I completed my first triathlon last weekend and it was such a blast! I’ve been getting a lot of questions from people seeking tips for their own training, so I figured it’d just be easier to blog an answer. Here’s what I learned throughout my process:
1.) If you don’t know something and you don’t have anyone to ask, YouTube it. Can’t take swimming lessons? There are YouTube videos that can show you how to perform a proper swim stroke. If you’ve never put on a wetsuit before, watch an instructional video. I had a lot of questions about little details, but didn’t have a lot of people I could ask, so YouTube was really helpful for me.
2.) Don’t stress about the transitions. I walked through my transition plan a couple of times the night before my race, and that was it. Make a checklist broken up by discipline, including everything you’ll need. For example:
Swim: Cap, goggles, wetsuit, body glide (oh yea, make sure you buy BodyGlide. It’ll keep you from chafing)
Bike: Helmet, sunglasses, shoes, socks, watch, water bottle, GU
Run: Race belt, bib #, hat
Other: Bath towel, hand towel, Nalgene, sunscreen
I made myself a little diagram of how I’d set up my station, and on race day it was easy to double check that I had everything. Lay out everything strategically on a bath towel, and plan out how you’ll run through it.
Tip 1: Make sure you have a water bottle and hand towel so you can wash your feet off after the swim. Nothing is grosser than stuffing wet, sandy feet into a tight pair of sneakers.
Tip 2: Have your sneakers untied so they’re ready to go. Not only does it save time, but if your hands shake when your muscles are fatigued, it’ll make things easier for you.
Tip 3: When you rack your bike at the start, put your bike seat on the rack so that your front tire is on the ground. Then put your helmet and sunglasses on your handlebars. Saves time.
Tip 4: Get a race belt or have some other type of cheap belt you can pin your bib to. It’s a lot easier to snap on a belt than to try futzing with pins when you’re in a rush.
Swimming in open water:
This one can either be scary or fun, it completely depends on your mind set. I went into my race with a calm mentality, telling myself to take my time, breathe, and keep up a steady swim stroke. For me, and I know this is true for other beginners, putting my face under water and seeing blackness causes panic. Especially when surrounded by hundreds of other swimmers and everything is chaos. I didn’t bother putting my head under water during the race, even though I knew it would mean being slightly less efficient, because I knew I’d be better off. If you’re an elite swimmer, this is probably not a problem; For me, I wanted to be able to see and breathe at all times. I kept my breathing the same as it would be for a normal pool swim, but I knew that keeping my head above water would help me hit my stride and stay calm. Do whatever works for you. There were about 600 people at my race, but luckily the swim waves were split by division so I only had to battle 50 people at once rather than everyone at the same time.
Tip 5: Practice swimming in a wet suit
I did not have access to a wet suit or open water until a couple of days before my race. Everything turned out perfectly fine, but if you can practice beforehand, it’ll be helpful. Swimming in open water in a wetsuit is much harder than pool swimming in a bathing suit. Oh, and the biggest tip of all: NEVER EVER RENT YOUR WETSUIT ONLINE. I made the mistake of ordering through triwetsuitrentals.com and it was not a good experience. They couldn’t ship it to me when I needed it, so I got it right before the weekend, and it didn’t fit. I found this out when I did a practice swim and practically drowned. It felt like I was being wrestled under water by a relentless small child. When I emailed the company in a panic because my race was in 2 days, they just told me it was the right size I just needed to try and work the material onto my appendages differently. Ummmm… No. When water is rushing in through my wrist and ankle holes, and there is a giant air bubble around my hips and waist no matter how I try and work the suit up, I’m telling you it is TOO BIG. Plus, the material was really really shitty. Fortunately, a shop about 45 minutes from me had one left in my size, so I ordered it the day before my race. Luckily it was perfect because I had zero time to practice in it. So, yeah. Always rent local and practice in your suit.
