Thing is, true tests can't really be planned for. It's easy to practice mindfulness and rest, when you're in a happy, healthy position to do it. It's much, much harder to practice those things in times when everything else doesn't feel ok. I don't really mean racing in itself; that's a blissful moment in time where there are literally no requirements of you to do anything except slalom. You don't have to interact with anyone in a race run, you don't have to remember or analyse or think, and it's awesome. The harder part is afterwards, if it didn't go how you expected.
My kicking, screaming first reaction is to delegate. It's pretty ugly and I've thankfully developed a mechanism where I can recognise myself going into "bitch mode" and take myself away to burn it out. Delegation is like blame. Your brain is hurting, it's really fucked off, and it wants the problem to be someone, anyone else's fault except yours. It's super unpleasant and a really hard thing to come to terms with; nobody wants to be that person. It so easily wipes out all the good, positive things in your life and leaves a ridiculously dramatic, bitter shadow that nobody likes and is really hard to work with. I guess you could also call it self pity, blah blah...
So it's almost completely impossible for me to have a calm, reasonable discussion with myself at moments like this. It's best to just get back in my boat and paddle as far away from other human beings (for their sake) as possible until it's had time to tire itself out. It's quite embarrassing when you come to your senses. Here I am, in the middle of one of the most beautiful (Sava) rivers in the world. I've just competed for Great Britain and had an opportunity to do my best on a world stage, and I'm sitting throwing shit at anything that will stick in my own brain. It's ridiculous and embarrassing.
Luckily, at this stage I've had chance to cool down and resolve a few things. I decided at the bottom of Tacen that I need to stop making excuses for myself. That doesn't mean training harder or "never missing a session". It means that when I'm analysing my performance and condition, that I do it objectively, with the tools I have access to, without subjective input. My position isn't relative to anyone else; it's just mine.
I'm the kind of person who suffers a failure (to clarify, in my mind, this 'failure' is not qualifying for semifinals at either of the first two world cups) by throwing myself into hard training. Because when you're exhausted it's much harder to think, and it sort of relaxes me. Although from years of experience and a tough injury it would be apparent that this method does more harm than good.
So even though all I really wanted to do was hurt, when I got home to Scotland the first thing I did was take a week off. It's horrible to sit with your own brain sometimes, but this is probably the first time I've actually forced myself to do that, and it wasn't as awful as I thought. I had some time to think about what I really expect from myself, and how realistic that is. To design a training programme that is sympathetic to my needs - physically and mentally. It was pretty awesome just to recover and be lazy for a few days. It was a hard thing to decide, and if you were to summarise this blog into bullet points it would look ridiculous:
- trained too hard
- had a big tantrum after racing
- decided to take week off
- feels healthy again
But I hope it helps someone to realise that no matter how they think they look on the outside, you still have to make decisions based on your own perspective. How you are doesn't need to change or be the best all the time. You just need to recognise it, and be able to do the healthiest thing even if you'd rather ignore it all.