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.

 

Resilence

climate_img_DefiningResilienceWordleSpring/Summer/and into early Fall are big months at the Cogle Compound from a triathlon and event perspective.  There are 7 races that are produced, endless hours of training, races, full time jobs, summer break for school, and inevitably other things. In the military resilience is a buzz word.  As military families and spouses we are resilient.  As military parents and Soldiers we are resilient.  Often we shrug these classes and mandatory trainings off, laughing saying that they don’t apply – what a waste of time.  But if we reflect on the importance of resilience in our lives, regardless of whether you have served or supported, all the same points apply.

The past month or so has test my resilience an athlete, parent, wife, coach, and race director (not necessarily in that order).  Don’t feel too sorry for me since I have an amazing support group and spectacular community which wraps their arms around me in times of need, even if they don’t know it.  This is the life I chose and I’m quite content with it and the course it’s taking.  My husband is in and out inconsistently and often at the spur of a moment (even though he swears he has told me when he’ll be gone) and so I often find myself in a single parent situation with a lot going on.

So how do you juggle work, family, and everything else that life throws at you and still find time to train? If I had the right answer I’d be a genius!  For the most part I have a very relaxed, laid back personality but I assure you sometimes the internal battles and turmoil threaten to boil over.  Very rarely it does and I feel like curling up in a little ball in the corner of a deserted building, in the middle of the forest, on top of a secret mountain.  I don’t want you to invade my secret mountain, so I offer you this advice, take a deep breath.  Then exhale. That’s 80% of the battle. Take a few moments (just a few) to jot down what makes you happy.  No order is required.  Just what makes you happy.  I suspect that training/working out/racing is somewhere on that list.  Being some what of a realist, work, dishes, home renovations, and projects are always going to be there.  Exercise, to any extent, even if it a short walk, will help maintain fitness and life your mood.  Happier people yield better results in work, family, and general life are much easier to deal with…just ask my husband.

So next time you feel overwhelmed that you can’t get it all in, take a deep breath, exhale, and at the very least, go for a short walk.  You’ll bounce back and you’ll be just fine.

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Race Stronger

The race season is underway and there are an endless supply of races and events available to both the competitive and recreational athlete alike. Many of us have spent countless hours preparing for the events of our choice and have found out how crucial strength training is to our training, not only to improve performance but also to prevent injuries. However, you may find as the season progresses that it is hard to find time to ‘hit the gym’ as often as you would like.

I have GOOD NEWS! Why not take your strength training regime with you to the park or the beach where you run, bike, or swim? Your body weight can suffice for countless exercises that will challenge you and leave you feeling stronger. Next time you are at the park with your training partner, kids, or by yourself, try these strength training exercises to challenge your muscles.

One-Leg Balance / Squat / Reach

Stand on one leg and hold it as long as you can. If this is too easy, add a slight squat motion. Still too easy? Place an object on the floor, several feet in front of you (a rock or park bench), and slowly squat down, and reach out with one arm and touch the object and slowly return to an upright position. Stay on one leg at all times. Repeat on the other leg after a minute or so.

Backward Stride Stand with feet together.

Stride backward with one leg, while raising the arms to shoulder level. Lower the arms to your side and repeat with the other leg. Pick up the pace for more cardio.

Push Ups

Begin in pushup position, on knees or toes. Perform 4 pushups, abs contracted and back straight. On the 5th pushup, lower halfway down and hold for 4 counts. Push back up and repeat the series – 4 regular pushups and 1 halfway–5 or more times.

Foam Rolling

You’ve probably seen those strange contraptions at the gym or in your triathlete magazine, cilindrical rolls of compressed foam.  They are designed to be used to provided relief to sore or tight muscles and to help prevent injuries in the form of myofacsial release (a form of massage).  Check out this YouTube video and roll your way to success this season, injury free!