Just invest in a decent bike, guys. A lot of online resources tell you to borrow your friend’s old Huffy bike or something like that for your first race, but if the terrain is tough, you will be miserable. At the very least, rent a road bike for the big day. I’m not a bike connoissuer by any stretch of the imagination; in fact, I’m a minimalist when it comes to sporting equipment (one of the many reasons I love running so much is the fact that all you really need is a pair of sneakers) but I can assure you that you will have to work 10x as hard on your ride if you’re battling a crappy piece of equipment. I bought a Trek a couple months ago (about $600) and it completely changed my view of cycling. I fell in love with the sport simply because I finally got to be outside on a bike that worked with me instead of against me. If you’re not into biking and you don’t want to invest in something you’ll never use, then just rent. I saw people riding old dirt bikes, and I will tell you that they suffered a lot on hills. If you’re looking to buy, your best bet is to go to a shop and have them fit you for something. You can tell them your price point and they’ll work with you. For brands, I know that Trek, Fuji, Defy, Denali and Secteur are used by a lot of people. Beyond that… well, you’re better off asking a seasoned cyclist. #BikingNewbie
Ironically, running was physically the hardest part of the race for me because the first 1.5 miles were straight uphill. But I didn’t even care because I was so happy about what I was accomplishing. My best advice is to just take your time. Ignore your brick legs, ignore any fatigue, and just smile. I guess it’s different if you’re trying to actually win, but if you’re more interested in just having a fun race, don’t put pressure on it. I’m not sure what else to say about this part… running a 5k is pretty straight forward.
Fuel is always a personal preference thing. I had a slice of toast w/ a little jelly 3 hours before my race, and a banana 1 hour before. I used GU during the bike ride and had a Vega Protein Shake to recover. The day before endurance events I always hydrate like a beast, and have pasta or some type of starchy carb for dinner. Find what works best for you, everyone is different.
The most important tip I can give is: just have fun. When you stay calm, put a smile on your face, and let yourself zone out into that athlete mentality, everything is a lot better. That’s all I’ve got for now. There are tons of websites out there with information written by elites, but I know how much I wished I could talk to a novice before my race, so feel free to ask me any questions you might have!
And as always, Remember to breathe.
Today’s the last accountability post! If you’ve been following along and emailing me your progress, thank you and keep going! Week 4 was a tough but rewarding one for me. We went up in difficulty level last week, and I definitely felt it! Here’s what went down:
~21 mile interval bike 1-2 levels harder than last week. Lots of hills.
~ 3 mile interval run: 5 minute warm up, 2 minutes @ comfortable pace, 3 x 5 minutes @ 7.5-8 mph/ 1 minute @recovery pace, 3 minute cool down
~ 15 mins HIIT w/ suicides in between stations
~15 minutes abs/stretching
1.) I didn’t feel sore until Wednesday’s spin class came around. My coach said, “So, who feels their quads today?”. I shrugged and thought, “I feel fine. What’s he talking about?” Theeeen we started pedaling. Holy. Crap. Ouch. I still haven’t warmed up to biking. I really really WANT to love it, but I’m just barely tolerating it right now. I know that part of the problem is the fact that we’re inside, and the other part of the problem is that my coach doesn’t really put on motivating music. John Mayer is great, but not when you’re working out.
2.) I don’t think the cycling pants I bought make any difference. If anything I felt more sore. Oh well!
1.) Changing what/when I eat has definitely helped. Eating a small dinner a couple hours before practice and then taking a GU halfway through seems to be a smarter way to go for now.
2.) I’ve totally fallen in love with swimming. This makes me really happy as the whole point of signing up for this adventure was to become a more well-rounded athlete and to become a better swimmer. I’m excited to keep getting better and to practice in a wet suit.
So, that’s it for the accountability posts for a while! I hope that you’ve all been making great strides with your own goals, and that reading along with my journey has helped you to keep trucking along too. Thanks for checking in and please feel free to keep emailing me! I’m always happy to help however I can, even if it’s just to lend an ear.
And as always, Remember to breathe.
Week 3 of triathlon training is done and oh dear, the dreams have begun. I’m a little surprised that they’ve started so early since I still have several months before my race, but pretty much every night in my sleep I find myself swimming around obstacles (??), or biking across hilly terrain. Anyway, I hope you’ve all been working hard toward your own goals, because now is the time to really push for what you want. Here’s my week 3 recap:
Most things were kept pretty much the same. We did the same swim workout as last week, and only minor things changed for our biking and running drills. Unfortunately, our HIIT portion got cut short halfway through on Monday because one of my teammates sprained her ankle. Yikes! This week we did:
~ 40 minutes spinning intervals
~25 minute run w/ 5 minute warmup, 2 mins at comfortable pace, then adding .1 to speed every minute. (ex. if you started at 6 mph, after 5 minutes you’d be running at 6.5 mph)
~HIIT – 20 secs on/10 secs recovery
~15 mins pilates/abs
I also bought (hopefully) better goggles and a pair of padded cycling capris… Not really sure how I’m going to run in them, but it’ll be an adventure.
