Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New Strides, Old Shoes, Big Dreams

Sports Psychologist/Advisor
Last Thursday I had the opportunity to listen to a sport psychologist consultant speak at a local PT office, Sport and Spinal.  His focus was "the psychology of injury" and most of the attendee's were actually patient's with chronic pain.  I took a few classes on sports psychology during undergrad as well as took advantage and utilized the free sport psychology consultation's provided by the Grad Students in the Sports Psych program.  It was a weekly constant that helped me get through 4 years of college soccer and all the fun that comes with it - teammates, victory, defeat, starting, not starting, injury, fitness, weight room weigh ins, realization of having to go pro in something other than your sport...etc.

Recently I've been somewhat plateauing in my workouts or only slight increases even though I feel like I am capable of so much more.  A simply statement was made on Thursday but it really hit home to me, "Why would you ever expect a hard workout to feel easy?"  I thought about it and I thought about what I had been putting into my workouts recently.  They've been comfortable, they've gone well but haven't been improving the past few weeks like they were at first.  I thought to myself - why would I think my speed workout or my long run should feel comfortable and easy if I am striving for new goals?  Hence a new theme for new strides - pushing myself past that which is comfortable and being better tomorrow than I was today.

How do you motivate yourself to improve upon your daily/weekly training sessions and not fall into a comfortable training zone?

When I first started PT school people would assume I wanted to work with athletes in the sports field of PT and without hesitation I would say, "Actually, No, I want to work with prosthetics or pediatric oncology, both if possible."  Well after a few classes, a few conferences and 1 phone interview with Children's National Medical Center my heart may be realigning with my passion of the past 24 years and relacing the same old shoes - sports.  I will try other settings and learn from them and maybe I'll find something new I love.  Every question about why I want to go into something relates back to sports - and the best thing is that kids and amputee's participate in sports!

Have you found your dream career or are you still searching?  Did you start out in it or work your way there?

Above my door back home is a handmade sign (by yours truly) circa 1999 that says "DREAM BIG".  I hung it there after the 1999 Women's World Cup and was dreaming of playing college soccer and winning a World Cup.  Dream Big carries over to every facet of life though - school, career, athletics, relationships.  As I ponder where I will be in just 18 months from now and taking my first PT job - I dream of the setting and dream of the private practice I want to open in 8-10 years.  Yes, during all this dreaming I have made a vague  overview of services, ideal clinic setup, location, company name and logo.  I have even considered current friends pursuing their educational and career goals as well as being partners, they don't know it, yet.

Dream Big still applies to my athletic endeavors.  This year will be the year of the 1/2 marathon, 1/2 IronMan, and Marathon. 3 new distances, 3 PR's, and 3 opportunities to get stronger and evaluate myself compared to other age-group triathletes and figure out how long it will take me to get to Kona :)

Are you tackling and new distances this year?

Friday, February 18, 2011

R&R is HaRd

It has always been so easy for me to tell others to take a day off or to take a day of active rest.  But to tell myself that it's ok to rest, not a chance!  Ever since college, on my "off day" I would go easy by just running 10 120's or doing the 300m shuttle run test.  Not quite an off day but a much shorter day than any other spent getting fit.  Now my off day's are either spent playing 80 minutes of soccer or doing a "light" 5.5 mile run - through the National Zoo ( basically a hill workout).

I must admit I've been getting better at scheduling in and allowing the R&R to happen in my training schedule.  I saw the benefits a few years ago during summer workouts in college and have been mimicking the same idea of building and peaking both in a micro-cycle and macro-cycle.  Now that I am training for 3 sports - swimming, cycling, and running I struggle with the idea of taking a complete day off.  I'll think well I'll just swim - that's impact free or I'll just ride easy because I haven't been on the bike in a couple days.  I am allowing myself to cross-train on Friday mornings - using the elliptical and to take Monday evening off to have a relaxing evening with friends after being in class from 9am to 7pm.

What do you do on your days off?  What's your favorite way to Cross-train?

