The “Off-Season” is kind of an inside joke to those of us at NWT. Each of us had a scheduled off-season of about one week, and hopefully everyone made the most of it. The biggest lesson that our Head Coach reiterates throughout the tri season is that consistency is the key to improvement. We are reminded constantly that we need to train at a level that we personally are able to back up . . . day after day . . . week after week . . . year after year. Since that is the main point driven into our heads throughout the race season, it seems a bit counter-intuitive to then take an “off-season”. Though our coach still refers to off-season quite a bit – and most of us laugh at it.
Here at NWT, off-season simply means a brief time to shift your focus a bit. When doing normal swim, bike, and run workouts, intensity and duration are cut back quite a bit. Technique becomes a focus for all three sports as we go back to the basics and work those drills that we haven’t seen in months. Though we are still training daily, this is the time of year to ”mix it up a bit” and throw in something that you may have had to cut out when the training got too intense, or even try something new. Several of our teammates are killing it at CrossFit, while others of us are hitting it hard with yoga. One of my favorite things about off-season is that our group rides turn into mountain bike rides. I love hitting the trails! It’s such a fun alternative to the trainer and there are usually some pretty good stories to follow. Also, MC and I do tons of hiking with the boys since it keeps us active with low intensity, and they love it! We love to explore new fitness activities in which we can include the boys. And since we both thrive on competition, we are quite creative in finding ways to compete when we aren’t racing . . . just ask our boys who got to the top of the rock wall in under 40 seconds!
One really important thing to do during the off-season is to take stock of all your gear and decide if anything needs to be repaired, replaced or upgraded. This is the time to make any major purchases, especially if it’s a new bike or shoes or something you will need time to get used to. It’s also a good time to buy gear because most shops will have end-of-season sales, so you can probably get a pretty good deal. For me, this year it means sending my bike out for a bit of touch up painting. I got a couple of dings this year, and I couldn’t be without a bike until I was done racing. For now, I have my mountain bike as backup or I can always hit the spin bikes at the Y. Continue reading
After completing my first full, it took me a little while to assimilate back into society. I felt really overwhelmed in all aspects of life. I felt like I owed my boys a lot of time, my house was trashed, and I needed to catch up on work. Instantly, my training took the back burner. Of course my body needed some well-deserved recovery time, but I’ve always been more of a fan of “active” recovery. I definitely feel better sooner by moving, not by sitting. But this time, it was tough trying to catch up so many areas at once, especially when I felt exhausted most of the time. So I found myself missing workouts more than making them. At first I kept telling myself, it’s ok… I just did a full. But that excuse started wearing pretty thin after a few weeks and I found myself really slipping off track. I kept telling my coach, “I need to sign up for something”. I said this because I know how I operate . . . if I have an empty race calendar with nothing coming up, it is much easier for other commitments to become more important. But as soon as I have something on the calendar, I’m really committed to my plan and make most of my workouts (unless mommy duties arise.) Goal-oriented race results seem to be what motivates me to remain consistent, so I tend to always have something on the horizon . . . doesn’t matter if it’s a half-iron or a 5k; if I have my registration confirmation, I’m all in! After three weeks of this “hit or miss” training, I received an email from my coach saying, “Pick a Race!”
I purposely didn’t sign up for anything after LP because I wasn’t sure how I’d be feeling; I was concerned about my chronic patella tendonitis. However, I’m happy to say that my knees didn’t bother me at all during IMLP! Totally shocking, I know – I was expecting to be pretty shredded after. But there I was three weeks after, feeling great physically – I think it’s because my pacing for the full distance was so much slower than what I would normally race. So I started checking out which races were still left. There were a couple of local sprints, but I didn’t think my body would respond well to me asking it to go fast. I thought maybe a longer race would be good since I had already built a large endurance base over the past year. I found the Ironman 70.3 Poconos at the end of September and emailed my team to see if anyone was interested. I had a taker, but still didn’t sign up until a week later, when I received an email from my coach saying, “Sign up today.” Funny thing is (though not surprising), that’s all it took to get me back on track! Continue reading
A Healthy Approach
I remember 3 years ago, July of 2009, I was sitting at a park with the kids weighing about 245 pounds. I turned to my wife and said, “I think it’s really about time I do something about my weight.” She said try to start watching what you eat and exercising. I just thought to myself, I’ve tried this several times before without success, so how was I going to figure out the right formula to make this work? I had gained about 75 pounds since high school and honestly was not sure how to lose it. It is very difficult to stay focused with a training plan, especially not having any idea as far as what you are doing. Sure, I know the medical aspect of it. But the down and dirty of truly being fit, I had no clue.
