The Decision

I have been an athlete for the majority of my life. I played softball, soccer, and basketball in high school and continued softball into college. After college, I stopped playing altogether and gained about 40 pounds in the process. Needless to say, the athlete in me has been dying to resurface and take back control.

I love sports, all things sports, but I’ve had 7 concussions, so my pickings are slim as to what sports I can play now… at 32, that’s a big fat zero, or so I thought. While I enjoy working out, going to the gym is boring. I’m used to having teammates there and the weight lifting was part of training for another sport, it was not the primary activity. This can make it difficult, even for someone who has done it half their life, to keep the drive to keep going.

As I was studying to finish my degree in strength and conditioning, I came across a little site called “Ironman.” No, no, not the awesome comic book turned movies with the talented and handsome RDJ, but the completely epic on its own triathlon.

There are different triathlons, from Sprints to Olympic to Ironman/Ironwoman, and a few in between. Here, I thought, would be not just one sport that I could train for, but 3. I went to the site and it opened a whole new world to me, and a new journey I would like you to join me on.

The site, http://www.ironman.com is full of everything triathlon that you could think of or desire. They have a site called “Ironman U” where you can take a course in “Introduction into Triathlons” and it will tell you what to expect, what your diet should/could consist of, what to expect on race day, and how to train for the race itself.

They have communities that you can join to find other triathletes to help you through your process and access to coaches who can give you tips and pointers on how to develop your skills for race day.

I am excited about the opportunity to get back into being competitive, that drive is something that never truly goes away. I would love for you to go on this journey with me, not just for fun, but also for a bit of accountability. Sometimes we just need someone outside of ourselves to give us that little nudge to keep going when we hit a rough patch, that’s where you come in.

So, join me please, all you have to do is read a blog, I’m doing all the “heavy lifting.” Here goes nothing, let’s see how long it takes to get to Kona!

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Reached the Half Mile Mark

This week was not terrible, but my reps were upped to 1000 per session and that kicked my ass for sure! I did not get all 1000 every session, which is upsetting, but I got between 800 and 1000 at every session, so that’s something.

I did reach the 1500 meter/ half mile mark in the pool. I did 17.5 laps in 21:44. I need to get that down by about 10 minutes to reach the time that the swim part of the race in Philly was swam last year. I can do it, I just need to buckle down and push myself even harder than I do now.

Still have not started cycling or running. However, I did get my bike, indoor trainer, and tri bars, so I will be ready when we do! Running will have to wait until the weather doesn’t suck – western PA in winter – so I won’t be running until March-ish.

My body has been recovering alright. I had a few days last week that were pretty rough, my legs were not about functioning, but I made it through! This week my arms are feeling it, but not as bad as my legs last week.

My weight has plateaued at the moment, but I can feel my tire around the waist getting smaller, so I’m not sure the cause of the weight gain. It was only half a pound and it was probably just a balance out from being sick and then eating again, or water retention, or muscle building. Whatever the cause, I’m not terribly concerned about it, we’ll do some measurements and see how close I am to my body fat percentage needed for optimal functioning during the race.

 

Training After Being Sick

Getting back to training after being sick is no joke. It can take a minute or two for your body to readjust from being in bed all week to being pushed to its limits. I must say though, it felt really good!

The pool was definitely the hardest part this week, up to just over 1/4 of a mile and pushing it out in under 20 minutes was rough after last week. I don’t think it would had been as rough if I had only had a cold, but having an upper respiratory infection makes breathing on land difficult, let alone under water.

Missed a week of weights, which is upsetting, I felt like I was making real progress in my CNS conditioning. Thankfully, as I jumped back into it, it didn’t feel as set back as I thought it would. Still having trouble with safety back squats and bench press, but I’ve had issues with bench press since I was 13 years old, somethings never change.

I did however gain half a pound back. I’m not excited about it but it’s not ruining my vibe either. It happens and it’s not like I gained the whole 10 pounds back, this could simply be lean muscle growth or the fact that I ate nothing but soup while sick and started eating closer to my 1600 calories again and it had to level out. Whatever the cause, I’m not crying over it and I’ll see where I’m at next Friday.

All in all, it felt really good to get back to training and not be sick anymore!

