I'm a "yes" girl, I detest being the dog left on the porch. If there is an adventure, and it's hard core, and I'm invited, I'm going to try to make the answer "yes". I'm sturdy and so I find myself pushing my body hard. When the tempo picks up, I tend to go with it. When the pack starts to shell people off the back, you bet I'm going to be in the mix. When faced with emotional challenges in training, I'm the girl to put on the smirk, or get the twinkle in her eye. I eat that stuff up. That's why at times, I don't see the bucket coming. My emotional fortitude in sport blinds me to the bucket. What bucket? No no, I'm fine, I'm having fun, I'm living life.

I wake up one sunny morning, a day where I should be flying out the door to train, and suddenly there I am looking at the rim of the dirty green bucket (mine is green for some reason). Unfortunately, I'm on the inside looking up and out. I'm tired, and my motivation is gone. While I was busy having fun, I stopped listening to my body, stopped thinking about nutrition, massage, sleep.

PIC and I coined the term "the bucket" in our training last year. Being "in the bucket" is getting to that place in your training where you are tapped, your done, your kaput, you've burrowed yourself into a hole because you push push pushed, until you had no more push left.

But, Sonja, you've always been coached? Aren't training plans written so that when you do them they don't put you in the bucket? Well, as much as this feels like a very sticky subject, the short answer is "no". Intensity can be added, the "yes" girl can appear, communication can falter. Training plans are a guide and really the only way for your coach to keep you out of the bucket (other than giving you easy breezy work all the time that makes you want to kick the bucket...or kick his bucket) is to have super strong lines of communication.

If it is left completely up to me to bring it up to my coach when I "see the bucket" approaching, then we are both screwed. With an athlete like me, a coach must constantly ask, must constantly keep the lines of communication open, because my proclivity is to turn a blind eye to any appearance of the bucket, to keep on keeping on. But, I am honest, and if my coach is asking the right questions and not casting me as a quitter for telling the truth, I will tell the truth, always.

One might think, rubbish. It's the athletes role to come to the coach when they are seeing the bucket, the coach shouldn't have to poke and prod the athlete everyday to make sure there are no "bucket sightings".

I tried that...I ended up in the bucket.

I kid, kinda. However, yes, there is a big role that I must play to keep myself out of the bucket. I must be honest with myself, and separate emotional determination from stupidity. It's not an exact line though, it's kinda grey. Training forces us to push through, to man up, to Cave[wo]man up. There are times when you know you need to strengthen your emotional fortitude and it is for the right reasons. However, we have all been in that place where you know you should stay in bed and you push anyways because your AFRAID that the workout you're about to miss is the one that would have mattered. Being smart is knowing that no one workout matters, they all matter, and they all don't.

I have learned that stress (like the relationship bull shit kind) + training hard will result in a bucket appearing on your front doorstep. You'll be all set to head out, thinking that you are handing "things" okay, that you are going to be able to separate the key ingredients in your life, and boom "bucket on the doorstep".

How does one get out of the bucket? It really depends on the athlete. My bucket recovery rate is about 3-4 days. I sleep. I retreat into my Sonja cave. Nobody hears from me for several days, mostly because I will sleep 13-16 hours a day, completing only the tasks which I am legally required to do. At times Troy has had to take time off work because I can barely parent. During my waking hours I usually read, and take baths. Then I crawl back in my bed. Times spent "in the bucket" tend to be a period of slight depression for me, especially if the bucket was facilitated by relationship stress.

(By the way, in "relationship" I do not mean Troy, he has never brought on a bucket, he's always just there to catch me when I fall, or more likely to slowly pull me out of the deep bucket when I am laying at the bottom. Yes, I am lucky beyond measure)

Three to four days later I emerge, with a smile on my face, a few books completed, and a zest to get back out there swimming, running, and riding hard. the bucket is nowhere to be found, it is distant memory. I'm back to being a "yes" girl and begging to be dragged along.

This year, it is my hope that things are different, both for PIC and I. We have spent unnecessary time in the bucket and I am hopeful that we can help each other, help Chuckie, help us to keep the bucket at bay.