Friday, November 30, 2012

Knowing when to train - and when not to

One of the things I find the most challenging about triathlon training is knowing when not to.  That little niggle in your knee: is it something you should take total rest for, go easy, or stick to the plan?  The tickle in your throat?  Sniffles?  Pain in the foot?

The answer is different for everybody.  Then if you have taken time off, how do you get back at it?  Do you try to make up your missed workouts or do you just let them drop?  Do you need to adjust your plan going forward, depending on what you missed?

Most of this week, I've felt off.  Not horrible, but more tired then usual and I've had the sniffles.  Having said that, it's been the kind of "sick" that training through actual seems to help.  As in, I feel better after then I did before.

Until today.  Actually last night.  As I was working yesterday evening, I just felt progressively worse.  Fortunately, the last couple hours are not busy and I could spend the majority of the time sitting down.  Because I needed to.  Then this morning, I knew things weren't good.  I slept in, due to alarm clock malfunction, but I'm still exhausted.  Managed to get the kids to school anyways.  Came home and contemplated my bike.

Then laid down in bed.

Sometimes you need to suck it up and train anyways.  Today is not one of those times.

So, make it up or move on?  I think it depends on how this hits me.  I'm hoping this is one of those things that just slams me for a day and moves on.  Not liking that it's a bike day it hit, given that my bike has been the most neglected this fall.  But, now I have a coach.  So, I'm going to let her decide.

I still remember the first time I missed a run.  It was a bit more then 2 years ago, 3 months after I started running.  It was because I was sick, and I felt like missing one run was the end of the world.  That it would destroy what I had started building for myself.  I was still in that early stage where, as much as I wanted it, I was afraid of the quitter in myself.  That's not who I am anymore.

Perspective is key here.  It's November.  Whatever happens right now, and even if I miss a bit of training, it's going to have minimal or no affect on my performance in July.  I'm not skipping out on it because I'm trying to avoid it, but because my body just isn't up to it.

Life happens, and it's not the first workout I've missed - not by a long shot.  I actually think it's better that way.  I think there's a danger in being so dedicated/obsessed that you won't sacrifice a workout for anything.  Life happens, so does injury, illness, and family.  You have to be able to recognize when something else takes priority over your training.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Self medication

I know all about self medicating.  I don't make it a secret that I have a history of depression.  At one point, I spent almost a year on pharmaceuticals in treatment of it.  Having said that, I spent many more years, both before and after self medicating.

Most of my life, my medication of choice was food.  Ice cream, cookies, pastries.  Cake, chocolate bars, muffins...  Sugar, carbohydrates, refined goodness.

Anybody that tells you that eating these foods doesn't make you feel better is full of it.  It does make you feel better, and that is exactly why people do it.  Temporary escape, numbing, bliss...

But, the side effects of this medication can be extreme.  I paid for it with obesity, high blood pressure, health issues.  The side effects had side effects: joint issues, sciatica, bursitis, low self esteem...

Today was one of those days.  A day to make me lose it.  A call from the principal, disappearing winter clothes, 5 year old temper tantrum, 5 year old temper tantrum, 4 year old temper tantrum, 5 year old temper tantrum...  One of those days when I know a pint of hagen daaz would bring pure oblivion.

I almost reacted by giving one of those punishments that punish me too, by not allowing Spud to go to the afternoon lil' chefs class, a time period in which I planned to get my run.  Fortunately I saved myself, restricted tv instead, and gave both children to somebody else for a while.

And I went home and self medicated.

I nailed a good hard run with hill repeats.

Because I am not this girl anymore.

I am this one.

There's a heck of a lot less negative side effects to this type of self medication.

Monday, November 12, 2012

I've gotten soft

I used to be tough.  My first winter running, I would run in any weather.  I sucked it up, went outside and got it done.  The idea of running on a treadmill was totally unappealing.  Running on a track, I could do, but would rather avoid all those circles.  I had yak trax, so even slippery surfaces didn't slow me down much.  (You still have to step carefully, but they really did help when it was slippery.  Too bad they broke!)

Those are little globules of ice on my eyelashes.
I remember one run where Jen and I used vaseline on any exposed skin to prevent frost bite.  According to my blog post at the time, it was -31c (-24f).  We ran 18 km (11.2mi) that day.

Then last winter, I got a treadmill.  My yak trax hadn't even finished out my first season and another grip aid I tried also broke after two runs.  I wanted the treadmill for when it was slippery out.  It was also for when I'm on my own with the kids and need to squeeze a run in.

