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