1.) There aren’t enough days in a week to be able to do everything. I really need to add another day of swimming, but the only way to do it is to add it to one of my lifting days and lap swim at my gym is EARLY on weekends. Meaning I will a.) have to give up my one day of sleeping in and b.) will smell like chlorine through my whole workout after. But reaching goals requires certain sacrifices, and these ones aren’t really too bad.
2.) I want to train outside!! It’s great being able to do things indoors considering it’s been -10 all week, but I don’t really know how my workouts are going to translate outdoors. I’m riding 20 miles with varying degrees of resistance on a stationary bike twice a week, but how much does that really mimic the hills of the course? And doing swim drills are great, but will technique really matter when I’m battling hundreds of thrashing swimmers in a wetsuit and open water? There isn’t much I can do till it’s warm, but I’ve been thinking about this issue every day.
1.) I’m definitely seeing improvement each week!
2.) I’ve started to really love swimming. Maybe it’s the way you have to control your breathing, or the weightlessness of it, but it makes me feel really calm. I’m really excited to keep learning and getting more efficient. So, that’s 2 for 3. Biking is still just tolerable right now, but I suspect it’ll be more fun when I can get outside.
That’s pretty much it! How are you all doing with everything? Anything I can help with? There’s only 1 more week of accountability posts, so make sure you stick with it, and keep visualizing that success!
And as always, Remember to breathe.
Another week of Triathlon training has come and gone. As always, there were ups and downs, but I learned a lot. Did you all stay on track with your own goals? Here’s a rundown of my week:
Monday’s HIIT portion was absolutely one of the hardest workouts I’ve ever done – yes, harder than Insanity and GORUCK training. Mostly because by the time we get to the HIIT part, we’ve already been doing intervals for over an hour. We unfortunately had a blizzard on Wednesday, so I didn’t have class that day, but I was tired anyway so perhaps that was for the best. We also started swimming this week, which went much better than I expected. Last night, I started doing research and watching YouTube videos to get a feel for how the transition stations are going to go. It made it feel a LOT more real, and now I know it’s time to really get focused, be strict with my nutrition, and start building my mileage back up. Here’s a breakdown of our workout this week:
~ 40 minutes spinning intervals, 1-2 levels harder than last week
~ 25 minute interval run (10 minutes steady run, 3x 2 mins @5k race pace/2 mins @recovery pace, 5 minute cooldown)
~20 mins HIIT (Hard to explain this one. Basically it’s 8 stations of things like burpees, box jumps, tricep dips, etc. You do 5 rounds of 15 secs on/5 secs rest for each station. After every 2 stations, you do 5 rounds of: sprint up and back the length of the room, 5 pushups. Then go straight into the next station without rest.)
~ 15 minutes pilates/core work
1.) When you transition from one discipline to another in the same workout (Swimming to biking, biking to running, etc.), it’s called brick training. I’m convinced it’s called this because that is exactly how your legs feel.
2.) Figuring out nutrition is always challenging. Not just what/how much to eat, but WHEN to eat. I’ve decided to start going light on dinner and having a protein shake after class, even though I don’t like eating anything after 9, because having protein before a workout just does not work well. Being vegan poses its own unique set of challenges, but if Brendan Brazier can be a pro-ironman on a plant-based diet, I’m pretty sure I can do this.
3.) I found out you’re not allowed to have headphones on the course! The bike isn’t a big deal I guess, but I hate running without music. They give you a 2-minute time penalty, but since I don’t really care about time, I might just do it anyway.
1.) When I put my swim cap and goggles on for the first time I was SUPER grouchy because they’re uncomfortable. I kept looking longingly at my running shoes, wondering aloud why I was doing this. But I knew what I was really feeling was just anxiety about the swim. My anger faded immediately when I got in the water and realized, “Ooohhh, this gear is actually totally helpful.” I also feel like swimming is really similar to pilates in a lot of ways. I’m definitely not going to be challenging Michael Phelps to a race any time soon, and I probably look more like a flapping duck than a mermaid in the water, but I feel much better about it. Glad to have a coach, a team, and a few months to learn technique.
2.) Despite being a little grumpy when I got up this morning, I was able to get in a really great 4-miler and pilates class. The run felt so blissful that I wanted to do 5, but I figured I should give it another week since I haven’t done much above a 5k in a couple months. I can’t wait to be able to do bricks outside, and to start loving the other disciplines too.
