A Stronger Tomorrow

The sun is shining, it’s 77 degrees Fahrenheit outside, I have the whole day off and my bike is ready. Here we go! Or maybe not. My hip is sore and I have an appointment with the doctor. He examines me thoroughly, does his movement tests and immediately sends me to the MRI. The same afternoon he calls me and announces that my sacral joint (my ass) is suffering from a stress fracture AGAIN. As if that wasn’t enough, he expresses concerns that something more than just overloading could be the cause. I am sent to take a blood sample and get an appointment with the rheumatologist …

As the German saying goes: The hardest agony is showing you what you can’t have. In a way, this blog is a second part of the “The Struggle in Me” post. I want to show you why I look positively into the future and how I came to this point of view.

We all go through ups and downs. You only really become aware of this when you see that the whole world is going through a low or a hard time, like this year. Whether you get destroyed through such a time or come out stronger is up to you. I’ve always been fascinated by how hard fates make certain people stronger. But that doesn’t happen automatically. It is easy to say “hey, you will come back stronger!” But how is that supposed to work? And what does that “stronger” mean, anyway?

How we react to bad news is very individual and depends on many factors. Regardless of the starting position you are in (optimist, pessimist etc.) you can work on your point of view. My home was shaped by both perspectives. Often a lot of things were just shit and there was a lot of talk about tomorrow will be better. But none of that prepared me for life. We learn most when we experience things ourselves. Now I could leave it that way and say, “go out there, make mistakes and get better”. But we often experience things that don’t have a positive ending. How am I supposed to get better from this?

Feel the difference – negativity won’t get you anywhere!

I had my hip pain for the first time when I was 18. Nobody knew what I had and everyone just sent me on. “It’ll be fine, here are some painkillers.” But it didn’t get better. Training was canceled and I let my head down. I fell into a negative spiral and started using various coping mechanisms to distract myself. Did that move me forward in that moment? No, but it distracted me and I was able to suppress things. The basic tenor was still negative.

A few years later I was back in training and pain free. I had read some books by now and heard more stories from other people. The pain started again. The first thought went to the coping mechanisms. The first steps into the negative spiral have been taken. This time, however, I remembered the words of my ma: “Kick until it becomes butter”. That means it’s tough, but if we don’t give up it gets better. Okay pain I’ll look you in the eye! Unimpressed, he continued to make my life a living hell. So I went to the doctor and got a couple of injections. It got better and I could breathe a sigh of relief for a couple of years and move on to qualify for Kona. The difference? I had learned that self-pity and negativity would do NOTHING for me. On the contrary, it only make things worse. That flipped the switch for me and changed everything.

I’ve started to question my views and my approach to life. That sounds more complex than it is. But I think the following question is fundamental to dealing with bad events, negativity, and failures. How do i want to live my life? Do I want to be trapped or do I want to live independently? Surrendering to negativity and coping mechanisms is like relinquishing control of your life. All hopes, dreams and wishes are put on hold. Who would want that? I’m not saying we should all be pink unicorns who dance all day. But I know with a positive attitude we create new worlds and move forward. And that’s the MOST IMPORTANT thing at the end of the day! We have to keep moving because that’s the only way we can overcome things. Stopping on a mountain or rolling down again. That doesn’t help us. We never get over the top and into the next village like that.

With this attitude I managed to get rid of my recurring pain and problems quite successfully. Well sometimes successful, sometimes less successful. As described in the last blog, I haven’t been spared from bouts of depression, but I’m still positive about the future. Everyone has a bad day, month, year or a life event that throws you off track. It is crucial that we understand that it depends on how we react and what power that has over the future.

I’ve been injured so often in the past 3 years that I can hardly count it anymore. Piriformis left, piriformis right, 2x sacral joints broken. Absolutely strange to see that I am going into my 4th year as a professional and have only finished 4 races. At least these were podium finishes, but none of this is fun. Am I Too Prone To Injury To Be Pro? What’s happening? I train less than before I got pro and still it hits again and again. The latest stress fracture occurred in the pre phase with relatively low training volume. Something is not right. My doctor sent me to see a rheumatologist for a reason. The suspicion is based on some autoimmune disease affecting my hipbone. We’ll see if that’s true. I could sit in the corner crying and say crap. 6 weeks break and possibly an awful illness. But no, I’m sitting here full of hope. I’ll finally find out what’s going on and why I’ve been dealing with it again and again for the last 12 years. I look forward to it all and have several plans in my pocket, if I have to change the course.

That doesn’t mean that I never have negative thoughts, but I realize that the less time I waste on negative stuff, the more quality of life I have. So the attitude towards problems is what makes the difference. Think more positively and your life will become more positive. I could now hang out drunk in the bar in Frankfurt / Oder, but no, I live in America, have a great wife, my own successful coaching business and we move to Hawaii. I am happy and love my life. Life is what you make of it. Think positively and learn from difficult situations. I hope that we can all apply this to this time and come out more positively together. You have it in your hands!

Flo

Offseason

2020 sucks a lot of energy! Some have had a few races or have a few more races and some have preferred not to start. What we all have in common is struggling with this year’s uncertainty. Usually Kona is seen as the end of the LD triathlon season, and around this time many people take their season break and switch off. At least those who have already made the mistake of shooting through and not taking a break.

What does offseason mean?

Ignore all training plans, social media posts from other athletes or training tips for at least 2-3 weeks and take some distance from sport. Especially this year is mentally very stressful and it doesn’t matter whether you pulled it off really hard or took everything a little easier. The offseason serves as a reset button for your athletic existence. Don’t force yourself to sit hard on the sofa all the time. It’s about bringing body and mind back into balance and recharging your batteries for the new season. Go out and hike a bit or read a book, go to the spa, ride a little mountain bike. No matter what you do, do it without compulsion and let your body decide what it wants. Use the time to give something back to yourself. With all the training in addition to the stress of everyday life, you demand a lot from yourself.

Why? I’m just losing my whole shape!

As I said, you shouldn’t just lie on the sofa. Move as you like. A classic among the training studies (Effects of detraining Coyle: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3944049/) describes very nicely the biggest problem of “training off” in relation to the cardiovascular system: The loss of performance occurs because of the Decrease in total blood volume. That means after 2 weeks of inactivity the blood volume decreased and thus the performance decreased. One saw a low Vo2 and a higher heart rate with the same load in the cf. before the 2-week inactivity. This is also often what you perceive as a loss of form: “Phew at the same speed I suddenly have to work a lot more.” With less blood volume, the heart has to work harder to distribute the blood. So if you move a little in your offseason, you don’t lose quite as much blood volume. And your joints and tendons won’t rust. And don’t worry, you will regain your level in a few weeks after starting your training.

So why should you do an offseason?

The alpha animal endurance athlete often only knows how to flee forwards. That’s good, but stress doesn’t make you grow. The train of thought for many is: the greater the stimulus, the better the adaptation. YES NO. We only adapt when we can process the stimulus. So it’s about finding the optimal point at which we develop enough stress for an adaptation and can also process the stress. This is where the point comes into play that many ignore or at least underestimate: Our everyday life also causes stress and not too little! So always consider training + life = total stress. This applies on a small scale per day, per week and also on a large scale per year, per season etc. See the offseason as a growth potential. The season was tough, even if it was probably. not physically like others with a lot of races, but she was 100% mentally tough. Corona has put us all in a stressful situation. We deserve to switch off and grow!

Be good to yourself and treat yourself to the offseason. In the end, you’ll end up stronger than if you just pull through!

Stress + recovery = growth

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me: info@konaendurance.com

Flo