Deck the halls and fill your cup up

This photo showed up in my Facebook feed this morning and it has been taunting my subconscious all day.  Given the time of the year, I think it is appropriate to address the importance of taking time for yourself.

12003971_1103586759676051_5886241666270831913_nSo often we get lost in the hustle and bustle of life and combined with the stress of wanting or needing to get training sessions in can cause the same signs of over training.  We may lose sleep (even though we are exhausted), elevated or suppressed morning HR, longer HR recovery periods, persistent illness or injury, and/or lack of confidence and overall lack of quantitative progress.  Basically we turn into a burning ball of fury that is ready to explode on our loved ones or coworkers.

Although many of us see the off season as a chance to work on our weaknesses, build strength or speed, or simply reassess our goals, I can’t stress the importance of taking time for yourself – outside of training. Don’t be afraid to take more active recovery days, restructure your microcycle, grab an extra massage, or simply go for a walk.

Personally, I have a workaholic, obsessive personality and it is very hard for me to break away from my routine.  I remember going through a particularly challenging time in my life a few years ago when a friend said, “just come over and relax”.  My immediate answer was, “and do what?”.  Wave the red flag.  Just like you, I’m a work in progress.  I’m becoming better at taking ‘me-time’, whether that is a walk with the dog in the dark, a coffee in the corner of coffee shop (please do still come and say hi if you see me hunkered down.  I would love to chat.), or taking part in the latest coloring craze.

So when you find yourself overwhelmed with the holiday cluster, Christmas Eve shopping, in-laws, and cramming training sessions in, take a step back.  Take care of #1 and the rest will fall into place.

Happy holidays!

 

Reflections

Each fall and winter we sit at our computers scouring race reports, triathlon website, chatting on Facebook, trying to figure out who is doing what and how to stay in budget.  By January we are raring to go with so much energy and finesse to start the season.  August training mirrors the dog days of the South…muggy and a fight for motivation.  But in the end, it’s all worth it to cross that year end finish line.

The end of my season has finally arrived and not a moment too soon.  This one was a tough one for me both mentally and physically.  But in reflection, I am so much stronger for it.  I struggled with the results that I was getting for the amount of time that I was putting in.  I’ve always been able to skate by on guts alone.  The term “gut it out” was my motto.  I started training a little more seriously last season and it yielded very positive results and a PR and podium with almost every race I entered.  This year was a little different though.  I plateaued. I put in a much bigger effort than ever before, but seemed to still seemed to have the same output.  I’ve been afraid to take it out of first gear, afraid of what might happen, afraid of being uncomfortably uncomfortable.  This is a mental block that I know a lot of people, including a number of my own athletes, struggle with. Pushing past the unknown is scary, but it’s the only way you’ll succeed.

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So you want to be a triathlete

This title makes me chuckle a little bit.  This was the title of the first ‘clinic’ I participated in with the Columbus Road Runners. I’ll remember that day for the rest of my life.  I met some lifelong friends and it was the beginning of planting the triathlon seed in Columbus, GA.  Fast forward some 5 or 6 years and we have Columbus, GA home to 3 triathlons, countless 5k/10ks, several well known half marathons and Soldiers Marathon.  We now have a booming athletic community with people crossing over from sport to sport.  What a spectacular community Columbus has become!

Often the sport of Triathlon is the last to be joined. We collect swimmers who have become waterlogged, runners who have pounded too much pavement, and cyclists who want to try something new.  Triathlon is looked upon sometimes as ‘higher level’ sport or for ‘fit people’.  Well I have good news for you.  Anyone can be a triathlete.  You don’t need to cross over from one sport into multisport.  I hazard to guess that most of us swam as kids, learned to ride a bike (mine was a blue banana seat ride with ape-hanger bars…it was awesome), and can put one foot in front of the other.

I’m serious when I say this: anyone can be a triathlete.

We are lucky in Columbus to have races that are geared towards both the advanced, seasoned athlete and to the first timer (complete with float divisions and water slides).  We have a very successful Couch-2-Tri program (starting each June to the Chattahoochee Challenge Sprint Triathlon) run by our local Chattahoochee Triathlon Club which provides an encouraging group training environment.  Most of these participants find themselves with new friends, habits, and finisher medals on their necks.

I challenge you to try something new and jump in with two feet.  This is a life long sport that will create life long friendships, priceless moments of laughter, and a brand new outlook.  You’ll be just fine.  Promise.

 

The season is almost over: Now what?

It’s now August and the triathlon season is coming to an end. Whether you are new to the sport or a seasoned athlete you have probably spent countless hours training this year. Unless you are planning on participating in the Na Wahine or lucky enough to have qualified for Kona you are probably wondering what you will do with all your free time.

The off season is a great time to refocus your training and work on the discipline that is your weakest. For most people this means the swim and strength training. There are numerous master clubs and swim clinics to attend or if you think you might require specific attention seek the advice of a coach through private sessions.

If you are confident in the water focus on maintaining the best possible technique during all phases of your workout, whether that be through speed or long swims. In addition to swimming it is important to take the off season to build your strength and endurance from a muscular stand point.

Developing muscular strength will help reduce the chances of injury as well as give you some variety from simply swimming, cycling, and running. Reserve some time to visit your local gym or park to focus on lower body strength through squats, lunges, calf raises and on upper body strength through push ups, pull ups, sit ups etc. If the gym is not for you find a local yoga studio and focus on strength and flexibility.

The off season is a time for you to enjoy yourself. Take the time to try something new. Visit the gym, surf, practice yoga, or focus on your weak point but regardless have FUN!

Look up. Look waaay up

2012-week-four-quoteIron sharpens iron.  In order to succeed in our lives, whether it be in work or in play, the importance of having a mentor(s) or a person who we look up to, can’t be stressed enough. For the most part I like to think that it is human nature to strive to be better and athletic ventures are no different.  There are a few exceptions to every rule out there, but most of the crowds that I dabble in set goals for themselves, whether it be in their jobs or in play, and strive for growth.

I have plenty of mentors for different aspects in my life and I have found myself reflecting on their importance more often lately.  Some know that I view them as a mentor, some do not.  Regardless, I reach out to them when I need advice, want to bounce ideas around, need a fist bump (or sometimes a hug, shocking I know), or simply need to be inspired.  Some, I follow on social media, some in type and text, some in social circles, and some in their careers, but I assure you they all serve a purpose.  I should be clear, these are not people I’m jealous of or covet, rather they are people who I admire and know I can learn from.

I challenge you to find a person(s) who can push you outside of your box to be a better person or athlete.  Find one for all aspects of your life.  Write their names down and visit the list often.  I promise you won’t regret it.