So for all you guys who read this and have seen my facebook posts here is my analysis of what I believe I am going through at the moment.
This isn’t easy for me to write about and even harder to explain but I will give it my best shot.
I’m certainly no authority on the subject and those of you who know me well will testify I am certainly no professor, I’m not an expert in psychological issues or stress, but I feel I may have been a victim of it in the last few months.
Training peaks and other such platforms give you all sorts of wonderful information about your training and fitness. Training stress scores, variable index, intensity factors and so on. The one thing they don’t cover is life stress or emotional stress.
Up to February everything was going great in the Duckworth household family were happy, work was good, training was going well and the Limitless project was doing great. Then our family were given the worst news imaginable. Johanna’s mum, a wonderful lady I’ve had the privilege of calling mum for the last 25 years was diagnosed with a very rare aggressive degenerative brain condition and given only a couple of months to live. The disease only affects 60 people in this country a year making it a 1,000,000 to 1 chance of contracting it, and there is no cure.
From that point on our day to day efforts revolved around getting the best care for Marion, keeping her at home for as long as we could manage and doing the best we could for each other and the kids. We managed this for about 5 weeks until Marion went into St Catherine’s Hospice where she passed away.
After the funeral I thought I would be straight back to normal, the kids went to school, Joey went back to work and I immersed myself back into my work and training regime. All seemed to be going well but we were and still are very sad and shocked at what we witnessed from February. Our lives are certainly different now.
The simple fact is that I thought I was doing OK. I had done all the right things during Marion’s Illness, I looked after my family as well as I know how, I was basically in work mode being there as much as possible when not at work to do whatever it took along with Joey and the kids. In my eyes there is nothing to extraordinary there, it’s what you do for your family.
I have only now realised that this effort has left me completely battered emotionally and to some extent physically. My good Friend and partner at Limitless Ian Roberts has a great way of describing this. He says we are like sponges, and as such we can absorb a lot, be it training, work family and life in general. But like all sponges when we start to get full we start to seep. That’s where I’m at. The way it seems to be manifesting itself in me is through my training and racing. I feel this is simply because it is the least important thing in my life at the moment. All of my efforts are still revolving around looking after the girls especially Joey who has been through the most brutal experience imaginable and something I truly hope never happens to any of you. I still need to put lots of effort into my job, as we all do and the Limitless guys have stuck with me and supported me all the way through this, so they have me backing more than ever as a coach and friend
So what has brought me to this conclusion? Well there have been a few warning signs. In training I have good and bad days like anyone, but since the funeral there has been a big gulf in these, I am so up and down it’s mad. When I’m on it, I‘m really good, probably better than ever, and those lovely training peaks files back this up 100%. However when I’m bad I’m god awful or I can’t even be bothered. My races so far prove this with 3 terrible performances and one bolt of lightning that even I don’t understand.
I seem to have lost the one thing that I am probably best known for, my determination. Let me explain. Howrich was poor because of one reason, me. Yes I got in the water a little late but that was rectified later, yes I got some bad luck on the bike and got stuck in a ton of traffic. But for me to contemplate not doing the run when I’m physically fit, then do the run half-cocked says a lot about my mental state on the day. Normally it’s a sufferfest to make up any lost time.
This brings us to The Monster Mojo 70.3. The night before, I had a great time with my pal Andy Orton. But once I came to go to sleep all I could think was I shouldn’t be in Peterborough. I should be at home with the girls. Now Andy said I didn’t seem to be myself on the morning of the race, but to be honest I felt fine the water was pleasantly warm, it was a small field so plenty of room. At the start everything just felt wrong, aches everywhere and as I said previously a really tight chest. I have no idea if it was a panic attack or what, simply because I have never had one before. I tried to shake it off but couldn’t. Where has that determination gone again?
There you have it. If the brain isn’t working correctly the body doesn’t perform to its full potential. Thing is, I have no idea what to expect from this point on. As I sit here writing this I’ve done 3 brilliant sessions today feeling like the Joe from last season. But I know that could all change tomorrow. Talking to Ian (the oracle) Roberts, we have decided not to have too much structured training for the next few weeks, we are simply going to try and enjoy triathlon training again. Where will it take us? Who knows.
I’m sorry if this seems like a bit of a moan and it’s not the usual blog about training, racing and funny occurrences, but there hasn’t been much to smile about in recent months. Part of the reason for writing this is to hopefully get it off my chest and help me to move on. I have an amazing family who have been incredibly strong this year. I have friends who are second to none who have been there for me and my family right from February. The Limitless lads have been giving it everything both in training and in racing and to be honest are the one great thing about the season so far for me. Then there is the triathlon community, the greatest sporting community in the world of sport in my humble opinion. With all these people supporting each other surely good things will start to happen again, I just need to give it time and let nature take its course.
Take it easy