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Tri, Tri & Tri again!

12 Jun

triathlon

 

I did it! I completed my first sprint triathlon this past Saturday!  It was the Hyannis Sprint Triathlon on Cape Cod.  Everyone has been asking how it went and how I did, so I thought I’d blog a bit more in detail and share with you what the experience was like for me.

It was, in one word, HUMBLING.

I had been training for this tri for a few months now with my team [Lauren– friend/swim coach extraordinaire/motivational speaker, Jen– girlfriend/well-accomplished triathlete/teacher of the transition, Paige– friend/best spin instructor ever/firecracker] but still didn’t feel fully confident or comfortable since a triathlon was something entirely new and VERY different than any race I’d done before.  It was because of these three wonderful teammates that I arrived that day with all of my gear set up appropriately, an idea of how I’d transition from one event to the next, a mind (somewhat) focused and ready, and a belief that I would finish strong.

After setting up our transition stations and putting on our wetsuits, swim caps & goggles, we made our way to the beach to await the start.  Waist-deep we waited, and when the horn sounded we were off.  And I freaked.  Swimming in a bathing suit in a pool that has lap lanes is NOT the same as swimming in the ocean in a wet suit as part of a free-for-all.  All the technique and form that I’d spent so much time practicing went up in smoke.  I wasn’t even putting my face in the water; my arms were flailing and I could see that I was using my energy in the LEAST efficient way possible.  My immediate goal became getting back to the beach without a water rescue!  The 1/4 mile swim was arguably one of, if not the most, mentally and physically challenging things I have ever done.  In that 9:44, I had more moments of truly thinking “I can’t do this. I’m never going to make it” than I have had in all my athletic/fitness/racing endeavours, COMBINED.  For me, it felt brutal.  I worked my mental muscle HARD, and when I finally got myself out of that water, it felt like a new sort of victory.

I made my way to my transition station, re-focused, and promised myself that the worst was over.  I got into my bike gear and tore up the road.  I felt so great on the 10 mile bike ride.  I rode fast & hard, in an effort to make up for my sluggish swim.  I felt that I had earned my right to be on the bike and on the road after fighting my way through the swim.  I had an entirely renewed energy because I had fought back all my negative thoughts and forced myself to the finish of the swim.  After completing the bike ride, I transitioned once again and got myself ready for the final leg: the run.  The run is “my jam”; I’m a runner and its my strong suit.   But, MAN, running 3.5 miles AFTER swimming and biking is a whole new story!  My legs felt like bricks for the first mile but I kept going, one foot in front of the other, eyes on the person in front of me.  I was able to get myself into a good pace and ran the remaining 2.5 miles with a hunger inside that was CRAVING the finish.  I noticed that people nearly twice my age were passing me.  Men and women ages 40, 45, and 50 were putting one very fit foot in front of another at a faster pace than I, and I was truly humbled.  I consider myself to be a pretty fit person, and in these moments I felt mediocre and ordinary.  It made me realize that unlike all my previous road races where I’d hope to achieve a certain time or place in my age bracket, in this race the finish line was the victory I was after.

For most of my run (which was without music… a HUGE change for me), a mantra kept playing through my head.  “You are tired. You fought your heart out in the swim. You biked as hard as your legs would let you for 10 miles.  You are exhausted, and you still have to complete this run.  You want to stop, you want to give up. You want to say: this is good enough.  But there’s a little voice inside that says Not Yet.  Don’t Stop Yet.  Not Yet. Not Yet.”  With every foot fall, I repeated it to myself: “Not Yet, Michelle, Not Yet.” I kept going all the way into and through the finish with this loop on repeat in my head.