Then a few weeks ago, I started a job at a sports complex, which gives me free and convenient access to a track.

And, when the mercury drops, I find I just don't have it in me to go outside...

This weekend, Keith had invited a bunch of us over for a run and bison burgers.  It would have been him, Sophia, Leana, and myself.  And, the temperature dropped to -24c (-11f).  Leana was the first to bail, but I followed shortly after.  Sophia and Keith are the tough ones.  They still ran outside.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Back On Bella

As mentioned in my last post, Bella, my bike has been languishing in a closet for months now.  Yesterday, I pulled her out, cleaned her up a bit and changed her tire.  It was all in preparation for today, when I was going to get back on my bike and get my butt kicked in a spin class.

A spin class that didn't happen.

Because we live in Alberta, and we pretty much all had to drive on a highway to get there, and we just got a dump of snow.  Safety was considered, and it wasn't happening.

Sometimes when there's nobody present to kick your butt, you have to do it for yourself.

Angie had emailed the workout earlier this week, and when it was concluded that the roads were overly treacherous, left instructions for all of us to get on on our bikes.

So, I did.

I had already made arrangements for my son to be picked up at school, giving me a bit of extra time, and there was no reason to relinquish that time, and even less reason to squander it.

I set up the bike, trainer and fan.  I blasted some eighties music, and followed the workout.
My husband was working from home today, due to the roads, so was available as a photographer.  Look at my legs!  Moving faster then the speed of light!
It was intense, and I loved it.  It's actually the first time I've done real interval work on my trainer, at home on my own.  I've done them in class, but at home, I usually just mindlessly spin with a slightly elevated heart rate.

Would I have pushed harder in a class?  Likely.  But, it was still a damn good workout, and for the first time back on my bike, I'm pleased to have gotten through it.  I had some technical difficulties, like my cadence sensor crapping out on me (if I'd ridden my bike again after my race, I'd have remembered it did it on me then, and I needed to fix it.)  Some derailleur/chain issues that I'm going to have to deal with.  But, it's all attitude.  That spin was going to happen.  And at least this time, it was going to happen while the kids were gone.

Now, my muscles will whine at me for the next couple days in protest, but they're just going to have to suck it up.  No more neglecting Bella.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

No more floundering!

I won't say I fell off the wagon.  I never stopped running.  I took a break from swimming, but have been back at it for a solid month and a half.  My bike?  Oh, poor neglected Bella.  Yes, she has been locked in a closet since I did my last race... three months ago.

I never let go of my goals, but I did let go of my focus.  There was travelling for the rest of the summer and then some real life commitments I had to deal with.  Then some excuses and a bit of laziness.  I ran when I felt like it, swam when I wanted to.  Nothing too intense.  Just because.  In my opinion, a great strategy following a big race - just not for three months.

But, upon getting all that out of my system, I took a look at everything and considered where I want to go.

I want to figure out just how much potential I have.

At one time, I self identified myself as a "slow runner".  I was never going to race to compete, only complete.  Doing a sub-60 10k was something I saw as the holy grail of running, at least for me.  I figured if I could reach that goal, I'd be forever happy with my speed.

The day I started seeing more was about a year ago, when I shattered that 60 minute barrier, running a 10K in 56:33.  Then I bested my first half marathon time by 30 minutes.  There was finishing that 5K as the fourth female.

And the thing is, I feel like I still have more.  Much more.

I've now invested in myself in a way that 2 years ago, I didn't think I was worthy of.  (As a note, I always recognized the worth of a coach, just not my worthiness of one.) Along with my new job came the financial freedom to do so.  I've hired a coach.

Not just any coach.  Angie, whom I've been working with in group classes for nearly two years now.  She's already guided me towards numerous "aha" moments and breakthroughs before I was even one of her coached athletes.

Today, she emailed me my program.  Nothing surprised me.  There wasn't even anything to scare me - much.  Overall, more focus and balance.  For the swim and run, I feel like the main adjustment will be some intensity on the run, and a more specific focus on the swim.  Although I did see some hill repeats sneaking in a few weeks in.  Hills are my training partner, right?

But then, there is spin class on Friday, which will be the first time I get on my bike (I don't think a couple rides on my hybrid at the pace of a 5 year old count).  Her words in my plan are: "this is going to be a shock to your system".

I think that might be coach speak for: "you might die".