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.

Brick Wall Week

Well, 3 weeks in and I hit a bit of a wall. Working midnight shift and training is rough, especially when my bike tire popped and I haven’t started swimming yet, so all I’m doing is running. I hate running.

Had to get my mountain bike fixed, the tube in the tire had a hole. Went to my bike shop, they fixed it, but the next day the bike was just sitting in my living room and the I hear “pop hiss” and there goes the brand new tube and my cat’s sanity.

Running is by far the hardest aspect for me, mentally. I’ve always hated running, ALWAYS. The only kind of run I ever wanted to go on involved car keys, my id, money, food, and alcohol. If I was actually running, outside of playing a sport, then you should run as well because God only knows what was chasing me!

My best friend ran cross country in high school, we’ve known each other since kindergarten, she always asked me to run, I always laughed. Now I’m running on purpose and she’s pregnant. I’m not laughing but she is.

I have been exhausted because of work. I’ve gotten more hours and stocking shelves is not easy labor some of those boxes are heavy, climbing a ladder sucks, and most of the time I’m in 37 degrees or below stocking the yogurt. It takes me about an hour or so to dethaw when I get home, so I’m pretty tired by the time I finally pass out.

I’m usually up by noon or 1pm, but the last week all I’ve wanted to do is sleep the entire day until I got up for work at 9pm. I missed one run and felt like a total failure, which made me want to sleep more. Odd how you can be so tired after a workout yet not as tired as when you don’t workout. The body is crazy.

Mentally, my brain keeps saying “go back to bed, it’s just one run.” One run this week, the whole program by next month, not something I’m willing to give up. So, I have to drag myself out of bed and force myself to go for a run. This seems terrible, but we’ve all been there, the brain wants to give up before the body or vice versa. My brain has always been a love/hate thing with me.

I went for the run, and I felt amazing! I did my benchmark run, 7 minute warm up, 3 minutes of as hard and fast as I could go, and 5 minute cool down. I was shocked at how long I could go at a fairly easy pace during the warmup and cool down after only 3 weeks. I was able to go farther before having to start walking again and my body didn’t feel like death after 30 seconds. BOOM, I count that a success and you should too (little victories).

The part in the middle however, now that part sucked! I could only go for 30 second spurts and it was only 3 minutes long. Granted, it was as hard as I could go, for as long as I could, as fast as I could, and build up the speed. Man did I feel like I hadn’t progressed at all, but I have. Getting back into shape is hard, getting into a training regimen that includes swimming, biking, and running – even harder. Hating running and noticing how much better you’re getting at it, definitely a motivator.

It was a rough week, but I keep pushing, greatness doesn’t happen overnight, neither does change. Success is a result of a compound effect of years of hard work and dedication. Champions work when no one is watching, that’s what separates great from good, trophy or not, I want to be great.

Side note, totally went too hard on that run and got sick, not cool. Keep pushing, but stay within your heart rate and doctor’s recommendations, vomiting after a run is not fun. I will also, due to work, never eat yogurt again so don’t be shocked when you do not see any mention of eating yogurt during my training. I now have an irrational hatred for the stuff.

The Storm after the Decision

The last couple of weeks have been an interesting dive into the unknown for me. I understand most sports, what equipment to get, how/where to get it, and how to go about joining a team, but triathlons are different.

There are club (TriClubs) that can be found in your area and you can become a member of. They go on rides together, train together, can teach you the ropes if you’re a beginner, and help you along your journey. Most clubs are welcoming and understanding, because hey they’ve been the newbie too, and there is a lot to learn about riding and running and swimming.

Once you’ve found a triclub – which I’m still working on – you should probably ask around for the best places to get equipment or what kind of equipment you will need. Before you ask, yes, there is a ton of equipment involved in triathlons, but don’t worry, you don’t have to go full boar to start and clear out your life savings.

There is a bike shop in my hometown, I went up there and the guys are great! I told them that I was starting to train for triathlons and they took me right over to the road bikes and tri bikes. They explained the differences, new versus used and what to look for in your fit for your body. They even let me take it for a spin around the block a few times to learn the gears and get a feel for how a road bike rides.

What’s really cool is that they have a lay-away system where I can throw a few bucks down, claim the bike, and pay it off within a few months. Pretty reasonable considering I did not have the $450 chilling in my pocket. They didn’t push the newest bike either, they showed me the used bike, which was actually a bump up from the new bike. The only reason the used bike was traded in was because the lady ordered another tribike.

There are also places that will rent you bikes for races, checking into that so that you do not have to fly your bike everywhere is an option. Ask your local bike shop about their options for rent or buy.

If a bike or riding outside is not possible, there are always spinning or cycling classes that you can take. I know that it can be intimidating at first, but everyone starts somewhere and before you know it you’ll be riding like a pro. Prices vary depending on type of class and where the classes are held, but your community rec center or health club should have them, or a gym may have them as well. Best to check around and talk to someone about pricing and classes for beginners and triathlon athletes.

Running doesn’t involve much equipment, a decent pair of shoes, sunscreen, some good tunes, heart rate monitor, and water/sports drink. Heart rate monitors are easy to find considering most of our phones and watches (especially Fitbit, Apple, or Galaxy) are set up to monitor steps and heart rates.

You don’t have to go out and buy the fanciest one, anyone will do, just so long as you can monitor your heart rate to make sure you’re not going above your target heart rate (THR) and overdoing it, or below it and not getting anything out of the run. Staying within your THR is best for working out and keeps you from hurting yourself in the long run.

Shoes, well, shoes. There are millions of types of shoes, most people I know run in Nike, Asics, Adidas, or Reebok. I alternate between my Nike, Puma, and Asics. Alternating helps keep your arches from falling and is recommended by doctors for various health reasons. Just like you shouldn’t wear the same shoes every single day at work, you shouldn’t do that for running either. Again, no need to blow your savings on a few pairs of shoes, just make sure they are comfortable, they won’t give you blisters, and they’re the right size and fit for your foot.

Swimming involves goggles, suit, cap, sunscreen (if outside), and possibly a membership to a rec center or health club. Swimming doesn’t seem like it would be that difficult to swing, but when you realize that you need to swim laps and not just kick it at the beach or pool side, it becomes a little different.

Finding a pool that is a minimum of 25 meters is necessary for proper training, if a lake or ocean are not easily accessible. (Swimming for most triathlons is done in open water, not a pool, so some form of training in a lake or ocean is recommended) I doubt you have a pool that size at your house, if you do, kudos to you and can I come over and hang out?

Most of your recreation centers or health clubs within your community will have these types of pools and usually a general membership will allow you access to them. The rec center in my hometown, like most, has specific times that they allow lap swims and you can even reserve a lane to practice by yourself in. Most lanes are shared and there are rules about how to share a lane, and if you ask, I’m sure they will be more than willing to explain them to you.

All of this can seem overwhelming and probably scare you away from training, but stop, take a breath, and relax. It’s only scary at first, once you dive in and get into a groove (there are a ton of people who are willing to help) you’ll be fine in no time.

So far, I have my bike waiting for me to pick it up, a membership to go get, and my running shoes need some febreeze.

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, 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!