Last weekend was my big R&R weekend that I had scheduled into my training plan.  Naturally I pushed myself extra hard for the 5 days leading up to Thursday - what would be my first complete day off in 2011.  By Tuesday evening I was exhausted I had to pack, finish a presentation, and complete an assignment - as well as do a speed workout and hit the gym.  I listened to my body and took Tuesday afternoon off - and typed a nice FATIGUE into my training log.  I was filled with exercise guilt at first but let it go as I knew I was doing the right thing for my body.  Wednesday's workouts were awesome.  I killed my speed workout and hit the pool hard on Wednesday morning!  It felt great to feel fresh and re-invigorated by just allowing myself that afternoon off.

The real challenge came as I was in New Orleans Wednesday evening through Sunday morning.  This was the scheduled R&R time.  The time between switching my training from a base program to more of a build program.  Thursday was busy - the first day of conference and plenty of walking to and from the Convention Center as well as down Bourbon St.   Friday morning I was aching more a good sweat, so naturally I hit up the gym for 60:00 solid minutes on the elliptical.  The hotel gym was packed - so luckily I was forced to use the elliptical.  Time off could have easily turned into a long run had a snagged a treadmill.  Saturday was once again busy and filled with walking all over downtown and exploring.

Do you schedule R&R to over vacations or do you workout through your vacation time?

Taking time off is a fine and precise line between allowing my body to rest and recover and keeping my insanity.  Yes, occasionally I need a mental and physical break from training but exercise is my release and my go to - my daily constant.  Without some form of daily workout my entire temperament can change!

Now that I am back into the swing of things and training hard I am so grateful for the time off!  I have been feeling great when I go to workout and I know my body needs the rest time to repair and become stronger.  Without rest all this training would just be making me more tired and weaker.  One of my most cherished and simple types of rest is my nightly sleep - 8.5 hrs/night!  What a good chance for your body to re-cooperate and be stronger than it was the day before!

Do you struggle to actually take time off?  How much sleep do you get at night?

Why would you ever expect a hard workout to feel easy?  You must be willing to do something you've never done to achieve something you've never had. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The 2010 Nation's Triathlon: Part 2

Day 4
Race Day Finally! Morning came early at about 5:00!  I ate my usual obnoxious amount of Special K Red Berries and added my rain jacket to the needed equipment for the day.  It was pouring rain!  Ryan and I set out per our plan to walk to the transition area.  We got maybe ¼ the mile into our walk and decided it would just be better to hail a cab.  2 young women in a minivan cab were nice enough to have the cab pullover and let us join them.  By the time we got to the transition area it was already pretty crazy.  I set up my area – realizing I forgot a trash bag to keep my bike shoes and running shoes and socks dry.  Oh well, I guess I’d be soaking wet anyways.  I got my ties topped off with air, made sure both water bottles were full and was out of transition by 7.  We all stood for the National Anthem before the elites started off the race, only another 2.5 hours or so until my swim wave time!  24 and younger females – the very last wave to start the race.  I cheered on my brother through T1 before heading over to start corralling ourselves toward the water.  The excitement and vibe come from everyone was great.  The sun was coming out it was looking to be a nice day and the final swim wave was getting ready to go!

The swim was the longest and most crowded swim I had ever been a part of.  I knew I wouldn’t be one of the fasted swimmers so I started in the 2nd row of people, I don’t think I’ll do that ever again.  When everyone in front of us turned horizontal to start they kicked us like wow!  My swim was going very well until about 1100m in when I started following feet in front of me a little off course.  Luckily I caught this and didn’t get to far wide of the course!  1500m didn’t seem to hard and I was able to run out of the of water and into T1 – passing some people on my way.  I finished in the middle of the swim pack with a time of 33:52.

Transition went well.  I dumped my baby powder on my feet and pulled on my socks and shoes before securing my helmet and loading my pockets with PowerGel.  I ran through transition in my bike shoes until the mount line.  I am not yet cool enough to have the bike shoes already attached to the bike – seems disastrous to me, I’d rather not fall over during the first mile of the ride trying to put my feet in my shoes.  I was in and out of T1 in 4:20.      

