Overtraining – A chase for more and more

Overtraining is a keyword every athlete has already been confronted with during his/her career.
Being it in magazines, blog posts or by experience, we all know its existence flying above us.
We always hope it will never affect us. It can happen to anybody sooner or later.
But as long as it is off the table, we continue to act like any other day.
After all… Why stressing out about something that didn’t happen yet?

While I was training for the Berlin Marathon, it never crossed my mind a second to be overtrained.
Rather did I felt like missing something and chasing for more.
In fact, I was always wanting to push one more session, even though I ended up frustrated at the end.
Despite signs of exhaustion, the loss for the fun of running, I pushed through.
So, when it hit me at the Berlin Marathon last Sunday, I first cried.
Like I wrote about my marathon preparation in the last article…
similarly to my training, my marathon was ugly and two-faced.

Are the results an outcome of the preparation?
Maybe.
Overtraining?
What a joke.
When it hit me last Sunday, I first cried.
Frustration. Pain. False pride.
And a shame to feel relieved.

“There is a freedom waiting for you,
On the breeze of the sky,
And you ask “What if I fall?”
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?!
– Erin Hanson

 

 

The little rebel in me

There is one thing I hate (together with bad wine and bad food)
It’s when someone dares to tell me I can’t do or achieve something.
Like really? Did I miss something here?
Ha-Ha-Ha. But my dear, what the heck do you think you are?
Yeah, this is what I was thinking.
I mean you know, like the police tell you “No ma’am you can’t park here”
Or your father just destroying all your plans for the night.
Like seriously?! See this is exactly how to wake up the little rebel in me.

At this moment, I don’t know why I have an AHA-moment you know.
Like the one where you stand still, very calm on the outside,
just looking at the person in the eyes without saying a damned word.
But deep inside your heart, you feel this fire burning.
And then this little voice in your head talking to that person.
Aha… I can’t do this.
Ok… Watch me.

Every time I run a marathon I just set a time.
And I run it. It always works.
Oh no, wait, that was before the key word overtraining popped up.
It always worked.
Even if my marathon preparation went crap, I wanted to believe in myself again.
So I told to myself, that I could run a personal best, and beyond.
I wanted to hit 3:19 H.
Utopia? No! Overtraining? I didn’t know.

 

Delusion

Noun | de-lu-sion| \di-ˈlü-zhən, dē-\
: a belief that is not true : a false idea.
Something that is falsely or delusively believed or propagated.
More or less.

Anyway. I had a crap preparation. A crap emotional state since January.
A lot going on in my life. With this in mind, I still believed that I would run a PB.
That PB. The 3:19H kind of PB.

So, in the idea of delusion, you deny overtraining. It doesn’t even cross your mind.
That’s the condition. Otherwise it wouldn’t work.
If you acknowledge it and still, run for PB, that wouldn’t be smart.
It would be silly. Like really.

From Friday (BIB pick-up) to Sunday, around 10K, I believed in it.
I was hanging to this goal so hard, it was difficult to let go.

I told it to everyone who was ready to listen.
What do you want to run? A PB!
What PB?
An overtraining kind of PB tried to whisper Ms. Wise
A 3:19H kind of PB screamed Mr. Belief!
Wow cool! Yeah, I don’t know.

 

Alone together

Running a marathon is a bit like dancing on techno.
Before I used to be dancing all around Berlin every weekend.
Now I am running every weekend,
chasing time, emotions, a feeling that I can’t describe
because I never really found it again after my Cortina adventures.

See when dancing on techno,
Everybody seems to be alone.
We all hear the same track, all move in the same way,
but let’s face it. It’s not hip hop. You can’t really make a group dance out of it.
Well. Yeah. I know some people can.
It’s just you are alone together.

And running a marathon is kind of the same.

overtraining-hard-time
Digging deep already! Photo credit – MarathonFoto

Race- Day! The start

Sunday I arrived at the start. And I felt alone. I saw Gerrit. I could have stayed.
But I also had this need. I didn’t feel happy. Nor sad.
I was just there. I needed to be alone.
So many people. I am not used to it anymore.
It felt like being the new at school.
We are all here to do the same. But you are alone.

Alone together.

I went to my block. Everything was annoying.
The people trying to cut the line, because they are too scared to miss the start.
15 minutes to go. Like seriously?
These two borderline arrogant guys that are so excited, it feels like two roosters escaped the chicken coop.
And, GOLD PRICE for them, these people, you don’t know why, they have an H on their BIB, but they’re here.
With you. In block E. Just like this. And it’s normal.

Is it me or are the people here happy?
Gosh, give me a break! I am just joking.
Being a bit cynic.
I love when people are happy.
No, really.

