September Doom and Gloom

This is a special time of year. This is the time of year that we (the Team) have approximately two weeks on our own time to do whatever we like. Following the World Championships, most people find it rewarding to take some time off from training, travel, relax, and visit friends and family. I’ve used my post-Worlds time differently every year…sometimes I get out of New Jersey, sometimes I don’t (this is often defined by financial limitations). Sometimes I have adventures, sometimes I don’t (this is usually unavoidable since I tend to attract calamity even with trips to the grocery store). But what is the same every year is the gloominess that accompanies this time.
After having gone through it several times, I now know what to expect and why. Returning from Worlds is one of the hardest parts of the year for a couple of reasons: first, your body is recovering from the mental and physical stress of competition, including a taper/peak workload.  My body usually does not enjoy this period and I tend to feel a little sluggish, bloated and restless.  Second, Worlds for me are like an enormous two-week social carousel during which time I get to train, compete and exist alongside all of the other top rowers in the world.  There isn’t a second while I’m there that I’m not appreciating how strong and passionate all of the people around me are.  It is a fantastic environment to be in, and I thrive there.  And then to cap it all off, we all get together at the end of the regatta and celebrate together, which never fails to disappoint.  I always leave looking forward to the next time I might get the opportunity to spend time with this community of amazing people who are gorgeous, inspiring, humbling and just fun.

Coming straight back to New Jersey afterwards does not make for an ideal transition.   Even when I keep myself busy with non-rowing activities like spending a lot of time with friends, teammates and family, there is always something a little off when I am not training full time after Worlds.   It manifests itself in different ways.  I find during my time off I am especially prone to inconsistent and unpredictable appetite; dramatic mood swings; and irregular sleep cycles.  There isn’t much I can do about it.  It just is.  And every year that I go through crying for no reason in the middle of the afternoon, or demolishing an entire bag of gummy worms at 10 in the morning, or lying awake at 2 in the morning for the third night in a row I have to remind myself that it’s just part of my “vacation” and once training starts up again, things will be back to normal.
The good news is, that the more times I go through it, the easier it is to get through.  I never relish the emotional tumult of September, but I do know what to expect when I go for more than two days without training, anticipate it, and deal with it when it arrives. My first two years in Princeton were the worst–not only was I depressed about not having made the Team, but I was still unfamiliar with the [much more dramatic] physical ways my body reacted to rest. I felt like I was going crazy.
But with this in mind, I made an effort this year to offset the inevitable hormonal dips with different avenues of discipline and distraction.  At the beginning of my first week back in New Jersey, I decided to do myself a favor and detox from my Slovenian diet of deep-friend-everything and cheese.  I did a three-day juice cleanse which was awesome and left me feeling great for my weekend adventure:  Virginia Beach.  VB is neither glamorous nor exotic, but it did have amazing weather, and the beach was beautiful and not at all crowded.  I admit I got sunburned (and didn’t even put a dent in my uni tan).  I spent some quality time with friends, met some very colorful locals, and had some great food.  I can’t say it was restful, but it was relaxing (different but equally important).  In the next few days I am off to Minnesota to visit my family.  Grandma K. just turned 95 this summer, so we will have to have some belated birthday celebrations!  Even though my parents came to support me in Bled, it will be great to see all of my extended family who weren’t there, and who I only get to see once or twice a year.  September is a wonderful time of year in the Great Lakes region, so it should be a great way to wind up the end of my two weeks.

I hit the erg this morning after a week of no training and was surprisingly comfortable.  I didn’t break any land speed records or anything, but it was good to do some cardio week after laying low for a while.  I will continue to increase my workload and intensity throughout the week so I am sharpened up by the weekend and ready to go with the Team on Monday morning.

I also promise to finalize the List this week… admittedly trying to work on it right after Worlds is a little depressing since I was just walking around with all of these guys just a few days ago, and now it’s going to be another year before I even have the opportunity to see any of them again (and that’s not even certain since I have to earn that privilege through selection).  But for you, devoted blog readers: I promise to work through the pain and get it done.  I am working on something special for this year’s List… I don’t know if the World is ready.

Long Live the Dream,

–MK

 

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