Perspective…valuable thoughts from a client

I actually had a different blog ready for this morning when I came across this one from one of my clients and I couldn’t resist sharing.

I met Heidi before she did Augusta 70.3 last year, and a few months later she asked me to coach her for not only her return to Augusta, but also for Raleigh 70.3. As is the norm the road to these races is often paved with unexpected aches and pains, injuries and illnesses that we contract, kids contract and give back to us, work travels, family events, in other words LIFE!

While I , of course, think triathlon and running and any activity that makes you happy should be part of your lifestyle, it should not become your life. It needs to be woven seamlessly into the fabric of your days, weeks, years, otherwise it becomes a burden, an obligation, a job that no longer holds any joy and thus really the best benefits from such a lifestyle are then lost!

Here is Heidi’s blog from today about just that, keeping it all in perspective…and thanks for letting me share!

Perspective

Photo Mar 23, 11 34 22 AMYesterday I was scrolling through Training Peaks, the app my coach uses to schedule my workouts, and I saw that next to the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile race for next Sunday was a note that Ironman 70.3 Raleigh was eight weeks away. And my coach, who already knows me so well, also left a comment that the note was intended to excite me and not freak me out.

My impulse was to freak out, and though I almost choked on my coffee, I wasn’t settling in that that anxious place. I’ve been anxious plenty of times about Raleigh. I’ve questioned whether it was a race I wanted to train for or if I really wanted to race it at all. I’ve allowed insecurities to creep in and mangle my confidence to shreds leaving me to gather up the pieces and, with the support of friends, move forward.

But suddenly, I’m realizing it doesn’t feel quite so huge and looming as training for Augusta did last year, and a friend reminded me that my mental space was occupied for that September race in January of last year. For nine months nothing else mattered but September 29, 2013. My world, my thoughts, my time revolved around that ultimate goal and all of the hours and days required to get there.

And maybe that’s what you need to do to get through something so colossal the first time, but looking back, I’m still not sure all of what I was trying to prove (or to whom). It almost felt like a race getting to the race, and I know I was trying to prove to myself that I had it in me to do something big. I know that confidence (or lack of it) was the driving force. And I don’t regret that part. I don’t regret the changes it brought, and the sense of accomplishment I have.

Photo Mar 26, 2 22 05 PMThis spring is about balance, and with it half ironman training is finally falling into a proportional place. It is no longer a defining label I cling to; it is now simply something I love to do. It is part of the whole of me instead of the only thing I held onto in an attempt to find a deeper understanding of myself and my perspective of the world. Because when we cling to one hyper-focused thing, we eliminate so many other factors. We eliminate friends and family; we eliminate other activities we love. I built a wall around myself using the race and training as an excuse, which allowed me to sink back into old protective habits and thought processes. I might have made great strides physically, but in many other ways, life was not about growth last year. It was stunted, and looking back, I wonder if I even felt alive. Did I ever exhale or did I live holding my breath simply hoping I’d find the end of that 70.3 mile course and cross the finish line? Sometimes I’m afraid to look for the answer to that question, but I’d imagine a glance at my Instagram feed from last year would clear it up.

That tension is in stark contrast to this year that has felt alive and pulses with a beating heart and deep, cleansing breaths. It has been organically filled with friends and date nights and girl nights and family time. What felt taxing or too involved or too scary last year has naturally fallen into place. My friend Kristy is focusing on finding breathing room this year, and that is the best way to describe what is happening. There is breathing room and it is not just seeping in around the edges of training and thinking about a race. It cushions me and generates a kinetic energy that flows and connects.

This breathing room gives me the space to add ironman training in to my life as part of the whole. Instead of being the sole thread that bound the days and weeks of last year, the most important keystone that anchored me to myself, it is now something less and more. It is one of the many variegated parts that are coming together to create the brilliant mosaic that is this life. It enhances who I am and provides me with a place to test myself and grow in many ways, but it it is not the only litmus test for growth.

Instead the litmus test for growth is the happy moments that exist alongside and in front of the hard training. It culminates in the date nights and girl nights, the social trail runs and chatty family bike rides. It is noticing that race day is about nine weeks away, choking a little on my coffee, and then smiling and moving on with my day.

 

The Answer is REST!

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The question is get out there and train…or not?

It’s that time of year where even the healthiest of us are not immune to some coughing and sniffles. And every year when that cold strikes, the question becomes do you suck it up, get out there and train or wimp out and opt for rest?

Sometimes the answer is obvious. If you can’t escape the bathroom for more than 15 minutes at a time, if you have a fever, chills, aches…rest is ALWAYS the right choice. Give yourself the time to recover and then bear in mind that recovery most certainly will require a couple of days of easy or moderate training sessions before returning to high intensity or volume. Those type of illnesses, even if short in duration, rank high on the energy and fuel stores depleation scale.
More often the answer is less black and white. Those sniffles, sinus pressure, throat tickle, cough.

A quick Google search will give dozens of articles offering variations of all the advice you have already heard…go if the symptoms are above the neck, don’t if they aren’t or wait, is it the reverse?

So my non-medical-degree-but-years-of-personal-experience-backed advice? Listen to your body…and then take a day off anyway!

