January 26, 2012

Panic Attacks

I printed an article from the Washington Post back in November, titled "Death in triathlons may not be so mysterious; panic attacks may be to blame," and have been carrying it around since, but just finally read it today (my inability to get things done is a whole other post...). Most of you likely read it, but it struck a cord so deeply within me that I still wanted to talk about it.

When I started this sport in 2008, I had never swam a lap or taken a swim lesson in my 33 years of life. And it terrified me. I wasn't afraid of water, and in fact loved playing in the ocean and being in pools. But that's a far cry from donning a wetsuit and swimming in the Hudson River with a few hundred friends, which is what I was signed up to do about two months from my first swim lesson. I worked so hard to be prepared and felt I had nailed it, but at my first race, a small local sprint I signed up for last-minute as a practice, I panicked on the swim and ended up backstroking the entire thing. I was ok in the warm-up, and ok treading at the start, but when the gun went off I couldn't breathe, I felt like the air had been pulled from my lungs. I spent the entire .25 miles swim flipping back-and-forth onto my back. I was never more relieved to see land.

I know I was not alone in that reaction and this article shows the issue is perhaps bigger than we thought, particularly as the sport gains popularity. It's a reminder that we compete in a sport with risks that require a real dedication to preparation.

I joke a lot about not training for my Ironman swims, but I'm referring to my lack of commitment to improving my times. I don't log enough volume to improve, but I do enough training to be able to safely and comfortably complete the swim. I may be in the lower tier of my age group but I'm fine with that. But I would never advocate doing a triathlon with inadequate swim training. My sister competed in her first triathlon last season and I was right there with her. I remember looking over at the start as I was nearing the end of my swim and seeing her wave start. Suddenly I was worried and I spent the entire bike scanning the sea of women on bikes looking for her. Turns out she rocked the swim because she worked hard and prepared, but my irrational worry goes to show just how important it is to be ready.

Sometimes I don't feel like that same person who got into the pool on a rainy day that May and started this journey. But I'm so glad I did it, and I'm saddened for the families of last year's victims. As advocates of this sport, we can help new athletes prepare and hopefully make it safer for everyone.

January 25, 2012

Another Reason to Stay Active

If you're reading this you're most likely active in some way or hoping to be. There are many different things that compel us to be active, but something most of us have in common is that we love it. Sure, we also love to complain about it at times and certainly don't always feel like doing it, but something keeps us going.

As if we don't already have enough reasons to stay active, my coach shared this incredible study showing the difference between the quadriceps of a 70-year old triathlete and a 74-year old sedentary man.

Which leg do you want to have at 70?

January 22, 2012

Apps for Goals

I recently posted my 2012 goals, most of which rely on my own accountability for progress, but I've also found a couple iPhone apps to be incredibly helpful and wanted to share.

My "Less Sugar Better Eating" Goal + My "Drink More Water Goal"

I've been using the Livestrong app for about a year now to learn portion sizes, understand the calories I take in vs. expend through training, and make better choices. The database is extensive so it's easy to find most of the foods you eat. A recent update added the ability to track water consumed as well, so it's now supporting two of my goals.

An added bonus is a progress tracker that charts weight gain and loss. This is what January has looked like for me so far, a 7.2 pound overall loss.

My "Sleep More" Goal

I love sleep, possibly more than anything else in life. When I'm not getting it I feel horrible overall, so the push to sleep more consistently has been a good one, albeit challenging. I started using the Sleep Cycle app this week, which is a unique alarm app that wakes you when you're most prepared to wake up vs. at a specific time. You sleep with the phone in your bed and it detects movement, thus knowing when you are in a deep sleep cycle. It will wake you in a 30-minute window of your set time, so if you set the alarm for 7am, but have been stirring a bit at 6:30, it may start waking you gradually earlier. It also charts your sleep and shows an average over time. I'm a data geek so I just love this.

Now if only I could find an app that makes me love trainer rides and swimming. I'll have to call Apple and request that.

Do you have tricks or tools to help keep you on track?
What are your favorite training and fitness apps?

January 17, 2012

Starting From Nothing

Even though I'm no stranger to injuries and setbacks I remain amazed by the feeling of starting over and fighting your way back to the fitness you once had. My last significant athletic achievement was covering 140.6 miles at Ironman Wisconsin, yet four months later I can't compete in a 5K. Despite the frustration that comes with injury, the little victories in the comeback become incredibly rewarding milestones. Tonight I managed to run 4.02 miles in 40 minutes and was nearly reduced to tears of joy. A run like this was a warm-up a few months ago, but today it was a huge accomplishment. I would prefer to do without the pain, disappointment and frustration of injuries but I'm also thankful for the fresh perspective. I think in the end it will make me more forgiving of my body, my limitations and my potential.

Week two wrapped up on Sunday and I'm pleased with the progress. I had two minor issues - a very late night at work forcing a missed bike test and a strange, sharp bicep pain forcing a short swimming hiatus (oh darn...). Here are the numbers:
  • Swim - 3,500 yards, 1:30:00 (2 workouts)
  • Bike - 50.08 miles, 3:15:00 (3 workouts)
  • Run - 9.97 miles, 1:40:00 (3 workouts)
  • Strength - 30:00 (1 workout)
This week has its own challenges, but to quote Jordan Rapp,"Adversity is one of those things that truly implants a memory in our brain... You do an Ironman because you want to reach the stars. And you want to do it the hard way. Because that is what makes it special."