 

Sick in the Middle of Training

This week was definitely not one that I would like to repeat anytime soon! Upper respiratory infections are no joke and they do quite the number on your system.

Last Friday I did my workout, wasn’t feeling fantastic, but got it done and went on about my night. Saturday, however, whole different story. I woke up feeling like a zombie, stuffy nose, achy body, and totally exhausted. You know the kind of aches that aren’t from the training session the day before, the kind where you hurt everywhere, but can’t even tell you trained the day before because of how sick you are.

I went to work anyway, tried to punch through and got the day – but no training. It was awful. Sunday, got up, still feeling the same way, was all set to train and then got sick from something I ate and that ended that day.

Monday, I get up feeling pretty decent, assuming the worst is over. You know what they say about assuming…. Did my workout, dizzy, tired, blurred vision, achy body, and some mild vomiting, 3.5 hours later I was done. I did not swim all week, I couldn’t breathe on land I wasn’t about to try and see if I could in water. Plus, I really didn’t need to see if it was going to turn into pneumonia or bronchitis, so I thought laying low from the pool was a pretty good idea.

I did not workout for the rest of the week, until today. All week was on again, off again with being at work. Finally I went to the ER and got an antibiotic and was feeling better by Friday. So today I decided I needed to get back to training, so I did.

While it was rough because of being off, it was also refreshing. I felt pretty good, even though my breathing was still shallow and sometimes difficult, I got through my session in about 1 – 1.5 hours which is typical for me.

I can still feel that I am not 100% and that my body needs a serious nap, but I am feeling monumentally better than I’ve felt all week, so there’s that!

My bike trainer came in, my bike is here, now all I need is to get that to the gym and begin that part of my torture – I mean training – sessions.

June 24th will be here sooner than I think….

Past 2 Weeks of Training

I have officially signed up for the Escape Series Philadelphia Olympic Triathlon on June 24, 2018!!

The last 2 weeks of training have been rough! I know it will all be worth it in the end, but some days it’s the last thing I want to do!

I am up to 4 days a week of 600 total reps of exercises each day. Now, this may seem absolutely insane and you’d be right, but for the type of conditioning we are going for within my central nervous system, this is the bottom and we are working our way up.

5 days a week I am hitting the pool and getting laps in. Unfortunately, being that I live in Pennsylvania, open water swimming in December is not going to happen, so pool time it is. It’s not easy, my breathing is terrible and my stroke needs assistance. But we are working it out and I am feeling like I am getting stronger.

I notice that I am carrying myself differently in that my back is straighter and my shoulders are in proper alignment. I can breathe easier because I am more upright, and my structure is beginning to line up properly during my lifting. I can feel myself using my whole body for my lifts instead of just the main muscle in the exercise and what a difference a few small tweaks make!

The diet of 1900 calories or less was difficult to deal with the first week, but this second and even more so the third week, I have gotten used to it and am better at figuring out what to eat and when to eat it and how much of it to eat.

It’s also helped me realize that some foods, while they taste amazing, are not worth giving up the calories for. It makes it easier to walk away from it, even over the holidays, since I know I have no desire to blow 300 of my 1900 calories on a hot chocolate. You read that right, 300, that’s half a meal…. Coffee is only 5 calories, so guess who drinks coffee now.

Point being, this is rough, and I knew it would be, but I am adjusting, and I can already feel the changes in my body. I have lost 4.5 pounds in the first 2 weeks, I will be checking again tomorrow before the start of the 4th week.

Wish me luck, only 24 more weeks to go!

Olympic Tri Training Week 1

WOW, what a week in my life for training!

My trainer surprised me by starting earlier than I thought we were going to, which is no problem, just a surprise. 28 weeks out and what a way to start.

For these next 28 weeks, I’m going to get my ass kicked….

This past week, 3 straight days of 100-200 rep sets with 1-2 minute rests in between each set or exercise. 5 straight days of swimming. It’s amazing how easily you can fall asleep and stay asleep when you have taxed out your body.

These first 10 weeks are conditioning for my central nervous system (CNS), so it is go hard, as hard as you can, for as long as you can, until failure. When I say we are taxing my body, we are TAXING my body. Failure and fatigue are real and let me tell you, it hurts so much it feels good.