 

Why is everyone so shiny?

The gun goes off. For the elites of course.
You, you have to wait.
I feel tired. But I slept 10H.
It’s us. Slowly the wave starts to move.
Still denying overtraining, you start running, and start passing people.
You know, all the H-Blocks or also E-Blocks who should be in H.

Let’s do this. 4’40/KM pace. Easy. I haven’t trained for the last two weeks.
Just tapering. Strong session at my magic osteopath.
What could go wrong?

Ehm. Overtraining maybe? Oh please.

I printed the course in my head, wrote my times on my wrist.
I didn’t put the usual winner PB nail polish on.
And I didn’t write my quote on the legs.
A sign? Jinx and bad luck do not exist in a marathon.
Listening to your body is the key.

 

And, are you?

First KM, ok. I can do this. I feel like it. I am good.
Second KM. Cold shower.
Sweating like I am having an outbreak of fever.
I am completely soaked. It’s cold. Now it’s warm.
Cold again. Warm. Something is wrong.
I feel so dehydrated. So thirsty.

KM5. Heart rate 220 bpm.
Something is wrong. There you are.
All the blinkers are on alert level code Overtraining!
O-V-E-R-T-R-A-I-N-I-N-G
Damned girl.
But no. You have something to prove, you silly young stubborn addicted runner.
Yes, that’s me.

It’s too full here. Take me back to the mountains.

I grab some water. Screening the people.
Is it me or is the course of the Berlin Marathon hilly?
Since when is this course hilly?
Oh come on girl, you can run an ultra in the mountains.
Yeah but I didn’t sign up for hills in Berlin.
Really? Do you want to discuss that now? For maybe 0.5m of ascent?
Just shut up.
The legs are heavy. Already.
Oh boy. It’s going to be long 3:19H
(note the persistence and consistency here)

 

In or Out?

KM 7. Heartrate 211 bpm.
What if I collapse?
No, maybe it’s because of all the people around that my watch indicates such a high heart rate.
Just continue. Don’t look at your watch anymore.
Oh, that’s your home. You have your key. You could pull out the race now.
Come on, get your ass to the half-marathon mark. After it’s just 20K more.

overtraining-looking-at-my-home
You can see it. I was really looking at my home, thinking to pull out. Credits to MarathonFoto

Seems like something is wrong. If I see Chloe or someone I know, I stop.
Oh, what a strong spirit girl. Really? Are you going to give up? What about all these months of training?
Where are the people?
Come on, don’t be a wimp. You know you can do this.
Yes, I know. But something doesn’t feel right here.

KM11. Heartrate 216 bpm.
Ok, this is not right. It’s not good.
I feel dizzy. So, focus on your breath!
What is this? Of course! Pain in the adductors.
Fuck it. Really? Like now?
Obviously, I should pull out.
Ej! Just continue. The pain will pass.

What if I collapse? Is my heart really able to deal with it?
Do you really want someone to call your mother?
Because you collapsed? For a PB? A race?
Stop being so dramatic.

KM12. Heartrate 229 bpm.
Is it really worth it?
I can’t stand the music anymore.
Everything feels wrong.
Take me back to the mountains.

 

Are you really collapsing for a PB?

KM12.98. I pulled out.
It’s not worth it.
Something is wrong since your last 5K on the track last Wednesday.
Or since your last 10K? Since the first time, you started crying in the middle of your training?
Deeply you know it.

I sit on the side of the road. Ashamed. I feel like being a loser.
Your second DNF of the year. Starting and closing 2016 with a DNF.

The first call goes to Iwi. Like in Portugal.
You were strong until now, no crying. But then her voice.
“Eh. Hello? Honey? What is it?”
– I couldn’t. I pulled out.
You explain what you have.And there it is.

She makes an assumption. Overtraining.
And you keep repeating it to yourself.
It can’t be. Overtraining.

You are crying.
Frustration. Pain. False pride.
And a shame to feel relieved.

Yes. Relieved. The pressure is out.
Your heart rate is still playing wild like you would be watching Resident Evil 6
(yes, sorry, this one is scary!)
But you feel relieved.

You take your BIB out. The chip.
And you walk toward the metro station.
“Oriane? Everything’s fine?”
Joyce. Her smile, the look on her face.
She speaks. She knows. It’s comforting.
Everything will be fine. It happened to me too.
She hugs me. A big hug.
I really needed that. Thank you here again.

I was beating myself up during the whole training.
Trying to find out what was wrong.
Blindly listening to others talking about my performance.
Instead of listening to my heart and my body.
And finally, someone puts a word to it.
Overtraining.
Really?