Our bodies are truly amazing and they almost always let us know what they need, but we rarely listen. So if your body says it wants to rest, let it!!! I can almost promise you that pushing through instead of taking just one day off will at the very least lengthen the duration of the cold and potentially make you worse, or more susceptible to additional symptoms.

Now that I’ve preached that you need to do what your body tells you, I’m going to go against that and say even if you think you can push through – and that is most likely your brain talking and not your body – don’t do it. Take one day off, rest and hydrate well. See above for my reasoning!

Now I’m going to finish my bowl of steel cut oats with blueberries and almonds, grab my box of tissues and settle in for a day watching the Olympics…feel better everyone!

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Happy Snow Day!

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I know many of you are grumbling about this fresh blanket of the white stuff!

Don’t grumble, get out there and have some fun with it!

The gyms are closed, so the treadmill is out, but before you decide to skip your run, think again. Use this as an opportunity to run for fun, no Garmin, no pacing, no targeted speed work, just some fun, fresh air and a workout that you’ll be glad you did!

Of my entire apartment complex, mine – and the beagles – were the first steps out this morning, and when I left for my run an hour later, no new imprints had been made. I was surprised given the number of kids in the neighborhood. When I was kid and still living in Virginia and we had a snow day, I was up at first light and outside and on my second change of clothes by 9 AM from playing and getting so wet. It was probably the only time I was so willing to get up in the morning, as my mother will certainly attest to!

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But this morning I was the lone runner, lots of other folks with dogs out playing. All in pairs, a pair of Springer Spaniels all toasty with booties and coats walking their people, a pair of yellow labs helping shovel a driveway and a pair of chocolate labs ready to join me for the end of my run. And, of course, my beagle boys, who were initially excited, but when the snow is up to your shoulders, it can be a bit challenging to take care of business.

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OK, Mom, let's go back in!

OK, Mom, let’s go back in!

The first hours and day of the snowfall is typically the best in Virginia, as it has not had a chance to turn to ice and slush and then refreeze yet. The first concern most folks have when it comes to running in the snow is falling. Legitimate concern. First rule, SLOW down. This isn’t the time to fret about your pace or try to do a targeted speed session. This morning I ran down the middle of the road in the tire tracks along the neighborhood streets, still slipping a bit, but I just took it slow and enjoyed my surroundings and quiet!

Foot selfie

Foot selfie

In the days ahead as this melts, refreezes, gets chunked and potted with holes and treacherous patches, go ahead and walk the few steps required to traverse a tricky patch of ice that you can’t go around.

When all these crazy slick spots get too annoying to deal with seek out a place with dirt or grass underneath, ie; the grass beside the sidewalk. The snow is more likely to remain snow on these surfaces, stay soft and you’ll be able to navigate more safely than you would the sidewalk where it can go from clear and dry to slick every few feet.

Another option is to hit the trails, such as First Landing or even the hills at Trashmore in our area. Again the soft earth under the snow will help keep the surface runable.

I would recommend you avoid running in the dark on icy roads, if you must, be sure to wear a headlamp and pay close attention to your footing.

I’m a Colorado girl at heart and get so excited when I get to get out there and enjoy the flakes. There is just nothing like that hush a layer of snow creates, temporarily turning all chaos tranquil. Even if it doesn’t bring you the joy it brings me, don’t let it force you inside, embrace it, layer up and take it as a new challenge!

 

Foot selfie 2!

Foot selfie 2!

Happy New … Quarter!

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2014 is a week old…how are those resolutions going?

Frustrated? Overwhelmed? Have you already bailed on them? Maybe you didn’t even make any because they never work out.

I wrote a blog a couple of years ago suggesting you set goals instead of making resolutions. Goals just have more a more positive feel to them, imply a favorable result and also require a plan, usually detailed, to get there. Experts, whether they be diet, fitness or business, alway stress the importance at this time of year of setting smaller goals along the way – achievable ones! – to keep motivated. As athletes, we’re pretty good at setting goals and mapping out a plan to achieve them, picking smaller races along the way. But when your race is months away, maybe even more than a year, keeping your sights in the target can be difficult. Maybe you have some goals that don’t involve athletics that you’d like to achieve this year as well.

For the first time in quite a few years I have made some actual resolutions as well as set several goals, not all PR or race related. While feeling excited about making these resolutions stick, I could already feel that a target 12 months away, or without even a specific end date, was setting me up for trouble.

So, I had an idea.

Let’s just focus on the first quarter! Three months! 90 days! Even if you didn’t make any resolutions, why not make some now, or look at your goals for the year and pare them down to just the next 3 months! Simple and oh so manageable!

Apply it to everything you want to work on…pounds to lose, money to save, recipes to try, books to read, miles to swim, bike, run… I also encourage you to write down whatever it is, that really does help make it real. And if you want, let a family member or close friend in on your plan to help hold you more accountable. And don’t forget to forgive yourself for any slips along the way!

I’ll check back in at the end of March, let you know how I feel like I did with my resolutions, you can let me know how yours went and we’ll hit the reset button for the second quarter!

Happy New Quarter everyone!