When I crossed the line and realized that I was DONE, a wave of emotion came over me that I’ve never experienced before.  It was a different kind of victory; a victory I felt that I truly earned more than any before it.  I felt filled with gratitude for my teammates who taught/prepped/motivated/inspired/hugged/coached me through.  I felt overwhelmed with the whole experience.  After I had some time to let it all sink in, reflect and process, I realized that all the anxiety and nervousness I’d had before my first tri was GONE! The apprehension and fear of the unknown was no longer occupying my head.  Instead I now had knowledge of what the event entails, the energy of race day, the transitions, the water, the road.  I also was given an idea of where I need to focus my training from here on out.  My next triathlon is in 3 short weeks.  And my training continues to build all summer until The Big CHEESE in September: The Lobsterman Triathlon…. an Olympic distance doozy!  I CAN NOT WAIT!!!!!!

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Good or BEST?

11 May

 

I read a quote this morning by Steven Covey [you know- the author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People] and the last line of it REALLY REALLY struck me.  Here’s the quote:

“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically – to say ‘no’ to other things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside. The enemy of the ‘best’ is often the ‘good.’

 I read the last line over and over: The enemy of the “best” is often the “good.”  and realized how absolutely true it is.  I can’t tell you how many times I have encountered people who are satisfied with being just “good.”  They have come to terms with the (false) belief that they can’t feel their “best”, so they convince themselves that settling for the “good” is okay.  This kind of defeatist attitude is more prevalent than you’d first guess.  Take a minute and think about how many people you encounter that respond to the question “How are you today” with “I’m excellent” or “I feel fabulous” or even “Best I’ve felt in years” 9 times out of 10.  Not many!!!!  Okay, okay it might be a bit cheesy to respond like that but you know what I mean.  Most people have an automatic hum-drum response that indicates they aren’t great but that “good enough” will do.

WAY too many people are okay with being less than their best. WAY too many people are okay with just getting by and being good enough.  WAY too many people are letting days slip by that they will never get back and will never have a chance to re-live.  WAY too many people will go through their entire lifetime in a dysthymic [that’s the clinician in me coming out!] state; never experiencing the full sense of being happy.

  This is really scary to me because if YOU don’t believe that you can be your best, how can you expect anyone else to truly believe it?! I’m not saying you need to wake up every day and have your BEST workout or get a PR.  You don’t need to eat absolutely 100% clean each and every single day.  You definitely do not need to go through life mistake and worry free.  $h!t happens, I sure know that; we are all human and nobody can be their BEST every day.  But we all have to try & reach to FEEL our best every day when we get out of bed.  Waking up and starting anew with a positive mental attitude is what separates the champions from the people who never see the play-offs.  Having the skill to do something is half the battle, but having the focus, drive & mental determination  is what makes goals happen.  Believing that you CAN achieve what you want is going to keep you in the game long after your body thinks its time to give up.

Have you been settling for being “good”?? Or are you someone who is after being the BEST you can be every day??  As we say here at Lucky13Fitness: To BE your best, you gotta BRING your best!!!

Have an AWESOME Friday, everyone!!!!!!

The 4 P’s

1 May

Sometimes it’s hard to juggle all the things life throws our way; work, school, relationships, family, friends, extracurricular commitments, volunteering, eating well, exercise, training for an event, and SLEEP! It can be overwhelming and frustrating. 

I’ve been feeling a bit this way lately and it sure puts a damper on my mood.  Just as my family and friends predicted, working a full-time job, trying to open a personal training studio and training for a triathlon simultaneously has been an ENORMOUS challenge.  Lately, it seems that there’s just not enough hours in the day to get the items on my “To Do” list done.  And the list just keeps growing!  If I feel on top of things in one area, it is almost always at the expense of something else.  So, when I examine the greater picture I’m almost always disappointed with myself and what I didn’t get done.  This is a recipe for a downward spiral disaster.

Today, I decided that I’d had enough feeling badly for myself and that, come hell or high water, I was going to pull myself OUT of this mental funk I’d gotten into.  I reminded myself of  The 4 P’s and tried to put them into action.  Taking a moment to think about The 4 P’s has helped me in times of high stress before, and this morning it didn’t fail!  I thought I’d share:

The 4 P’s

Prepare:  This is a huge theme in my life.  Preparing food for the week, packing it in Tupperware ahead of time and having it set to go is something that saves me 20-30 minutes a day.  Preparing my work/gym/overnight bag(s) the night before also helps me too.  I often need to bring several changes of clothes and need outfits for biking, running, swim, etc so packing it all the night before decreases my chances of forgetting something!