So, that’s pretty much it for this week. How did you all do? Have you changed your goals at all, or figured out new tactics? I was really happy to see some positive emails from you guys, so keep them coming. I’m going to be posting 2 more weeks worth of training diaries, so stay accountable!!
And as always, Remember to breathe.
Week 1 of accountability is complete — how’d everyone do? Hope you are all working hard toward your goals. The first week of my triathlon training was awesome. Here’s a recap:
I headed to the gym on Monday night feeling both anxious and excited. I had no idea what type of people were going to be in the class, and I only had a rough idea of what we’d be doing for 2 hours. I decided to snap a photo to document the mild trepidation:
It turned out to be really fun! There are people of all ages and ability levels in there, and the course is great because it allows everyone to go at their own level. This week we did: 40 minutes spinning, 2 mile run, 25 minutes HIIT, 15 minutes pilates and stretching. Monday was my first time taking a spin class and it was a little boring because we were listening to ’70s disco and I’m not a huge fan of stationary bikes in general, but Wednesday was much rowdier and way more fun. Anywho, here are the top challenges and successes from the week:
1.) I’m so lucky to have a job that I love, but it’s also #5 on the Most Stressful Jobs of 2013 list for a reason. By the time 7:30 rolls around, I’m exhausted and it takes a lot of psyching-up to prepare myself for a long workout.
2.) Bike seats are super uncomfortable. I need to buy those little bike shorts with pads in the butt.
3.) I was supposed to go to my first swim practice on Thursday, but I fell asleep on the couch!!! I guess I was tired, but jeez. That never happens.
1.) I was in charge of making the workout playlist on Wednesday, and somehow every song lined up with what we were doing. Having 20 people work out to bands like Something Corporate and POTUS, and hearing them keep yelling “I LOVE THIS PLAYLIST!” was a mega win. I’ll post half of the playlist below incase anyone is jonesin’ for some new tunes. Fair warning: Some terrible pop music makes an appearance.
2.) My coach came over to me during the HIIT portion, patted me on the shoulder, and said “Wow. You’re tough.” I dont typically care what other people think, but it was still nice to make my coach proud.
3.) Working out with a team is so much fun!
So, that was my week in a nutshell. How about you? Did you stay on track and get closer to your goals? What were your challenges and successes? Keep sending me those accountability emails, you guys have some FANTASTIC goals! And don’t forget, you can always post things in the comment section too– you never know who else might be going through the same thing. Catch y’all next week!
And as always: Remember to breathe.
1.) Mike Doughty – “Madeline and Nine”
2.) Counting Crows – “American Girls”
3.) Owl City – “Hello Seattle”
4.) Hawk Nelson – “Bring Em Out”
5.) DJ Khaled – “All I Do Is Win”
6.) Yellowcard – “Always Summer”
7.) Justin Bieber – “Beauty and a Beat”
8.) Presidents of the USA – “Kick Out the Jams”
9.) Cartel – “Let’s Go”
10.) Alex Goot – “This Kiss”
11.) Jessie J – “Domino”
12.) Third Eye Blind – “Semi Charmed Life”
13.) Something Corporate – “Watch the Sky”
14.) Katy Perry – “Wide Awake”
Hi Guys! I just wanted to quickly post something I’m super excited about: An article I wrote on Vegan Fitness was published in “The Natural Physique” — A fantastic fitness magazine! The article talks all about benefits of veganism, how to get started, and there are two deliciously easy recipes. Plus, the magazine itself has something for everyone. If you get a chance, snag a copy here:
And as always: Remember to Breathe.
Welcome back, friends! I hope you all got a chance to rest up during the holiday season because 2013 is here and it’s Go-Time again! This week is a big one for me as I’m leaving my comfort zone behind and diving (literally) into new territory: The world of triathlons.
Since my training happens to coincide with the new year, I thought it’d be a great opportunity to open up this blog to anyone who would like help staying accountable to their 2013 goals, new year’s resolutions, etc. etc. I actually just read a great article today all about how it’s easier to maintain a change in habit if you align it with your identity. To read it, you can click HERE.
Anyway, if you have a goal but aren’t really sure how to go about it, I can help! Accomplishing something is much easier if you follow what’s called “SMART” criteria (thank you, grad school):
Specific: The goal should be very clear and answer the “W” questions (What do I want to accomplish, why do I want it, Who can help, Where will I do it, etc.)
