Maintaining a Balanced Life as a Triathlete

As a triathlete, we have many time consuming work outs and a rigorous schedule not only in training but in life. That’s just how we prefer things. In order to have as much of a regular life, job and healthy relationships as possible, there needs to be compromise and balance. Here are my top 5 tips in maintaining a balanced life as a triathlete.

  1. Miss the occasional work out. You do not have to be a slave to your workout schedule. While yes, it is important to be diligent and stay on top of your training schedule, life is going to happen. Sometimes you are going to feel overwhelmed by the amount of training you have and feel like if you do one more swim work out at the pool you are going to start thrashing yourself against the lane line. You are going to miss seeing your family and friends that you never get to see anymore because you are out doing a 90 mile rides every single weekend. And even when you don’t have a work out, your body is so tired it is hard to even drag yourself out. So chill out every once and a while, and go see how the other half lives.

 

  1. Enjoy bad food in moderation. As triathletes, we are obsessed with everything we put in our mouths from the daily breaky, lunch and dinner to what kind of gu you are going to eat to what kind of electrolyte you are going to drink to the supplement you are taking after a workout (chocolate milk, duh). But sometimes, you need to have a donut or a cheeseburger or you will go insane. I have tried to be a vegetarian TWICE now and have failed both times because I just needed a dang cheeseburger. My usual rule of thumb is to have one cheat meal or day a week. You have something to look forward to and can get in those bad calories without feeling guilty.

 

  1. You need to have a significant other who can support your crazy habit. On weekends when you want to roll over and sleep in, you need someone who can poke you and make you get out of bed. When you are getting up for your 3rd consecutive day of doubles in a row and want to pull your hair out, you need someone who can say they bought you those new nutrition bars you wanted to try. Better yet, find someone crazy enough to get up with you and actually go work out along with you. You cannot have someone who wants you to choose them over something you love. A significant other of a triathlete needs to understand your passion and be there to support you on the big day of your race because that’s what matters to you. If you weren’t doing what you love to do, then they wouldn’t love you for who you really are.

 

  1. Relax. Triathletes are so busy running around all the time doing a million different things that it is very important to take some you time. If that means reading a book in the park, going and getting a massage, catching up on netflix or just doing nothing, then do it for you. Often our lives are just like a steamroller constantly moving forward and it’s easy to forget how much you are actually doing and become overly exhausted (this can also lead to injury). Your body needs this time to charge and heal. And sometimes, this is going to take longer than a day off.

 

  1. Remember how to workout for fun. When all you do is swim, bike, and run, repeat, repeat, repeat, sometimes you forget to remember why you are actually doing this or why it is fun. Go take a yoga class, go for a hike, heck ride a bike without a carbon frame that doesn’t have a real brand and just go have some fun. And remember, it’s not a competition.
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Wildflower DNF

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My inspiration for this race.

DNF. Did not finish. There it is in black and white. My first DNF.

It was one of the hardest things ever to throw in the towel and not complete my first race ever. I tried to keep going, and know I could have finished. This race was not worth injuring myself and spending even more time recovering.

Going into the race, there was the possibility of doing an aquabike in the back of my mind (only completing the swim and bike portion of the course). And it sat there and stewed. I was not confident going into this race and had pretty low expectations. This could have all fused together to form the outcome of my performance. But I was determined to try something I was afraid of doing. My inspiration to try really came from Jesse Thomas. He broke his foot at this race last year, and has been going through all kinds of frustrating recovery and not being able to race or even run. My injury is to a much lesser extent than his, so I didn’t want that to deter me from trying. Jesse went on to win Wildflower this year for the fourth consecutive year, which is quite the feat. And also on a foot he hasn’t run more than 8 miles on in the past year. Jesse continues to be an inspiration to me.

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 And Jesse Thomas ended up commenting on my post that I tagged him in! Dream come true!

So here is my race report, just another step in the path to recovery:

Went out with the first group in my swim group. The water was really mucky and muddy. It was like swimming with a shade drawn over your eyes when your face was in the water and even freaked me out as an experienced swimmer. Got pinched out by two girls who were both swimming into me on either side. Felt like I had a relatively good pace. Couldn’t really get the engine revving to an “aggressive” swim as my coach had recommended. Felt like I settled in about halfway though. When I got out was surprised to find it had been a 29 min swim….relatively slow for me. However, I was still 3rd out of the water in my age group. I got the added bonus of a mud beard of all the nasty stuff sticking to my face as well.

Run #1.

For transition to the first run, my gear bag was almost at the very top of the boat ramp we had to run up. Hurt a bit walk/running on the uneven surface. Once I finally got my shoes on I was fine. Started off at what was a relatively conservative pace but felt solid. Started having very painful shin splints almost immediately. I have been getting them on hills for about the past couple weeks while training or just walking around the hills of San Francisco. Realized I might not be able to finish the whole day.

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Transition 1.

Felt pretty disheartened and took my time in transition and went out on the bike.

Bike.

Since I was pretty sure that I would not be finishing out the race, I decided to treat the bike ride as more of training ride rather than a race. This caused me to keep a pretty steady pace throughout the ride and not be as aggressive as a race pace. Started eating 20 mins into ride, and then every 30 mins after that, ~200 cals an hour. Felt very good and consistent energy throughout ride which was a nice surprise. There was a breeze on the bike but was still splashing some water as the temperature rose. Could have pushed my effort slightly harder. Nasty grade was still nasty but not as hard as I remembered. The second big climb was a breeze and I dominated the last few miles of rollers as other people slowed down.

Transition 2.

Felt really good energy coming off the bike and wanted to try running again. So I went for it.

Run #2.

Was fine on the flats but as soon as I hit the first roller, the shin splints came screaming back. Decided it wasn’t worth putting myself through the pain or misery and risking hurting myself for the race. Also, a girl ran past me and said to the people running around me “We’re almost there guys!” Just so you know, 10 miles is not “almost” there. Not even close. As a spectator or even a participant, please, PLEASE, don’t say that to someone racing unless you can literally see the finish and it’s less than 1/4 mile away. I turned around after 1 mile, defeated. It was a walk of shame going back and having people running past me, encouraging me to keep going. This was the hardest part of the entire day.

Think this was a little too much, too soon for the leg. Talked to a chiropractor after the race and he said the shin splints were just beginning so I should run on flat surfaces, ice after running and stretch out my shins/calves for the time being. It’s frustrating not being able to run at where I want to be right now but trying to keep my focus on the long term goal of Ironman Lake Tahoe. The positive things I can take from this race are I finally had a race with solid nutrition and energy on the bike for the first time ever. Also, I felt ready to run when I got off the bike which is really awesome after coming off such an intense bike split. Even with all of the stuff going on with my knees and now my shin splints, it was still a big improvement from last year and I felt so much more confident on the bike. Some races are designed to test our limits, and this is definitely one of them.

So proud of everyone who tested themselves and conquered the beast that is Wildflower! You are all rock stars!!

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Hanging out with some of my favorite TNT ladies before the race. Carolyn, April, Kim, me and Julia.