Emotional Rescue

Posted: May 8, 2011 in Lifestyle, Motivation
Tags: , ,

I have been learning something rather, well, unexpected about myself.  This recent discovery has been exposing itself to me piece by piece during my massage sessions with Jen (my soon-to-be-fully-licensed massage therapist).  But before I divulge this little breakthrough tidbit, know first that I don’t consider this revelation to be something necessarily to be proud of and it is therefore still very sensitive to me.

So why am I posting it to a public Internet forum viewable by, like, the entire modernized world?  Well, I did promise myself (and to you) from the very beginning that I would try to be completely true to the story here, or “warts and all as I put it.  So this is one of those not-so-proud posts where I will temporarily pull back the curtain a little bit and expose my soft pink fleshy underbelly for a moment.  So go easy on me.

I have been realizing lately that I have been carrying around some pretty heavy emotional baggage with me while I train.  I didn’t always know it was there so it has never really registered on my training radar before now, so to speak, just chalk it up to normal soreness.  But lately I have been experiencing this certain emotional wash come over me while I’m out and going long whether it’s running, biking, whatever.  I’m not exactly sure about the particulars like ‘where did it come from?’, and the all-important ‘why is it there in the first place?’ …but I do sense it’s there.  There are times where I find myself getting worked up nearly to the point of tears either during or shortly after one of my long workouts.  Why?  Beats the living shit out of me!  What do I have to be upset or anxious about?  Absolutely nothing!  It’s a total mystery…but there it is.

I’m worried now that if left unchecked that this weird emotional boohoo bullshit will eventually manifest itself and erupt more outward and I’ll end up balling like a little school girl during a re-airing of Erin Brockovich.  In fact, I have already experienced getting nearly all weepy at the big pinnacle ‘break through’ moment during an episode of Kitchen Nightmares the other night.  Now, if Gordon Ramsay almost brings you to the brink of an emotional outburst, well, what the fuck?

Even though it doesn’t sit well with the whole tough guy Ironman image, I don’t think that this recent revelation about myself is all that bad either.  In fact, when I do experience these ‘washes’ lets call them; it’s usually over (or after) something positive and otherwise momentous.   In other words, it’s what girls might otherwise refer to as a “good cry”.  I know, I know, it scares me too and it does nothing to boost my pride, let me tell you.  I experienced it first as a lingering stress or tightness in my shoulders; something easy to pawn off as an after effect of long swim workouts, getting accustomed to being back in the aero position on my bike, or just bad posture while sitting at my desk at work.  But eventually, I began to think that this may be something else completely different; albeit, not very adamantly at first.

Why do I bring it up at all? Well, I’m wondering if there is any connection between these washes or and my training.  Are mood swings common amongst endurance athletes, or is it some sort of sign that something else is either going very wrong or maybe needs to be re-addressed?  I dunno.  But I definitely want to stop getting misty-eyed over kittens rolling in toilet paper because that shits hard to live down.

There have been numerous studies examining the effects that overtraining can have on mood, more specifically mood disturbances.  Many researchers believe that when an athlete, and in my case I use that term loosely, specifically endurance athletes, is exposed to overtraining there is a clinically significant reduction in vigor and increases in tension, depression, anger, fatigue, and confusion…or as it is with me, loosing my shit to Gordon Ramsay.  The only problem with all these studies is that they also all associate this ‘Overtraining Syndrome with a decrease in performance which certainly is not the case with me.  Although I do experience anger, depression and tension from time to time, there is nothing wrong (I feel) with my performance.  I’m kicking ass.

So what gives?  Is there anything wrong at all?  I did admit once to experiencing a “welling up of tears” on one of my long runs back in January but it was – and continues to be – all good.  Enter today’s massage.

You may all remember when I first delicately and cautiously tip-toed my way into the world of home massage a few months ago.  At the time I was almost entirely associating massage with it’s multiple restorative benefits.  Now I’m thinking very differently as I experienced something completely new today beyond the usual kneading and massaging of sore limbs and muscles; and no I don’t mean I got a boner.  What did happen was this sense of complete relaxation that fell over my upper body that I haven’t felt for a little while now…and it felt good.  Maybe just the sense of imminent loneness of an otherwise private lifestyle when coupled with the rigors of regular physical and mental duress may cause one to go a bit batty.  All work and no play, right?

However, after today’s massage, I feel recharged once again and ready to take on the world.  Even now, hours later and having already completed one Brick workout this morning, I feel like I could go out and run a half marathon (I’m not going to).  I feel absolutely rejuvenated.  Did it aid in the overall recovery of my overworked and fatigued body?  Absolutely!  But, this time, it also seemed to have aided in the restoration of my spirit to boot.  And that’s definitely Winning.

I think I am also beginning to understand why people might consider themselves as ‘massage addicts’.  I liked this sense of unloading on the mind today as I did on my body…more so than the other occasions (not that I’m complaining about those times mind you).  Don’t worry, I’m not about to go out and get sized for my new leopard-print bodysuit just yet, but I am becoming more comfortable with the oils and lotions and whatnot.  It helps that Jen is already a good friend which also makes the experience fun and educational, although it does worry me that sooner or later she’s going to begin charging me psychiatric fees.

So today, I’m as proud as I am privileged to induct another member into the leagues of Team Tigerrabbit.  Jen, I know it may be causing you the occasional bout of night terrors, but this chubby triathlete sure does appreciate those healing hands of yours and my journey so far to the starting line this year has been easier because of you.  My mind and body thank you.

Bring it on…and pass the tissues while you’re at it.

  1. Emotional Alert: I had a “moment” in the car at a stop light while singing along to ‘Tiny Dancer’ today. Is there no end to it all?

  2. A Friend says:

    Hi Terry.

    Interesting post you made. I, too, occasionally have the emotional ‘wash’ you speak of.

    At first, it was hard to interpret, but, I think after prepping for so long and reaching a certain point of endurance/distance/whatever, I’ve moved to where I can see the finish line. Both, physically and emotionally, I have moved from “shit, I have to do this to prep for my race” to “holy shit, I see it, I can actually see myself doing this and finishing in a vertical position”. When it happens, I know I’m ready to compete. I’ve moved from the ‘training to train’ to ‘training to compete’. My first race this season is next week (Mississauga Half-Marathon), I know I’ll have one more wash and then I’ll be ready for sure.

    And, the last wash of the circuit will come when I see the finish line, because that wash will be one of pride in myself. That’s the best wash of all.

    • I can relate to this very strongly, and I wonder if that’s also a case as I’m currently transitioning between my base periods? Good perspective – thank you. It’s also reaffirming to know that I’m not necessarily going all “Coo-Coo for Cocoa-Puffs”.

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