Plan: This goes hand in hand with preparation.  Having a plan or structure to each day/week/month can help give an idea of how best to maximize time.  When I open my planner and see each client, workout, appointment, social engagement, etc blocked off, it helps me to see the “holes” and where I could fit things in.  “Seeing” a random half hour block between two clients reminds me that I can use that time for emails, blogging, or making sure to eat lunch!

Practice: Something I’ve learned lately is that it takes a LOT of practice to get used to a new schedule, setup or habit.  Juggling a full-time job, opening my Lucky13Fitness studio & training for my triathlon requires exquisite time management and self-discipline.  I haven’t been perfect but am learning that with time and practice, I’m getting better at prioritizing what’s most important and what can wait until the next day or week. 

*This last one has been super important to me the past few days*

Patience: They say patience is a virtue, and I’m starting to realize that statement is true!!!  Even after all the preparation, planning and practice in the world, sometimes things don’t go EXACTLY as I’d like.  I have to adjust to fit unexpected bumps in the road.  I’ve had to remind myself a LOT lately that this is part of triathlon training, part of opening a new business, and part of life.  There’s always the X-factor of the unexpected and unplanned and I can’t let it throw off my whole groove.  I’m practicing my patience by reminding myself that my schedule will change soon and that I’ll have more time for the things I need to accomplish.  Until then, I just gotta do the best I can with the time I’m given!

I hope The 4 P’s help you get through a stressful moment!  Life isn’t perfect, and as they say: Take It One Day At A Time!

I’m giving it a “Tri”

26 Apr

swim bike run

Last year I conquered the Smuttynose Half Marathon.  Training for that 13.1 mile race was one of the best experiences of my life.  It taught me so much about myself, my strength (both physical and mental), my body & my ability to persevere.  I sacrificed a lot in order to complete my training, I sustained and overcame injury & just kept putting one foot in front of the other every day of my training program.  The big day came and I ate that race for LUNCH!!! I am proud to say that I KILLED IT.

As I do every year in early January, this year I planned out my goals for 2012.  I was torn between running a full marathon and doing a triathlon.  After a LOT of back and forth, I ultimately decided to change it up a bit.  I registered for the Lobsterman Triathlon in Maine on September 15, 2012.  This is an Olympic distance triathlon [Swim 1.5K (.93 miles), Bike 40K (24.7 Miles), Run 10K (6.2 miles)] and is like NOTHING else I’ve ever done!  People have been asking me WHY in the world I’d register myself for an Olympic distance triathlon without ever having done one before, and these have been my reasons:

1) I know I can run a marathon…I am a runner, running comes easy to me and I enjoy running.  I know that I could do 26.2 with the proper training.  I also know that I would probably exacerbate the injuries I sustained while training for my half marathon by the sheer volume of running required for the race.

2) I grew up around a pool [and can do a MEAN cannonball] but have no proper swimming technique or form.  I want the challenge of learning a new sport and skill while incorporating it into my training program.

3) The cross-training will be much more beneficial in the long run for my body [I have tendonitis in my left ankle and a partially torn meniscus in my right knee].  A training program that includes biking and swimming in addition to running is a well-rounded approach that will help my body.

4) Though I’m registered individually, I am doing my training with a group of friends and it makes us a “team” of sorts.  I miss being part of a team, and my Tri Team motivates me, holds me accountable, and makes it SO much more fun.

5) I like challenges.  Even more, I like BIG challenges.  And an Olympic distance triathlon is just that!!!

There you have it.  I’m registered for the September event and have already registered for 3 sprint triathlons over the summer to help prep! Sprint triathlon training has just started and I am looking forward to a fun summer with my team!  I will be blogging along the way- sharing stories, successes, setbacks, silliness, photos, frustrations, accomplishments, etc.  I would love to hear stories or tips from anyone who has done a triathlon, or anyone who is currently in training!

Please leave questions and comments below!!