I know that sounds weird to most people, but when you’re in the midst of a workout like this and you know the end result will be worth it, it makes the journey that much easier to get through. This is going to be one long journey over the next few months.

My swim times were not too bad, I did 5.5 laps in 8:25 and 6 laps in 9:08. For someone who hasn’t swam like that in, lets go with close to 15-20 years, I’d say that’s not too shabby. I still need a ton of work on my breathing, in all areas of breathing, and my stroke isn’t up to par yet, but I’m feeling pretty good about the swimming.

It’s just that moment when you’re like “yes, last day of swimming for the week!” ….but then you remember that that means you’re back to the beginning and your ass is grass in the weight room!

Shout out to my foam roller and my lacrosse ball, you are the real MVPs!

Gotta love it.

My Holiday Races

I did it, I ran a 5k on Thanksgiving and a 10k the following weekend. Not sure why, but I did!

The 5k on Thanksgiving, aptly named “Gobble Wobble” was outside at our lovely community park and it was freezing! I couldn’t find my gloves before I left nor the night before, so about 5 minutes before the race started, I couldn’t feel them.

I placed 27th in my age group (30-34), with a pace of 11:26 and a total time of 35:27.27. That’s 3 minutes slower than my time at the 5k in September, which I’m not thrilled about, but given that I’ve never run in 20-30 degree weather, I’m not terribly upset.

The following weekend, this past weekend, I ran an indoor 10k at the IX Center near Cleveland, OH. It was awesome! The course was done over all 3 levels of the building and including 6 100 and 200 feet inclines/declines of 7 inches, I felt all 7 inches of those believe me.

The 5k ran it once, the 10k twice, and I’m really proud of myself for finishing! I did so in 1:14.00 – unofficially per my Nike Run Club app since I have no idea where to find it online to check my official time. Which breaks down to about a 12:00 pace. I did walk a few more times or longer on a few than I wanted to, but as far as my first ever 10k goes, being 20 minutes off the first place finisher isn’t too shabby.

Half way through and multiple times after, I found myself smiling and laughing at myself saying “DUDE, you’re doing it! You’re actually running a 10k, this is crazy! I’m so proud of you!” I know this sounds corny and I didn’t use to care about self talk or pumping myself up for fear of coming off as arrogant, but what a difference it makes!

Just encouraging myself, putting in the time and the thoughts when no one else is there, when I could have been eating pizza and watching movies, I was there, running and bettering myself and it felt fantastic! I don’t know if it was a ‘runner’s high’ or just me finally allowing myself to show myself some love, but I can’t wait to do it again!

Oh, almost forgot, everyone who ran the 10k got a medal, the one I’m holding… no big deal or anything, but it SPINS! The IX Center has a huge ferris wheel inside of it and the medal is the ferris wheel, so the wheel spins! Sometimes the little things make it so worth it! One medal down, a ton more to go…..

January starts my training for an Olympic Triathlon in June. I am aiming for the June 24th race in Philadelphia, part of the Escape Series of races. 1500 meter swim – 26 mile bike – 10K run. I am fully prepared to get my butt kicked by my trainer/boss and can’t wait to get back into the type of training I had in college and high school.

I know it’ll be hard, but I know it’ll be worth even more when I cross that finish line in Philly in June!

Sundays Are Not Fundays Anymore

I have been getting deeper into my training, with only 4 weeks left until my 10k in Cleveland and it is quickly getting up there in miles. Sundays are now my dreaded days strictly because my mileage on that day is consistently high.

Two weeks ago Sunday was a 5.25 miler. Last Sunday was a 6.00 miler (10k). This Sunday is 6.75 miler and it just goes up from there for the next two weeks. I know that this is to make me stronger and increase my aerobic capacity and my endurance, but it sucks while I’m doing it!

I have a 5k the week before my 10k (Thanksgiving Day), so that should be interesting. I’m going to treat it like a recovery run, since I have one that week that is 3 miles anyhow. This will be my second race ever and I feel like it could give me a good idea of where I am for the 10k and what time I can expect and try to beat.

