Now, before anything. The tired athlete is an actual thing but it is something that most athletes (amateur and professional), coaches (any level) and most people don’t know about.
And sadly, it is a common mistake amongst many that they only begin to learn what it is when the athlete has hit it.
So what exactly is “The Tired Athlete?”
“Many successful endurance athletes are type-A personalities. They are driven to succeed. While this is necessary to some extent, too much drive and motivation can lead to disastrous training and poor performance. This is evident in the following question that I recently received. The athlete, a cyclist, understands a lot about the intricacies of training. His question uses several terms common to power-savvy cyclists and triathletes who use power meters (or GPS devices for runners). Here’s a quick reference so you can understand what he is asking in case you don’t train with power (or a GPS for running):
Chronic Training Load (CTL): A rolling, daily average of how much training stress an athlete is managing. The more stress he/she can handle the greater their fitness. So CTL is a good proxy for “fitness.” If CTL is increasing then fitness is generally increasing also.
Functional Threshold Power or “Pace” in running (FTP): This is how much power (pace) a rider (or runner) can maintain for an hour. It’s similar to lactate or anaerobic threshold power (pace). Increases in FTP indicate an improvement in aerobic fitness.
1 minute max: The highest max power (or pace) one can maintain for a minute. This is another indicator of fitness.”
Nobody can go straight with training, no matter how invincible they think they are. Everyone needs a break. If not it will just crash the body down.
This season on the ice I took it upon myself to test out the theory of the tired athlete. And for the longest time I was going strong. Not getting tired and still pushing myself (a lot more than I should have).
It started in August with 2×2 skating tests to try and complete my senior bronze level… Which I did.
Then I headed on a much needed 7 day vacation (to Las Vegas —> so you can imagine how relaxed I actually was over there).
When I came back the intensity started with just over a month until I had my first competition.
That competition went somewhat well with a second place in freestyle (however a withdraw in interpretation do to several hospitalizations close before).
About 2.5 weeks later I competed again. This time was 2 disciplines. And again there were several complications including a hospitalization 2 days before the competition and another the day after the competition due to asthma that was a sudden onset as I never had symptoms before.
(Both disciplines were first place).
The week after was competition number 3 of the season.
Again was both choreographies (however with a music switch up in both I had to interpret my freestyle with interpretation music and vice versa). I ended with a 7th place in interpretation and a 2nd in freestyle.
Finally the week after was the last torturous one I had with competitions until after Christmas.
I had 2 different competitions in the same season. Both in Freestyle. One was saturday night and the next was on sunday morning. Both were almost an hour away.
The one on saturday night I was exhausted from the longest day ever. So when I got there I did not even care. I ended up 4th place (out of 5).
The next morning after the terrible competition, I had to wake up early and get ready to head to almost an hour away for the next competition. Same discipline in a different location. This one went slightly better and I ended up in second place (out of four skaters).
…And that was it for the first half of my season.
From there I focused on a ‘fun’ test I decided to do…but with all the competitions we only had about a week of preparation. The test was decent but it ended up failing due to having higher elements then required.
Right before Christmas (like a week before?), to reduce the pain I underwent a Spinal Procedure. One that a lot of people choose to be sedated through, I chose to be awake for a faster recovery. They froze my spine, but me under x-ray machines and inserted the needles and the meds. It hurt but I knew almost automatically it did not work when a couple of days later I was in worse pain than I should have been.
Christmas came and went…and before I knew it I had to be ready for the next competition that was right after New Years. Again, I went through the challenge of undergoing another spine procedure right around the competition (this one on my sacroiliac joint).
Right away, the pain was more intense but it feels like it actually hit the spot. It worked but was hell to continue skating with.
Soon after I had regionals. To be honest this competition was the best competition of the season (pain wise). It was the first competition I did with no pain and it showed in my results with a season best of 15+ points (in second place).
After that was a final conversation before a few days off. I did Lachute which my body was completely cramped up and I was having trouble standing the day of the competition so there was no wondering why the performance was that bad.
The day after I hung up my skates and took off to Florida. I was there for 9 days. When I came back the start was shaky but I competed 3 days later and had another really good skate (despite one missed element at the end).
This was all the practice I had. No it was time for the big competitions.
Provincials. I went in with a healthy mind. An unhealthy body but it was now or never. And in Dance I was alone, but in my first competition in dance results were okay. I got 1st place. In freestyle we were maybe…6? and I came second overall, not my best score but on technical it was higher than usual.
So now that the season is over, I have already jumped into training for the next season.
However, I have not fully recovered from the previous season. I am currently skating with a labral hip sprain (level 2). I am not allowed to jump for 5 weeks and even then I have to go back and find out before resuming my original stroking.
Ankylosing Spondylitis has officially been diagnosed as well so that will cause issues in my future but hopefully I will be able to over come it.
As well, I am in rehab for binge eating disorder.
I am also currently waiting on a 3rd spinal procedure that will happen in May.
And I am currently waiting for a surgery for Endometriosis.
So next season is already a wait and see.