The shadow of the valley of motivation

Ironically, considering I’m just a few days downstream of running 50 km, what doesn’t hurt is my legs. No, instead, what hurts is my upper body — everything above the waist. Everything.

I’m taking five days off running as a precaution against overtraining. Historically the only time I know when to slow down is when my musculoskeletal system abruptly tenders its resignation. Wednesday seemed a good time to go back to the weightroom. I hadn’t been there since 6 April. First, I stopped going when I went to Calgary. Then I decided to rest until after the half marathon on 2 May. Then I decided to take it easy until after the 50 km race.

You know how it goes: an excuse here, an excuse there.

So I sucked it up and went to the gym on Wednesday. I am not a bodybuilder. (Shocking, I know.) I do a cycle of one set of fifteen exercises through all muscle groups. I lift like I run: I concentrate on form, not appearance. Two counts up, four counts down. Form, form, form. I’m going to need those joints later.

I tortured my legs for five hours on Sunday and they feel fine. I lifted weights for an hour yesterday, but today it’s uncomfortable to even lay on the couch.

The toughest time to train, for me, is the valley between motivational peaks. When pumped, it’s easy to go to the gym or to go running, whether by desire or habit. Similarly, when not motivated, it’s easy to stay home and do something else (read: do nothing). After the race, motivation goes down into the valley.

How do professionals do it? How does someone, say, Kobe Bryant or Michael Phelps, come off the high of a championship, rest, then voluntarily go back and obliterate themselves into shape for a performance that is over the horizon? I suppose that it helps when your vocation is aligned by a regular set of challenges.

So what do you do when you’re a casual — but serious, harrumph harrumph — athlete? Set your own challenges, I guess.

Next up: the Escarpment Trail Run, 25 July 2010, in the Catskill Mountains. There’s nothing going on in this valley anyway, so let’s head for the mountains.

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