 

Overtraining – the best lesson to learn from

The diagnosis fell on Monday.
Doctor, cardiologist, everyone agreed after seeing my training and “race” stats.
Overtraining.
Still, they want to exclude any risks of myocarditis so I will have to go through some more tests next week.
But they actually agreed after Monday’s checks and ultrasounds.
Truly, chasing for more isn’t healthy.

I think it was important to realize for me, that it is not about the time.
In fact, running isn’t about time, miles or stats. Not anymore.

Well. And I always thought I wasn’t doing enough.

I grew up this weekend. Well actually, I have the feeling I am becoming a grown-up. A little bit.
Like really. Don’t laugh. It’s serious 🙂
And I don’t say that because my white hairs are spreading like fire in a dry forest.
My wisdom-hair. Wis-hair.

Even if it’s not clear in my head yet. I learned a lot last weekend.
It felt like an eye-opener.
Looking back, I am happy I took that decision.

overtraining-cover

 

Finding the love again…

On Saturday before the race, I was talking at this vegan event organized by Laura & Jan.
Seems like people were actually listening to my crazy shit.
I can almost imagine how it looked from the outside.
Me, talking about my race in Barcelona, about why I love to run in the mountains.
Talking about this kind of ecstasy when you rush downhill.
These perfect landscapes you don’t see anymore because you are pushing beyond yourself.
And these lovely people, thinking “is she totally crazy or what?”

I loved talking to these people. Probably one of the best experience of the weekend.
Because when I look back on these two days, it hits me in the face.
And reminds me what I love about running.
Why I run.
And the contrast with Sunday is just incredible.
Because I hated every minute of it.
I love the Berlin Marathon. But not this time.

I used to be a time chaser. Maybe it still part of me.
But right now. I know it’s my love for the mountains that will help me find my love for running again.
I have to start over. Step by step.
Like a relationship. Something got broken.
I and my beloved running shoes need to fix this.

 

…and start from scratch (almost)

 

“You know what??? Starting all over again, even though today sucks… even though you are disappointed, means strength. It means strength and focus and dedication. And that’s what you always had and never lost. We love you.”Maty’comment after my DNF.

 

But not yet.
I feel like I need to recover and probably try other things.
Another reason is that the doctor says so too.
Therefore, no running for three weeks. At least.
One of my athletes ran her PB on Sunday.
And when I was really hitting the bottom she wrote me:

“Sometimes things happen in life because it has to be that way. I found my love for running after my DNF at Piztal! And you really helped me a lot.” – Ela.

 

While reading this and all the other messages I received on Instagram, Facebook, private messages…
I feel so blessed to be surrounded by these loving community, amazing friends, and virtual friends.
People who touch your heart with words without having met them in your entire life.
Really grateful for so much love. Here thank you again for all the inspiration and the strength you are sending to me since Sunday.

Seems like I really need a break, so I will see you soon.
On the trails. For fun.
For the love.
Time passing by with me not giving a shit about it.
Love.
O.

 

5 Comments

  1. Love this words, Oriane.
    You know the path, follow it!
    <3

  2. I think you made the right choice. You are doing great you inspire me to run thats for sure! Keep it up friend.

    • Oriane

      Just realized I didn’t answered to your lovely comment. Thanks a lot Ivanna.
      For reading and taking the time to comment everytime. Talk soon :*

  3. This brought back memories of the LA Marathon in 2015. Went in overtrained, with injuries, knees taped. The temps and humidity did not help either. But I went to the start line chasing a PB and BQ (missed it by 4 mins last time) so you can see where my priority was at that time. At mile 13, I saw my sister and told her I could not continue to maintain my pace…something was wrong. My heart rate high. She jogged with me for a bit to talk it out, but we both knew. She understood because she was a runner. I had an out at that point, but I told her I would finish the run today and forget about chasing times…just run it out as best I can. It was ugly. It was painful. It was one hour past what I wanted to finish. At mile 23, my husband gave me a smile and said, “see you at the finish.” He knew I struggled. There were no other words.

    We run our bodies down, take it for granted until that moment it decides for you it had enough. I learned a lot that day, too. Had to find the love again. Now I run for me, for fitness first. Not times or PB or BQs. Because now I figure once you love it again and take better care of yourself first then everything else falls into place.

    I loved this blog. The person telling it. And you are stronger for making that ultimate decision to step back and re-group. Much love!

    Liza, Lake Tahoe

    • Oriane

      Dear Liza. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. It really moved me, because I can understand what you’ve been through.
      I am truly happy that you found your love for this amazing sport again. And when I see you’re writing from Lake Tahoe, I think it would be tragic not to love running anymore.
      Take care of yourself, and thanks again for reading the blog. Such feedbacks are really gold.
      Love from Berlin.
      Oriane

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