Measurable: Think about how you are going to measure your progress so you know that you’re on track. For example, if you’re trying to lose 4 pounds in a month, you could have a weekly weigh-in to make sure you’ve lost 1 pound.
Attainable: Is your goal realistic? A good goal is one that challenges you, but isn’t impossible. Losing 100 pounds in a week, for example, is not a realistic goal.
Relevant: Is it worthwhile? Is now the right time? Will this help me achieve other things I care about in the future? If you answered yes, then you’re on the right track.
Time-bound: This is (in my opinion) the most important piece. Give yourself a target date, or a time-frame to achieve your goal in. This keeps you accountable, on track, and helps you plan. Want to run a 5k? Great! Pick a specific one, and give yourself enough time to train for it.
To help me reach my goal, I registered for a specific race and signed up for a triathlon training course. The course is something TOTALLY new for me as I’ve always made my own training plans and rarely work out with groups. I’ll be posting updates every Tuesday about my training challenges, successes, and entertaining anecdotes, and I invite you to do the same in the comment section. If you need motivation, answers to questions, workout ideas, or anything else, I’m here for you!! Or, if you’d prefer to keep it just between us, feel free to email me at email@example.com.
Watch yo’self, 2013; we’re coming for ya!
And as always: Remember to breathe.
Yesterday at around 10 am, I completed my first GORUCK Challenge. Out of all the crazy things I’ve ever done, this was definitely the most unusual. Just in case anyone reading this is gearing up for their own GRC, I’ll post some info on what I did for food and clothing prep along with some Good Livin’ stories.
So the first question of course is: What is GORUCK? It’s a bit hard to explain; Essentially, it’s a 12-ish hour event where you wear a backpack (aka a “ruck”) filled with bricks (4 if you’re under 150 pounds, 6 if you’re over), walk/run/shuffle to various points around a city with a bunch of crazy teammates to complete various goals, carry heavy shit in addition to your ruck, and endure PT drills including but not limited to: pushups, overhead presses, bear crawls, flutter kicks, etc. etc. etc. The GORUCK website sums it up pretty well with this excerpt: “The GORUCK Challenge is a positive extension of GORUCK’s goal to bring people together: miltary/non-military, men/women, young/old. Our Special Operations Cadre teach every class what a team feels like, how to stay cool under stress, and why camaraderie in Special Forces is so high. In our estimation, people are good, and capable of much more when they work together, for each other.” Why did I sign up for this? Because… why not? Life is about testing your limits, rising to challenges, and doing precisely the things that scare you. This seemed like a good way to do that.
Training: My training schedule for this event included a lot of HIIT, pilates, weight lifting, and running, plus 1 ruck run with PT drills each week. For a sample workout, you can take a peek at my HIIT IT post from back in June. I won’t lie to you: I was really, really tired after my half marathon. I’ve been training 7 months non-stop for various things, so I was feeling pretty unenthusiastic about having another 6 weeks of preparation ahead of me — especially for an event with such vague information around it. Not to mention I had a lot of personal stressors (mostly good, but still crazy) arise in the last 2 weeks before the challenge. In the end, though, I’m extremely glad I did it. And strangely enough, I really think that my half marathon prepared me for this better than anything else ever could have because I went into the challenge with mental and physical endurance, in-depth knowledge of how to properly fuel my body, and a positive attitude.
GRC Prep: Since I didn’t really know what to expect, I started increasing my carb and water intake 3 days before the event. If you’re preparing for your own GRC, I recommend putting on a couple of pounds if you can– they’ll be gone after the challenge. In my GR1 I packed: Bricks (I kept them in the inside pocket), a 100 oz. Camelbak bladder, GU, Cliff Bars, 2 pairs of socks, cab fair (just in case), and my ID. Considering that you have to carry whatever you put in your ruck for 12-14 hours, it’s really important to pack light.
For clothes, I wore running sneakers, UnderArmour Cold Gear long-sleeves and tights, a regular UnderArmour tee-shirt, running shorts, Soccer socks, a Nike Dri-Fit hat, Craftsman work gloves, and the top layer of a NorthFace ski jacket. I’m really happy with all of these choices, but we also didn’t get wet until the very end so who knows how I would’ve felt if we went in the water earlier. More on that later.
