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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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.

RACE DAY

It’s finally race day! September 4, 2017 was my first ever race, a 5k (3 miles). I was nervous but felt pretty good. My 2 goals were to run the entire race and finish the race, here’s how it went.

First, I had to work the midnight shift Sunday night, so I got off of work at 7am, ate a small meal to have some energy for the race and sipped on fluids to make sure I didn’t get dehydrated. By 9am, it was race time and I started out feeling great!

About a mile in, the dead legs started to seriously kick in. The exhaustion from being up all night was taking over and I decided to walk for a bit so that I could have something in the tank to finish the race. Goal #1 not accomplished, but in order to finish the race, I decided that I wasn’t going to kill myself over run/walking my first race. Turns out, that was a smart decision.

I only walked for about 200 meters and was back to running and periodically throughout the last 2 miles walked for about 200 meters when my legs started to feel like they were going to fall off, and it definitely made it possible for me to finish the race.

Goal #2 was accomplished and I ran across the finish the line with a time of 32:49, good enough for an 11th place finish in my age group. This was great because it wasn’t far off of my 10:30 pace I had done in training, so I was pretty excited about the outcome.

The run itself wasn’t bad, the sun started to beat down, but the last 2 miles were inside the park and there was a ton of shade and a slight breeze that made it not so stifling hot. All along the route (which was the parade route) there were people cheering and incredibly encouraging. Of course my family yelled out to me, which was a new experience since playing team sports you don’t really hear them as much individually as in a race.

Overall, my legs weren’t in terrible condition afterwards, of course the epsom salt soak helped immensely with that, and I was able to nap it out the rest of the day before heading to work at 11pm that night.

Lessons learned:

  1. Get the night before and the night of the race off of work (seriously, don’t do that to yourself again)
  2. Stay hydrated during training and especially the week leading up to the race and eat enough carbs and fats and proteins to make sure your energy stores are at their optimal level for race day
  3. Make sure you have food and liquids for immediately after the race and give yourself time to wind your body down
  4. Have fun! It’s only a race and like my cousin said “At least you’re out there as opposed to not.” True statement!

Highlights of the race… other than finishing it and in a decent time…. Having my family there, getting a Smiley Face cookie, chocolate milk, bottle of water, and half a banana after the race. Oh, and my first race sticker!

I have my sights sets on two more races before the end of the year, one in November on Thanksgiving (another 5k) and one in December in Cleveland (10k indoors). I’ll keep you posted as my training for those starts tomorrow!

One Week to Go

Next Monday, September 4, is my first ever 5k. I have never run a race before, of any kind outside of training for another sport, and I am nervous. I am nervous because I’m always a little nervous before an event and because I’ve never done this before.

I have 2 goals for the race:

  1. Run the entire 3 miles
  2. Keep at my current 10’30” pace or better

I have been sick this whole last week and only got 1 run in, of course that 1 run was a 3 mile run and I did it in 31’00”, so I’m pretty pumped about that. I have been mixing my running between treadmill and outside depending on the weather and my time during the day. Sometimes I can be faster on the treadmill because the ground is moving also, some days I have a little more time, so I’ll hit the park.

Since the race is outside and partially in the park, I’ve been training more at the park and getting used to the road surfaces there. It’s definitely different than indoors, but my times are keeping within a minute of each other, so that makes me feel pretty good.

In May I started at 14′-15′ mile and now I’m hovering around 10’30” consistently. Seeing the progress is so helpful and watching my body change and my legs become stronger is exciting. I’m only 32 but I’m getting my 18 year old body back, now if only my six pack would hurry back, that would be great.

The only thing I’m worried about is that I didn’t get the night off of work before or the day of the race, so I will be getting off of work at 7am, racing at 9am, and then back to work at 11pm that night. To say that I am going to be dead tired is an understatement, but nonetheless, I will finish this race.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Do Not Slack on Stretching

Got into my leg and arm days the past 2 weeks, however, I made the mistake of not stretching properly and am stiffer than I should be.

Stretching is of great importance, not just for athletic events or workouts, but also for everyday life. Stretching helps muscles recover, helps keep the body loose and prevent injuries, and can increase range of motion, making it easier to move on a daily basis. 

Especially after having just strained my hamstring, knowing how to properly stretch it is crucial, and I slacked off. Now both of my hamstring are tight, just bedning at the waist sucks during the day and just putting my legs out in front of me while sitting. So, I earned that.

Tomorrow starts my back to yoga 2 to 3 times a week and stretching each of the major muscle groups for 1 minute each after training. Not to mention proper techniques for recovery, foam rollers, Epsom salt baths, and fluids and fuel. 

It’s that moment when you know better and you screw it up, that super annoying moment, drives me nuts. I ushing through is what I do.

First Set Back

I switched jobs and got a shake up with my schedule, which in turn shook up my training schedule. Worst than that was that I has a slight strain in my hamstring, which made it feel like it was going to give out every time I moved.

My hamstring is back to 100% now and after a month of training, I have a stable daily schedule for my new job, so back to training I go. 

Started with a 10 minute run today, swimming tomorrow, and back to my regularly scheduled program after that. Easing my way back in, to ensure not reinjuring my right hammy or another injury altogether, but pushing myself so that I’m not completely back at square one.

Definitely going to be doing more yoga and foam roller usage to help keep my muscle limber & limit the lactic acid buildup. Heading to the store to grab more Epsom salt as well, this does wonders for muscle recovery!

I need to up my water intake and changed my diet around a bit to bring in more carbs & protein. 

Dealing with an injury is never fun, having to wait it out when it’s a strain is even less so, but it is necessary. I took the time off, came back and am easing in to avoid reinjuring the muscle, with proper precautions & adding more to my diet & workout to keep the muscles limber & recovering properly, I shouldn’t have this problem again for a while.

A Week Off was A Poor Decision

I went on a 5 mile run last week and it about killed me. I didn’t do a thing for the next 4-5 days and my body was hurting. Finally, I got up and jumped back out there, man did I pay for taking that week off.

I signed up at my local recreation center and started using their fitness center for my training. Running outside and running on a treadmill are different, your body responds differently to your feet landing on the track as opposed to the blacktop. My lower back let me know that, of course that could have been the cycling I did.

I sat on a bike machine where the seat was low and I was in a bit of a slouch. This is not how you sit on a bike for cycling and is not comfortable. I rode for a mile without stopping and my back was pretty pissed about it. It was stiff for the next few days which made running and stretching tougher than usual.

I kept stretching my back to relieve the tightness and it has been working. I need to remember to sit properly, with my hips rotated so that my spine is properly supported, so my back doesn’t suffer while riding again.

The rec center has a pool so I’m going to check into that on Monday. Just got a new suit to train in so this should be interesting. It’s been a long time since I’ve done any kind of lap swimming. Mostly when I’m in a pool anymore it’s with one of my little cousins attached at my hip or I’m on a floating device with a cold beverage in my hand.

I have been slacking on my yoga, which has been clear and is going to change. You’d be amazed at how much stronger and limber your body feels just from 10-20 minutes of yoga. People think it’s a weird exercise that doesn’t do anything or it’s not a real workout, trust me, I noticed a difference within DAYS of starting it and can tell when I’ve been slacking. Do yourself a favor and find a yoga that works for you and start it. It may be hard at the beginning, just keep going, it’s worth it.

I ran for an entire 1.25 miles without walking! This may not seem like much, but for me that’s a huge accomplishment and something that I can build on. I know that I can go that far without walking, next is 2 miles and so on. Baby steps, little victories, that’s how successes are made overnight. Believe me, champions take years to become overnight successes, this is my beginning.