• Rachel Rutherford

Overtraining, Comparison & Looking After the Body


This morning I put my first running race activity on Strava since 2019. It was a very muddy trail run that I ran super easy and really enjoyed. I spent a while thinking about what the caption should read as imagine if people looked at it and thought 'wow she’s slow'. But then I laughed and just named it Tatton YOMP. As after all that’s what it was called.. and who cares what others think.


I stopped putting my activities on Strava while I was training for Lanzarote. At that time it was so others couldn’t see my training for the event as I was trying to qualify for Kona! I then just never turned it back to public and these days rarely go on it. It’s actually very freeing. It makes me laugh but in a sad way when I see people post:


Easy run, could have been quicker but I overslept, did a 10 mile threshold session yesterday, didn’t have breakfast and saw a flying pig.


Like they have to justify something that we all supposedly do for fun!


How it Began:

I used to absolutely love Strava. When I first got into cycling and was riding an insane amount it was so good for finding routes, checking out what everyone else was doing and I won’t lie the Kudos was great. But it became very addictive very quickly for me.


If a session was really short or slow I would worry what others thought. Likewise if I had a rest day the absence of the black dot showing on an activity would be so triggering. I can only speak for myself, but I as a triathlete 100% always think more is more. In fact when I started working with my first coach he had to properly hold me back from doing too much as it was all I knew.


I see it across the board in triathletes and runners I follow on Instagram. Captions such as:

  • Dead on my feet but got that 3k swim done.

  • Ankle really hurts but managed to get that 10 mile run in.

Like should we really be proud and bragging about that. Doesn’t really send the best message does it?


In a world where we are scared to miss one session because coaches think it’s ok to share statements like:

  • Don't stop until you are proud

  • Success is what comes after your stop making excuses

  • Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

  • The only workout you regret is the one you didn't do

  • No energy, tired AF, still going for a run


For the driven minded among us we feel like there is no option. Suddenly you find yourself completely consumed by exercise and it’s literally all you do. Wake up, train, work, train, bed and back to it the next day. Social relationships dwindle, nights out fade to grey and for some of us we become obsessed with what we are putting in our bodies, a lot of the time in complete detriment to our Heath.


Does a red mark on training peaks really matter? Do you really need to make up a missed session. Honest answer is no. In fact I'm pretty sure even the science agrees..


Burnout:

This so easily leads to burnout but many of us just push through. After all this is what it’s all about right. Ironman is hard, marathons are hard it’s all meant to be a challenge. Feeling tired all the time ISN'T normal and sacrificing your sleep every single night for training has actually been proven to have detrimental health effects Long term.

Underfuelling

Since starting my weight gain journey it’s scary the number of girls that have admitted to losing their periods, like we accept that as something that’s completely ok and normal. Well let me tell you something it’s really not. You might be ‘functioning’ but if you are overtraining and/ or underfuelling you are damaging your body longer term. If you want to be active into your older years you really should confront this. For obvious reasons it’s harder to spot in blokes but that desire to be as lean as possible to get the best result possible, I see how it destroys and it’s not worth it.


As amateur athletes what do we stand to gain? It’s not until you step outside the bubble you realise how destroying it can be and for me, since Kona a sport I once loved lost all joy. In 2021 it became my coping mechanism. I bullied myself because I didn’t want to train anymore. I didn’t want to race, I needed some time off, but I felt like I couldn’t have it, like I was failing if I did. I would constantly be asked how my training was going and it would make me irrationally angry. Could they not see it wasn’t going well, could they not just leave me alone?

Rest Week? What's that?

I had my first full rest week since probably 2016 in November this year. This signified the start of my all in food journey where I’m on a mission to:

  • Challenge every single food rule I’ve had since I was 16

  • Gain weight as looks aside, mentally I was burned out, had negative energy, was depressed, shakey, and felt like a shell.

  • Find balance in my sport obsessed life

ME EATING MY SECOND BROWNIE FOR 10 YEARS:


Now rest week probably fills a lot of you guys with dread too. Understandably. But you know what literally nothing changed. I didn’t lose all my fitness (although it did feel like it on the first run back), I had time to do other things and I stopped feeling quite so exhausted. I challenge you to take one yourself. Reckon you could do it?


A 10k Trail Run:

I wrote something in my diary and it honestly scared me a little. So I wanted to share it:


I am going to have to spin these thoughts now. Look at how amazing it is that I can eat so much as to being amazing how much I can do on so little. That’s not really an achievement just more really dangerous. Start looking for the adventure and flavour in going out for dinner rather than the safe foods. From the life I’m gaining by eating so much more!


Since WHEN was it a good thing to push your body to the absolute edge of being ok. After the race we got given a Cadbury’s selection pack. 4 weeks ago I wouldn’t have taken it as there is no way I would have eaten it. Today I took it and will be eating all of them. Because life is too short for constant deprivation. I’m also picking up some brownies later. I again haven’t actively done something like this since the age of 16. How sad is that? All those missed years.




Exercise Addiction:

Along with worrying about eating too much food, I like most others have an exercise addiction. I can always find the motivation and energy to exercise even when I’m my case I evidently didn’t have any more to spare.


I am now starting to find the joy back with my bike and my running, 2 sports that honestly have changed my life. I will be racing next year, but I won’t be chasing the times for now. I will be racing for pure enjoyment, because for me unless I’ve got a smile or grimace on my face I’m doing it all wrong.


Next year I would really like to start doing some triathlon coaching. I feel I honestly have so much to give back to the community and in the new year once I’m back on my feet I plan to start ‘pocket rocket coaching’ or something very similar. I’ve worked with a number of coaches and they’ve all had bits I liked and bits I didn’t after all we are all so different in what we look for. I feel my experience in life and I’ll be able to really help someone on their triathlon journey and if you think you might like to work with me please do reach out.


So you might be wondering how this links back to Strava. Well it doesn’t really but I hope you found it a bit interesting anyway.

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