When it comes to endurance training (or really any physical activity), you need to challenge your body to go beyond what it can currently do. Sometimes that means more time. Sometimes it means more distance. And sometimes it means more speed. Doing all of those things can cause change as your body adapts to the stresses you place upon it. Think about it. If you're not challenging yourself, you're not making change.
But, at what point does your body stop adapting? And at what point do all of those stresses add up and start abusing your body instead?
I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Currently, my body is revolting. I add more and more stresses upon it each week and little by little it fights back. I'm tired. I'm gaining an ungodly amount of weight. I'm never fresh. Sure, the 10 to 12 hours per week of training (which will double in the coming weeks) is making me fitter. It's building my endurance. But, at the same time, I feel weaker and weaker.
Don't get me wrong, on occasion I have those "magic" days where workouts seem effortless. But, more and more, I am fighting to get through. Pushing myself past the voices in my head and the weakness in my muscles to finish.
I think it's hard to know when to stop. There is something to be said for pushing through fatigue. It can pay off huge during those ugly moments on race day. And let's not forget those workouts where you feel fine but you lack the motivation to give it your all. Those are the workouts that you need to push through to shut your mind up and show it that your body is stronger.
But, what if you can't tell the difference? I've had a hard time figuring out where to draw the line. And an even harder time determining if I am doing myself any good or whether it be best to stop the abuse and call it a day.
During my swim this morning, I called it quits. I knew I could finish it. But, I knew that if I did continue it would be a half-assed effort. Eventually, as I held back tears with each lap, I knew that my mind and body were weak and I couldn't take much more.
It's workouts like this (and others over the past few weeks) that have me questioning why I keep pushing myself so hard. Why I even want to tackle 140.6. And when my body is just going to say enough is enough.
Ultimately, I come back to not wanting to quit. I feel like I have something to prove, despite having no one who expects anything from me. I know that no one will feel let down if I stop or be disappointed if all my free time wasn't spent training, eating and sleeping.
I know it's just the voice in my head telling me that changing my own game plan isn't OK. But that little voice is hard to ignore ...