The Challenge: I was in Maine the night before the challenge, so I started the trip up to Boston on Saturday afternoon. I met up with most of my new teammates for our “Ruckoff” (a meet-up to grab food/beer before the start) around 20:30 feeling anxious and excited. After about an hour, we headed out to the Commons to sign our waivers, and start the evening. All GRCs start with what’s called a “Welcome Party”. Despite the cheery name, it’s a period of time where you do nothing but lots and lots of PT. *Note: Thanks To Amy Parulis and Eric Gove for shadowing us and taking these pics*
Having to hold my 30+ pound ruck straight out in front of me after endless upper body exercises really sucked, and I have to say thank you to 3 years of advanced pilates classes for getting me through the 400-ish flutter kicks we had to do in a row. To be honest, though, I didn’t really think this part of the challenge was too bad. Don’t get me wrong– it was hard, but knowing there were 40 other people going through the same thing made it fun.
I should also mention that you’re not allowed a watch for these things, so I have no idea how long the Welcome Party, or any other portion of the night, actually lasted. After we completed the WP, we split off into two groups, each with our own Cadre to lead us. Challenge Cadre all have Special Operations backgrounds, and my team was led by Cadre Garret. Each challenge consists of a series of missions to complete, usually in a certain timeframe. I don’t think it’d be fair to post details about all of our missions; partially because I think you just have to sign up to see for yourself, but also because every experience is going to be different depending on the people in the class and which Cadre is in charge. But I will share some highlights and low points.
My favorite part of the evening was probably right in the beginning when my team set a super fast pace. I loved running all through the streets of Boston and getting to know some of my teammates. I think the distance runners in the group were probably the only people who actually enjoyed this portion though, because I heard some disgruntled noises coming from people who don’t do a lot of running. But that’s the way teams work– every individual has different strengths and weaknesses, and you’re only as fast as your slowest person.
I have to preface this next highlight by mentioning two things: 1.) Each GORUCK class has the privilege of carrying a giant log at some point during the challenge. 2.) Each class has to carry a 25 pound team weight of their choice. Our team weight was a giant ’80s style boombox loaded with a “Call Me Maybe”/ “Gangnam Style” remix.
Keep in mind that we started at 22:00 (10 pm for those of you who hate math as much as I do), so we were running around Boston at prime drunk time. Few things are more hilarious than being part of 22 person group carrying huge backpacks, a ridiculous log, and a pop music-blasting boombox through drunken city crowds. As you can imagine, we got shouted at a lot. One guy was much more passionate than the rest, assaulting us with profanity for a good 10 minutes. Finally, Cadre Garret had enough and he started chasing the guy. The dude took off running away, and Garret chased him alllllll the way down the street. It was awesome.
There were a lot of cool things in this challenge for me: Running through Boston while the city sleeps, getting to watch the sunrise from Bunker Hill, lying on my back doing flutter kicks in the middle of the street outside a Paul Revere monument, and waking up the city at 9 (?) am with a raucous and strangely on-key rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody. I shut my brain off and kept in good spirits for the entire thing, and I think that more than anything made a difference.
Of course, there were a couple of low points. For each mission, there is a new Team Leader and Assistant Team Leader, helping to ensure that the mission is reached. The mission that I was ATL for was by far the longest and most brutal of the night. There was an awkward piece of concrete that had to be carried a ridiculously long distance, but could only be carried by people of the same height. So, that limited the amount of team members who could actually help. Then, one of our teammates suffered an injury and had to be carried for a while by 3 others. We had a couple of people dealing with leg/ab cramping as well. It was somewhere between 3-6 am at that point, and group morale was pretty down. Even though ATLs aren’t really supposed to carry anything, I ended up taking on a second ruck for a while because I felt so bad for the people who were struggling. My team kicked ass though, and we pulled through.
The only really really bad point for me was the very end when we had to do pushups in the duck pond. If you’ve ever done a Tough Mudder and experienced the Arctic Enema (a dumpster filled with ice water), then you might have an idea of how cold this water was. Having to hang out in plank position, repeatedly dunking your entire head under water to do pushups while mildly hyperventilating is neither easy or pleasant. Luckily we didn’t have to do a lot of them, but my jacket literally turned to ice when we got out. Thankfully, that was toward the end of the challenge. My GRC experience probably would have been less awesome if we’d had to do those earlier on.
In the end, it was a pretty cool experience. I’m really proud of everyone in class 318 for pulling through (only one person quit from our group), and I’m happy I got the chance to do it. I think there are only about 3,500 people in the GORUCK Tough family, so it’s really neat to be a part of something so unique. If you’re even a little bit curious about it, just take the plunge and sign up.
