The goal of sports training is to apply stress to the body and elicit supercompensation—a refilling of the well of energy, as it were, but with the well getting fuller than it was before. It’s like pruning a fruit tree so that it grows back more productive. You stress, rest, and become stronger.
Rest is a critical portion of this equation. Consider the automatic ice maker in your freezer. Once you have used all the available ice, it’s simply gone. You’ve got to wait for the machine to make more.
As I wrap up the bulk of my Ironman training, I feel like the ice maker lever’s broken. In our model, there’s a handle that rests on the top of the fresh ice. When it drops below a certain level, the machine begins making more ice. My self-regulating lever is stuck in an “up” position and I’m running low on ice. Happily, my taper begins soon, and my ice tray should be full on June 21.
There’s still a little energy in my well, though. I realized this week that I have energy for my workouts—at least the first one of the day—and my meditation practice (probably because it requires very little physically), but that’s it, no more. No energy to plan a menu beyond cereal or pizza; no energy to really focus on work; certainly no energy for housekeeping. (I’m writing from my couch—no energy to sit at my desk—with boxes of PowerBars towering above me and a growing collection of sweatshirts that haven’t yet made it upstairs working as de facto blankets.)
The energy I have for my workouts feels good. It’s like the cup of coffee you impatiently take while waiting for the full pot to brew: easily accessible, tastes fine, gets the job done. But the energy I bring to the rest of my day is like the remainder of the pot once you’ve stolen that first cup. The hot water has been on the grounds a little too long, and the whole thing feels slurry and slightly bitter.