So I started to run, and two months later I was down to 215 pounds, and had entered my first half marathon. It took me almost two and a half hours, and it was tough. At this point I was getting a lot of aches and pains from the constant pounding of running, so I decided to try cross training with swimming and biking. At first I couldn’t even swim 25 yards, and the biking was a lot tougher than it looked. But I tried to simply focus on consistency, while balancing career and family. After three years of consistent training, I have gradually gotten faster and more fit.
This past July, myself and six of my teammates from NWT completed our first full Ironman at Lake Placid. It was an amazing experience for all of us, and was an overwhelming end to where I started three years ago that same month.
In my full time job as a physician assistant in primary care, I take a special interest in treating obesity, and educating patients on diet, exercise, and weight loss. I think a lot of the problem is just lack of knowledge on what being healthy and fit truly means. I even get a good chuckle when I hear people tell me how hard it is for them to lose weight, and that I wouldn’t understand because I’m thin. What they don’t know is all the consistent training that is backed up day in and day out. They also don’t know that I wish I could eat whatever I want, but I can’t. I have to watch every calorie. Continue reading
One thing I have learned about Ironman training so far is that consistency is key. It’s about “backing it up” not only on a daily basis, but backing up those big efforts week-to-week as well. Our weekends have entailed long rides and long runs consistently since last October. Some say you can’t train big when you have kids. Some might even think it’s selfish to try to do so. So what’s my secret to balancing Ironman training with the demanding schedules of three little boys? How do I finagle enough time to get my training in? That’s easy! I simply focus on creating time for my husband to train. I know it sounds crazy, but I’m not kidding! First of all, I know that MC and I are the minority. Of the many married triathletes we know, in most situations only one spouse is involved in the sport, or at least only one races long. The fact that we both are involved and we are both training for a full Ironman means that we both understand the time commitment, and we both “get it”. Luckily, we truly care about the other person getting their training in. When I have a big ride to get in on Saturday, I know that volunteering to get the kids to their games in the morning and helping MC get out the door early, helps me to get on my ride at a reasonable time. We both realize that the more we focus on improving each other’s schedule, the more it comes back around. This takes faith and trust in each other; a true partnership. So this past April we decided to take this “partnership” to a new level. We went on our first (of hopefully many!) Spring Break “Train-cation”. Continue reading
When people talk about being tough, they tend to think about gritting their teeth, sucking it up, pushing through the pain and displaying to themselves and those looking on that they go hard all the time. They do not rest or take it easy; surely this is the result of a strong mind that allows them to push through the pain.
From my viewpoint, this couldn’t be further from the truth, nor is it what makes someone mentally tough. The aforementioned attributes can actually define someone with a weak mind and a lack of confidence. Therefore, they constantly push beyond what is necessary in order to prove to themselves they have what it takes.
Those reading this article likely do not need to be pushed through a session or asked to go hard (though few athletes understand a truly hard effort—but that is another article!)
On the flip side, athletes that are cool and calm, backing up training week after week, never looking to test themselves, are the tougher athletes; hitting the prescribed session no matter how “slow” or “easy” it may be. That is what makes them tough—they cannot even be broken down by their own ego. Continue reading
So I turned 40 last month . . . The big “4-0”! How the heck did that happen?? Seriously!! It seems like I was only 30 just last week. I have always had a problem with the “decade” birthdays – the ones with the big round numbers ending in zero. My college roommate just reminded me of how I cried when I turned 20 because I was so sad to not be a teenager anymore. Well, for the first time since I can remember, I was actually excited for this birthday! I was totally ready to “age-up”, as they call it when you move from one age group to the next. I guess it’s a pretty big deal in the world of triathlon. Anyone on the cusp of an age group will tell you how they would’ve “placed” if they were just 3 months older or 6 months younger. So hooray for me! No more racing “thirty-somethings”! In my mid-20’s, I actually used to lie about my age. I decided that after 25, I would be each age for 5 years. That worked for awhile . . . but I finally realized that I get a much better reaction when I tell my real age. At least I have that going for me!
I’ve made more than my share of mistakes, and learned quite a lot the hard way. Though I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten some things right as well. If I had the chance to do things over, of course I would do things some differently. Who wouldn’t?? I’m sure I could’ve avoided some trouble! But, I love the life that I’m living. I know that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be. I’ve even picked up a few lessons along the way: Continue reading
I started swimming in late summer 2008, because I was a runner with bum knees, and it seemed like good cross training. I first went to tri club in August of that year, and had to be rescued by the lifeguard because I panicked in the open water. I remember telling my husband that I probably wouldn’t actually do a race that first year, that Wednesday night tri club would be enough for me. Then Iron Girl came to town. It was a perfect first race because it was not too intimidating; but despite having a flat tire and throwing up at the finish line, it simply left me wanting more. Triathlon is quite addictive in that way. After each race I always think about how I could have done better, gone faster, gone further. Fast forward 3 years and 13 triathlons . . .