And now, it’s offseason time for this gal. I’m excited to rest up and enjoy the holidays with some easy winter running I hope you’re all having a great November so far!
And as always, Remember to Breathe.
Winter is fast approaching, which means you might be nearing the end of a long training season, or settling into all that summer weight-loss success. You’ve spent months eating, sleeping, and sweating your way to your goals, and now you’ve finally conquered them! Yessssss!!!!
Expending a lot of time and energy being focused on something can make it extremely hard to move forward once it’s over. The idea of feeling sad about finally getting what you want sounds a little silly, but post-goal blues are a very real thing. Extreme highs and lows can have some pretty damaging psychological (and physical!) effects if you’re not prepared for them, but hopefully this post will help provide you with a guide for how to deal with the changes.
Example #1: Imagine you’ve finally reached your goal weight, and now you’re now starting to panic about gaining it all back. Or maybe you’ve been training extremely hard for an event and you don’t want to lose all of your hard work. So you keep restricting your calories, keep going to the gym for rigorous workouts three times a day, keep stressing, etc.
Example #2: On the opposite side of the spectrum, maybe you’ve lost weight or your event is over and you suddenly find yourself completely unmotivated to workout because there’s no more incentive.
The same solution is applicable to both examples. The first (and arguably hardest) thing to understand is that you cannot expect your body to be in peak form year-round. Peak form means being in your absolute best physical, emotional, and mental condition (i.e. where you strive to be on the day of an event). Our bodies naturally fluctuate, and they need recovery time. The person from Example #1 is flirting with disaster. Obsessively dieting or exercising for lengthy periods of time inevitably leads to burnout or injury from overtraining. In some cases, it could even lead to an eating disorder. Mentally burning out can be very hard to come back from because you’ve essentially taken all the fun out of fitness, and forgotten what’s really important. Overtraining is extremely dangerous too because when the body is over stressed, it releases higher amounts of a hormone called Cortisol. This hormone causes muscle tissue to break down. So, excessively stressing out your body by training too much, eating too little, or a combination of both is a recipe for self-destruction. However, there is a difference between taking time to rest, and letting all of your progress disappear.
The key in either case is to understand the need for balance. Start giving some thought to large goals you’d like to accomplish in the next year, and make those goals quantifiable. For example, maybe you’d really like to enter a swimming competition in June, and a cycling race in October. Do some research and pick which specific ones you might actually want to compete in so you have an idea of what your training time frame will need to be. Or maybe you want to lose 5% body fat by May. Large goals like these can help you get past your blues by providing something fresh to look forward to.
Once you’ve established the large goals, it’s time to break them down into smaller ones to help you through the “off” season. Think about what activities will keep you in shape over the next few months, but will give your body a bit of a break. For example: Once my last big event is done this year, I’ll scale back the distance of my runs so they don’t go longer than 4-6 miles. I’ll sign up for a few 5ks to keep me motivated, and I’ll try out some new fitness classes that I haven’t been able to do because of my training schedule (not going to lie, I’m pretty excited to try out kickboxing!). Think about varying the difficulty level of your workouts too… honestly, you should be doing that now anyway. Instead of 6 hard days, maybe do 2 hard, 3 moderate, and take 2 rest days. It’s okay to scale back your training a bit in the off season. The important thing is to just to keep healthy, and stay active in a way that you enjoy. Your body will appreciate the chance to repair itself, and you’ll be able to attack the next training season when it comes around.
And if you’re someone who has lost weight, and you’re just looking to maintain that weight: try to relax! Our bodies like to keep an equilibrium, so you’re not just going to magically put the weight back on unless you revert back to old habits. You’ve already built a healthy foundation for yourself, you’ve already put in the hard work, so just remember what you’ve learned. Play around with your calorie intake until you figure out how much you can eat without gaining. You should still work hard in the gym, but it’s not necessary to overdo it. Find what makes you happy; Stressing out about your weight when thin is just as bad as stressing out about your weight when you’re heavy.
To further help you beat those blues, here’s a recipe for healthy, easy, and deliciously dairy-free ice cream that you can eat guilt-free! You’re welcome
JP’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Veganice Cream
- 1 ripe banana (the riper the better)
- 2 TBS PB2 powder (regular peanut butter will probably work, but I’ve not tried it, and it’ll be higher in calories)
- 1/2 TBS unsweetened cocoa powder
- Splash of unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- (Optional): Berries or chocolate chips for topping
- In a small bowl, cut up the banana into pieces and mash it with a fork
- Stir in PB2, cocoa powder, and milk until combined
- Place the bowl in the freezer for about 30 minutes
- Eat! If not eating right away, make sure to take it out and stir it every 30 minutes so it doesn’t become a solid block.
