Mastering the Mood

Posted: January 19, 2013 in Motivation

Training has taken a very different twist so far this year.  No longer am I working toward a particular goal or commitment but, rather, simply to maintain my sanity in light of recent events; the original motto for 2013 was supposed to be “for fun” but, so far, it has been more “for survival”.

I will be the first to admit that the 2012 year ended with barely a whimper as far as training goes.  The only physical exercise I ever really committed to regularly was pushing myself away from the table after dinner; this also constituted my daily ‘mental toughness’ conditioning as well since actually leaving the table in the first place was something I did rather begrudgingly.  My motivation in most regards has been totally shot and my mood is a total bag of balls.  As it turns out, mood is something that needs to be exercised as well.  Who knew?

Pre-Ironman, I figured it would be easy to get back into a weekly routine as I had just finished living, eating and shitting on a pre-determined schedule for the past four years.  If it didn’t involve swimming, running, or biking it probably didn’t register so much as a blip on my radar, but ‘recovery’ was definitely part of that schedule.  I thought I’d just kick back for a few weeks after the event, relax, enjoy a few wobbly-pops (mission accomplished), maybe a few burgers (ditto), and polish up my Ironman medal daily until I was ready to climb back in the saddle and make my next great big bid for greatness.  Yeah, right.  Enter the Ironfunk.

Sure, I did a few productive things like row a half marathon, attend a few cross-fit classes, as well as eat a shitload of gingerbread houses but, really, I wasn’t inspired to do much else.  Making matters worse, when I was training seriously this past summer I nary saw another runner out on the road anywhere, but now, whether it be a New Year’s resolution thing or not, they’re literally coming out the woodwork.  I literally see runners pass by along the main road behind my house every few minutes or so while I’m still inside being mocked by Super Mario.  Furthermore, I regularly subject myself to reading the status updates from all my tri-buddies about all the great training sessions they’re currently doing while I can hardly move my ass off the couch without the aid of a forklift.  The fuck?

Making matters even worse, both my parents have recently been diagnosed with advanced stages of the ‘Big C’ which will require them to undergo on-going treatment programs simultaneously.  Oh joy.  This has meant that more than one training session has been postponed or canceled altogether in lieu of another long drive to the hospital (nearly 100k away).  Hardly the fresh start I was hoping for.  But what can you do?  They’re family and they obviously take precedence.

So in lieu of all this, I’ve already decided that 2013 is going to be about living healthily, reacquiring my base fitness and having more of this here ‘fun’ that I keep hearing people talk about.  But even that can be daunting when every waking moment is either spent in the car, on the phone with one doctor or another discussing treatment plans that have more  random detail than the Bieber murder plot, or sitting at bedside at the hospital.  Life is seldom fair.  However, I have been sensing the need to do “something”…so that’s good.  Perhaps there is light at the end of this tunnel; ‘Every great journey begins with a single step’, or some weird Chinese fortune cookie bullshit like that, right?

Since New Year’s Day, Kelly and I have officially and actively started our “healthy” eating regiment again and I have already lost 10lbs in the first week alone.  Yes, I know it was all the super easy water weight but, still, it counts.  Plus, the urge to be active is also returning albeit very slowly.  Maybe it has something to do with making an improvement in my diet and, consequently, my energy levels, or maybe I just feel the urge to suffer on my own as I work out the day’s events in my head; maybe it’s a combination of both.  It’s only been one week so far but, as it is, I run when I want to hurt, cry, be alone or, whatever, and I swim when I don’t want to think at all.  Spinning is just something I typically do now at home while Kidzilla is practicing her Wii skills or doing her homework (i.e. when I can).  Maybe, if I’m lucky I can slip in the odd spin class if I’m able to get out of work early enough.  Exercise is now more about having a daily coping mechanism than it is a way of establishing any certain level of physical prowess. As such, my 2013 race season, with the exception of some planned charity events, is still pretty much up in the air.  Perhaps a few relays, some shorter (and cheaper) community ‘Fun Runs’, and, hopefully, more volunteering and coaching opportunities with kids.  There has to be something else to look forward to at the end of the day besides another afternoon waiting by the phone for doctors to call, but it doesn’t have to consume me either.

I think it’s because of this specific lack of pressure to perform, that my motivation is slowly ebbing back.  I’ve even begun tracking data on my overall mood just as I would for any of my usual workout results.  Now, instead of recording my heart rate, pace, distance, time, etc., I’m monitoring more of the following:

Motivation to Train:

  1. You’re kidding, right?
  2. Reluctant
  3. Good
  4. That’s all you got?
  5. Bring on Kona!


  1. Roman orgy of calories
  2. Poor
  3. A cheat here, a cheat there
  4. Take that, Simmons!
  5. Andy Schleck


  1. Keep your distance
  2. Oscar the Grouch meets Genghis Khan
  3. Good
  4. Happier than a bird with a French fry
  5. It’s good to be king

It’s a little more subjective to be sure but, already, I am able to make the distinct correlation between my lack of motivation to train to particularly poor diet days.  Likewise, I am sensing my confidence returning as my mood has been gradually improving despite other setbacks in my personal life.  So while life unfolds it’s master plan for this family of mine, I’m going to press on as best I can.  Should I miss the odd workout it’s not the end of the world.  I’m going to slip in the odd run in the evenings when the child is in bed and encourage Kelly to make peace with the trainer in the living room.  Perhaps this might also be a good time to reconnect with my yoga.  I’ve even consoled myself this afternoon by drafting up my tentative 2013 event schedule which I will post shortly.  At least that puts a few things on my radar to look forward to while we endure everything else.

Kona is still in the plan but I need a little time to take care of myself.  And so the next chapter begins.

  1. Lori says:

    Hey Terry-
    I hear ya!
    Life has a way of interfering with our best laid plans.
    I have had to settle for exercising, alone, as an emotional outlet as opposed to training with a group to compete
    But, I am grateful for the diversion while dealing with the challenges life has thrown me.
    Keep yourself healthy while dealing with your parents’ illness.
    Saying a prayer for them……

  2. Saskia says:

    Work on speed! And for the record, I never put your intestines on any type of schedule, that’s your own doing. Lots of strength Terry!

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