Middleman Syndrome, Part 1

Last week I asked myself the question could I be pushing harder? I later posed this question to some of my training comrades in this form: what is your own personal indicator that you’re pushing too hard or just hard enough? One of the coaches (wisely) answered: I follow my heart rate zones religiously.

But, as wise as that response was, it that really didn’t answer the question for me. One can follow one’s heart rate zones to the T during a workout, but there are days when the workouts we have planned are just too intense or challenging for us at all. Even if you’re not struggling with the issues I’m struggling with outside the sport, there are days when you just need to back off; likewise, there are days when, despite lower energy or motivation, you just need to dig in.

The early part of that week found me at the edge of the lake wondering if I should make another pass. In retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t. My strategy to err on the side of caution continues to serve me.

It turned out I was pushing just hard enough.

I rounded out my first full week back since my scan with just under 9 hours of training. I completed my first openwater swim of over 2 miles (almost 2.4, to be exact). I completed a relatively tough ride of about 59 miles, during which I started to bonk at the end but still maintained. This morning’s adventure was a 30-ish-mile bike ride to the beach for a 1-mile-ish swim.

A weird thing has happened: unless there are swells larger than me, I am not remotely uncomfortable with waves or choppy water. Although I am still toward the back of the pack among the swimmers on my Swim Team, I am way faster than I was, and I have even improved since joining the team a few months back. But even though I am running, riding, and swimming faster, I still feel SLOW.

I am suffering from Middleman Syndrome.

Middleman Syndrome is when you’re fast enough to win an award or two, leave the beginner workout group, and even hear hey! You’re fast! From time to time – but still too slow to win every race, ride with the “A” group, or impress seasoned athletes.

That’s where I am.

That 59-mile ride Sunday opened lots more questions about nutrition that I am trying to resolve. I’ve never done training for events this long (except the marathon), so my caloric needs and intake as well as my training are totally different than what I’ve experienced before. I tried Hammer Perpetuem today and LOVED the CafĂ© Latte flavor as well as the non-bloated boost it gave me. I’ll be experimenting with CarboPro as well.

The other subject is my run. My workouts have been very light on the running since the marathon isn’t until November, and my long run’s about 5 miles. I need to bump that up a bit.

Man, I wish I could afford to have coaches again.

This week, however, is not the time to try anything new. On Saturday, I’ll be doing the Hammerhead Ocean Marathon, my first openwater swim ONLY race. I’m signed up for the 2.5, but if I’m too intimidated by the current, I’ll switch to the 1.25 the day of the race.

My nosebleed from the Thyrogen is clearing up, which is good, because not being able to breathe is unpleasant. The better news is, I reached a weight that I haven’t seen in 2 years. Either way, I decided to move out of Athena. Since I have placed in the top 3 in at least 1 sport of my last 3 or 4 triathlons, I have decided that I will take the weight loss as an added incentive to accept the challenge to become stronger as an Age Grouper before I’m forced out of Athena by weight.

Stay tuned for the Hammerhead Ocean Marathon Report.

1 tidbits of wizdom:

Karen said...

Middleman Syndrome is the perfect description of it! A little too fast to get much benefit from the training in the beginner group (or if you do stick with them, you become their superstar!), and a little too slow to keep up with the fast people (and not willing to kill yourself trying). A tough spot to be in... If you figure it out, let me know!