Are you dealing with post-goal blues? Have you ever had a hard time finding motivation after an event, or struggled to feel satisfied after reaching your goal weight? Please share your experiences in the comment section! You never know who it could help
And as always, Remember to Breathe.
If there’s one thing I learned from training for my Half Marathon, it’s this: Trust yourself and listen to your own body. Everyone is built differently, so what works for one person might not work for another. This is especially true from a nutrition standpoint.
LB, my training buddy from afar, and I were always amazed at how different our nutritional needs were. For example: She only takes sips of water a couple of times throughout her long runs, while I can go through two small water bottles in an hour and 20 mins if it’s hot. She likes to eat a bowl of cream of wheat before a run, while I can only handle half a banana. There are so many people with opinions out there about what you should eat the night before, when you should fuel mid-run, etc. But honestly, it all comes down to YOU. Through trial and error, you’ll figure out what works best for your body. This is true for all areas of fitness and life in general, not just running. Trying to follow what other people do, or comparing yourself to anyone else is a waste of time. You can learn from others, and draw inspiration, but ultimately your journey is your own.
The most challenging part of this entire experience was learning how to overcome mental road blocks. Things were going pretty well with my training, but when the long runs started getting higher in mileage, something changed. I started building up a lot of anxiety until finally, on the morning of my scheduled 10-miler, I crashed into a giant metaphorical brick wall. It was hot, I was sick, and I couldn’t even make it through more than a mile and a half. The panic of thinking “I can’t do this” shattered me. I’m not one to cry too often, but the floodgates opened and I called or texted every athlete I could think of for advice. “How do I get through this? How can I push past this block? Has this ever happened to you?” I asked them all.
I think sometimes it’s important to break down because it’s the only way to really reflect and see things more clearly. I realized that I was putting so much pressure on the race that the simple act of running — an activity that I’d been so desperate for a year and a half to be able to do pain-free — stopped being fun, and instead was just something to “get through”. I took a couple of days to collect myself and get over my illness, and then hit the pavement with a new perspective. I was just going to run for fun and not worry about the distance. It worked, and I ended up being able to cover the distances I needed with a clear mind. Every long run after that was fun, pressure-free, and had me grinning. Keeping calm is what ultimately helped bring back the joy of the sport.
Finally, race day arrived! All of my training runs had clear skies, so of course it was pouring on race day. In fact, it didn’t even really start raining until the race started. I actually really enjoy running in the rain, but I was a little concerned about my ipod getting ruined or having to deal with blisters. It ended up being great, but my shoes were nice and water logged by mile 8. The course itself was really nice because it started out running right along the ocean for a couple of miles, and then it took us all along these side streets where there were a TON of spectators on the sidelines. At different places there was a guy playing bagpipes, a group of drummers, and several clusters of kids who gave me high-fives. There was also this guy:
I’m really fortunate to have such a kickass brother who will stand out in the freezing rain just to wave to me at the halfway point. It was a really nice boost to see him and LB’s sister there, especially since it was right around a fairly challenging part of the course. He snapped this pic of me that makes me laugh because I look like I’ve been photoshopped in:
Somewhere around mile 10.5 I saw another pair of lime green compression sleeves, and immediately got excited because it was LB! We ran the rest of the race together which was really, really special for both of us. Once we hit mile 12, I had two major thoughts going on in my head; The first was something like this: “!!!!!”, and the second was, “Man, it would really suck to trip at this point.” We saw my brother and LB’s sister again at the Mile 13 mark, and from there we sprinted to the finish line.
I’ve never felt a wave of emotion quite like the one I had when I saw the finish line, but it nearly knocked the wind out of me. I think I could have kept running for miles just on pure happiness. While I still can’t believe I actually ran it without stopping and that we finished so far under our goal time, my main hope was to just enjoy the experience, and I really, truly did. So. Much. Fun!
Thank you for reading this story, especially if you made it through Part 1 and Part 2. I hope that it can help you overcome your own obstacles and that you remember to always appreciate the small gifts in your life. There will always be struggles, and they will always be hard, but there is usually a lesson somewhere in them.
Oh, and I don’t know what most people do after half marathons, but we went bowling. LB schooled us all.
And as always, Remember to Breathe.