January 15, 2012

Culinary Genius

One of my favorite parts of training less is actually having time to cook. My kitchen resembles the galley in first class, yet I've managed to make some magic in there over the years. Last weekend we had a friend over for Sunday night dinner and I did my signature roasted chicken with assorted roasted root vegetables.

As I gathered up the bones and leftovers it occurred to me I've never made my own stock before. So I loaded the carcass into a pot along with tons of chopped vegetables and herbs and nine hours later I had the richest, most incredibly flavored chicken stock I have ever tasted.

Only my planning was a bit off so I had to wake up at 3am to strain the broth and freeze it before waking up at 6am to swim. I was a little tired that day.

Last night I made a butternut squash soup with ginger and coconut milk. It was truly unbelievable and thankfully made enough to feed an army. I have some stashed in the freezer for a rainy day.

Then today I made vegetable stock since I have tons of vegetables on hand and seem to be inspired. It only has to simmer for an hour so it's less work than an animal-based stock, but still quite delicious. I now have 10 cups of stock in the freezer. Time to make some soup.

On the training front, all is going well and steadily improving. I've only suffered one small setback - shoulder soreness from my return to swimming. Unfortunately the pain was so acute I could barely lift my arm so I'm taking a week off from the pool to let the inflammation die down. Oh darn, we all know how much I love to swim.

I've also been doing my strength work consistently and have to admit, the soreness is pretty humbling. I may be able to propel my body 140.6 miles in a day, but I barely have the muscle power to lift my cat. I know the merits of strength training are widely debated amongst triathletes, but for me personally I feel I need more of it.

January 9, 2012

Week One: Not a Bad Start

Sunday wrapped up my first week of training for the 2012 season and overall, it was a decent start. Here's what I accomplished:
  • Swim - 3,400 yards, 1:20:00 (2 workouts)
  • Bike - 52.59 miles, 3:27:45 (2 rides, 1 short trainer session)
  • Run - 8.34 miles, 1:31:00 (3 baby-steps workouts)
I skipped strength training since I was doing a juice cleanse and had only so much energy, but otherwise stuck to the schedule and didn't play my usual game of shuffling things around to suit my mood or how many times I hit the snooze button. It doesn't look like much, but I've learned the hard way that nothing good comes of going from zero to hero so I'll be patient.

*TMI Warning*

I'm only sharing this because (A) It's an issue almost all cyclists/triathletes face, and (B) It can seriously ruin your training...

This week I also conquered something that has plagued me for over a year - the dreaded saddle sore. I battled it the entire 2011 season and it was in fact a carryover from the 2010 season that had subsided briefly during the offseason. But when this offseason came and I still had it with little-to-no biking, I finally sought medical treatment. A culture revealed a strep infection resistant to topical antibiotics so I was prescribed a hefty, three-week course of oral antibiotics. After two weeks it is finally gone. I pray it never comes back. If you're struggling with a saddle sore and typical treatments aren't helping, see a doctor. I wish I had a year ago.

*TMI over, carry on*

January 7, 2012

New Season, New Goals

I don't make resolutions. Resolutions are born from excess holiday gluttony and unrealistic hope that this year will finally be THE year you lose that 20 pounds, get washboard abs or ride your bicycle across the country in record time. But all too often, these lofty dreams are dead by March and it's just another year like the last one.

However, I do set new goals for each new training season, and my 2012 season just happened to begin on January 3. I had to be somewhat conservative with performance goals given my history of chronic plantar fasciitis and the latest setback post-Ironman, but have many areas to improve regarding general health and training efficiency. To make myself more accountable, here are my 2012 goals:
  1. Cut the Sugar. Sugar is my diet nemesis and leads to all manner of unhealthy eating and generally makes me feel awful. I'm going to aim for the 90/10 rule and try to avoid it as much and as often as possible. I've done this before successfully so I know how to do it. I just have to do it.
  2. Drink More Water. Somehow my laziness has trickled over to my approach to hydration and I'm always at a deficit. Want to feel and look better almost instantly? Drink more water. Easy enough, right?
  3. Reduce Coffee Intake. I cried a little as I wrote this, but the four-coffees-a-day habit I acquired after my month of European travel left me feeling pretty toxic. I'd like to have no more than two per day, that seems reasonable.
  4. Actually Swim When I Swim. I swim like a rock when solo in the lane, but when forced to circle, I can suddenly move through the water. I'm lazy, I know it, but if I'm going to drag myself to the pool I'd like to actually get something out of it so I vow to put real effort into my swim workouts this season (which is a notch up from not even doing my swim workouts last season).
  5. Train With Purpose. I tend to slip into auto-pilot during bike and run workouts as well so my goal is to maximize every minute I spend training. No more mindless trainer spinning while watching back-to-back episodes of Pawn Stars. I'm busy and can barely find the time to train so I want to make it count.
  6. Sleep. This is the hardest goal and I hesitate to set it, but I know I can't recover and be my best without more sleep. I'm trying to figure out how to be more efficient with my time so I can sleep at least seven hours a night... for now. When the 4am wake-ups start it will be difficult.
I've already made some progress. I didn't blow off either swim workout this week and actually put effort into it and I just finished my annual New Year's cleanse, which should have me weaned off sugar and caffeine for awhile.

Do you make resolutions or set goals? What are yours for this year?

In closing I leave you with this incredible guide to navigating the gym, written especially for the resolutionists. Here's to a great 2012 season!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...