angle because of my history with depression and anxiety. For me, my biggest self-awareness breakthrough was learning to accept the presence of depression and anxiety in my life instead of feeling like I needed to “beat” it or “get better.” Once I finally gave up the notion that I was “supposed” to be happy the majority of the time, my life got soooo much better. And, oh my gosh, that sounds *so* fatalistic and really, really awful. But it’s not, I promise! It was actually freeing and so, so positive… I just don’t know how to describe it so it sounds that way!

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      1. Hanna @ TheMillennialNextDoor

        No, I get what you’re saying. I won’t pretend to know what it’s like to go through anxiety and depression. Our culture does put a lot of pressure on us to be “happy” all the time and I think it has an affect on everyone. I think it’s really important to be open and honest about true feelings and not pretend to be or feel something that’s not true. Authenticity and honesty are important and I applaud you for keeping it real – I know that’s not easy, especially not in our social media culture. I was recently reading a post on some blog where the blogger said something like “blogging is such a delicate balance. You want to appear personable and relatable, but you can’t overshare. If you talk about the struggles you go through, people think you are a Debbie Downer; if you are happy, people feel like you’re rubbing it in their face and resent that you present your life as a highlight reel.”

        Where I was coming from with my interpretation – and I say this without speaking to the real difficulties that you and others have struggled with – is that we do live in a culture that encourages a lot of pointless negativity and self-absorbed wallowing. I don’t want to sugarcoat or deny my true feelings, but I also don’t want to spread more negativity in the world if i don’t have to (again, NOT saying this is what you are doing! Just something that comes to mind as I write all this). Hope that makes sense. Great discussion and again, I hope you feel better soon!!

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      2. Yes, I do agree with you about the self-wallowing. It’s such a delicate balance, and I do often have to haul myself from the “wallowing” stage to a more presentable self. It’s also a hard balance to attain to be honest about your own feelings but not drag others down. You are spot-on that not spreading negativity is very important (and because of my naturally more negative nature, it is something that I have to watch out for, perhaps more than others… being aware of that is what hopefully keeps me from doing it as often as I might otherwise).

        +1 on blogging being a delicate balance. If you never share struggles, you might be inauthentic. If you share struggles but try not to overshare, you might be vague-blogging. If you share the nitty-gritty, you could be committing the sin of TMI. It’s tough to know how to address the difficult issues.

        Thanks again for the discussion– I love talking about stuff like this. 🙂

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      3. Hanna @ TheMillennialNextDoor

        LOL. “Value-blogging”. Sometimes I marvel at how complicated this has all become. I still remember the days when a blog was basically just a glorified e-diary.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so sorry you’re struggling right now. I agree with you 100% about not “faking it til you make it”. As an alcoholic in recovery, I was often told in AA to do that, and I was always like, “No, I spent my first 35 years faking that I was happy and it never made me become happy.” I like reality, thank you very much.

    That said, I think you are taking the right steps until this wave of bad luck passes. And it will pass. You haven’t given up despite hardships, and that makes you awesome. No faking required 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, faking happiness has never really worked well for me… I used to try very hard to pretend to be happy not for me but for the people close to me. And it was just bad all around. I’m really fortunate now to have people in my life who don’t expect me to do that.

      I’ve actually been feeling a little better already, now that I’ve been able to ride my new bike some and know just how awesome it is!

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  5. Hang in there. I know it’s easy to say being on the outside but I’ve gone through similar feelings — everything is going wrong and you know in the scheme of lift it isn’t the end of the world — but it still REALLY sucks and sometimes you have to be crabby about it.

    I second was Allison says about running and glute/hip strength. I ran on weaknesses and ended up in PT for over a year because one problem corrected exposed another, etc. and it was directly related to my hips, glutes, and everything in the posterior chain.

    Do you do any yoga? There’s some GREAT yoga for runners videos out there (I like Fiji McAlpine and I absolutely hate yoga so that’s saying a lot). Maybe you can add in a day or two of that a week. They’re like 30 minute videos but I find them super effective for stretching and strengthening.

    I hope things get better soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’m able to keep perspective better than I was when I was younger, so I can typically remind myself that things will bet better. I don’t do yoga (I’m really, seriously inflexible), but I’ve been working on hip/glute strength and continue to do so… I’ve got a little routine put together and all that. It definitely seems to be working, if soreness is any indication!

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  6. Thank you for being honest and open, Katie. I have really enjoyed everyone’s comments and think that important points have been brought up. Good luck, I am sure you will pull out of this rut in no time! It’s been a tough stretch but you have some exciting things ahead to look forward to. Have a great weekend girl!

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