Most importantly, I learned a very valuable lesson during this weeks training, shoes are important! I generally wear my Asics to run in, but I wore my Nike shoes instead, huge mistake. Now, I’m not knocking Nike, these just weren’t their training shoes, these were just regular everyday shoes, but man did I get some massive shin splints about 1 mile in. It was so bad that I barely made it through my run. I am making sure to stick to my Asics to run in.

Nike may work for your feet and that’s great, but the Asics seem to be the best pair for mine and man did I find that out the hard/painful way! The thing to remember here isn’t so much brand name, but what fits your feet and works for your body best, just like with anything else.

I started working at a new gym in town and my boss has a specified program he came up with that is fantastic. I have started to integrate this into my training and I love it! The program is great, using negative training and a timed rep scheme, it’s a low impact HIIT program that I can definitely feel the changes happening quickly.

Mixing this program with my running and other weight program is helping immensely with endurance, injury prevention, fatigue, and strength. I’m excited to get through my next 2 races and begin a training program for the triathlon in Philadelphia in June that I plan on competing in.

Again, remember, make sure you have the proper shoes that fit your feet and have the right support for your legs and back during runs, it makes a world of difference!

Starting Weight Training & Yoga Programs

So I have decided to add a weight training and yoga program to my running program. I have registered for the 10k in Cleveland in December and needed to up my training.

Running is great, but adding the weight training will help with muscle endurance and make my body stronger to help avoid injuries. Plus, adding this in helps my body to work out additional areas so that the areas used during running do not become overworked and thus inhibit my ability to train and perform at an optimal level.

The yoga program is to help keep my body loose and moving. Stretching is important, we all know that, but yoga helps with muscle endurance and strength as well as stretching the muscles. Some people think yoga is silly, but I have personally seen vast improvements in my strength, flexibility, and stamina just from adding it for as little as a week.

Yoga also helps with recovery, so having this can help my body recover faster and stay fresh for each training session.

I’m really excited about this 10k, the running program I’ve been using through Nike Run Club is pretty intense, but I love it. It makes me push myself when I normally would not and when it keeps popping up on my phone that I have a workout, pretty hard to ignore it. Also, the coaches that are on there are pretty motivating and it makes the runs borderline effortless.

I’ll let you know how sore I am by the end of the week.

 

Back into Training

After taking the week after my 5k off, I am back into training for the next race. There is one in my town on Thanksgiving, called the “Gobble Wobble” and I’m not sure if it’s 5k or 10k, the information has not been distributed yet. There is a 10k, indoors, in Cleveland in December that I am really aiming for, just need to register.

Training this week has been interesting. Started out the new training program with a benchmark run and felt good. Ran on the treadmill and wasn’t completely dead at the end, but dead enough to where I knew I had put in work.

Second day out, just a quick 1/2 mile jog and it felt fantastic. I felt like I could keep going for another 5k, at the moment. I was happy to be back out running, and if you know me, that’s hilarious because I used to hate running unless it was to get food or beer. Now, however, I take it as ‘me time’ and use it to get myself to the one thing that I’ve wanted in life more than anything, being a pro athlete – hence the drive for Kona.

Day 3, on the other hand, not as awesome legs started to feel tired, it was the 3rd day in a row after a week off and my body was starting to feel it. My legs were not terrible but had started to get heavy half way through. Thankfully it was only another 1/2 jog, so I finished without any issues.

Day 4 felt like a disaster! After only about .15 – .25 miles in, my body wanted to curl up and nap. My legs were dead, my body was tired and I was pissed. As I was running, I was trying to figure out what the hell was going on, why did I need to keep stopping and start walking, it was only a mile, this shouldn’t have been an issue. Then it hit me, I really hadn’t eaten all day and now here I was out for a mile long run without any real fuel in me. That was dumb, I should know better, but there I was in pain and struggling. I finished the mile of walk/run and was still pretty mad at myself, but I finished it instead of packing it up and heading home early. Some days you have to suck it up and deal, that was yesterday for sure.

Today, thankfully, is a well needed rest day and tomorrow I start right back up. I will implementing a swimming and biking program as soon as I figure out the times that will work best for recovery and training with work. The running has been a great starting point for me and I’m so excited about adding in the rest of the sports for the triathlons as I go along.