The bike was great.  I loved every second of it!  I felt strong, I was passing people and gaining energy as it went on.  I had a plan to take a PowerGel at the beginning of the bike and about 17 miles into the bike.  Well that plan became more of a guessing game since there were no mile markers on the course and at the time I didn’t have a computer on my bike.  I took the 2nd gel a little early but it didn’t hurt and I could always get more during T2 or at aide stations on the run.  The Nation’s Tri has already said they will have some kind of mile marker signs up for this years race!  I was on and off the bike in 1:19:13.    

Transition once again went well.  I re-racked my bike, re-stocked my PowerGel supply and changed out my shoes before getting on the course.  T2 was pretty bare by the time I had gotten there, being in the last wave has it's pro's and con's such as not a whole lot of people around you and in your way in the transition area but there were also people lining up and coming into the transition area to get there equipment as they had finished the race and were trying to pack up.  I didn't have an issue with these people - only mentally knowing they were completely done and I was just starting 10k!  I was in and out of T2 in 2:29.

I started the running course out with a big grin on my face – I still felt strong and I knew I was going to be able to do this!  The course was a nice run past the Washington Monument and then around Hains Point.  Aide stations were at every mile with water and Powerade which was great.  I took one water to dump over myself and then either water or Powerade to drink.  I had one more gel 3 miles into the run.  I think I would have benefitted from the gel more had I taken it at mile 1 or 2.  I was very familiar with the course which helped me.  As I was coming around Jefferson Monument more and more supporters were gathered cheering on the finishers.  I started to see and hear my classmates cheering for me and got a nice kick of energy to sprint into the finish line!  It was great being greeted by classmates and given my medal by them at the finish!  I was out and back on the run in  53:18.     

The finish line festival was pretty fun.  Music, massages, food, awards, instant results.  We hung out for a long while before gathering out things and walking back home.   My finals results were as follows:

TOTAL TIME: 2:53:10
Division Place: 28th ( F 24-)
My Brother and I after The Nation's Tri 2010
I can’t wait until Sept. 11, 2011 for The Nation’s Triathlon again!  Last year was my first Olympic Distance Race but I’ll get a few more under my belt before this year’s race for preparation.  The atmosphere was awesome and the race was spectacularly organized.  This is definitely a must do triathlon at least once in your life!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The 2010 Nation's Triathlon: Part 1

Day 1
As social/community service chair of my class I happily provided the opportunity to classmates to volunteer during the race, expo, or pre-event setup.  I couldn’t pass up the swag offered to volunteers either so I headed out Thursday evening with a few classmates to volunteer for race packet stuffing.  We walked in circles for a couple hours and put one thing from each pile in a red bag and threw it in the bin.  We also put timing chips on the Velcro ankle bands and numbered them before sorting swim caps by color.  After all our volunteering we were fed a delicious meal from Chipotle.  It was a good way to spend the evening meeting fellow racers and hanging out with friends being able to help out.

Day 2
Friday afternoon immediately after class I strolled through the city to Packet Pick-up.  Packet pick-up ran smoothly and they even took a nice mug-shot of me.  It was a little confusing after picking up your race packet which included your numbers and signing your life away where to get the race-bag and shirts from. All the vendors were set up in the middle of the hall with the race information/shirts on either side.  I attended a newbie course briefing to ease some nerves and bought myself a tire repair kit from a local bike shop.  I had gotten a flat earlier in the week and didn’t have a kit, I learned my lesson and wasn’t going to let that happen come race time.  There were muscle milk samples to try and all sorts of things to check out at the expo.  After finishing up there I met up with Ryan at the end of his volunteer shift and we headed up to Annapolis for the GSU Alumni Reception.  We had a great evening talking with some older alumni and visiting with the athletic director.  The Eagles were in town for the GSU vs. Navy football game on Saturday.

Day 3

Nerves were settling in while getting everything done.  I headed down to rack my bike and do a practice swim around noon before it was too crazy at the transition area.  It was nice getting the bike racking done and over with the morning before the race.  The practice swim was also well worth it – the Potomac is not the cleanest or clearest river.  The water temperature was perfect – just on the brim of being wetsuit legal.  After completing the practice swim I headed home, showered, and got back in the car to Annapolis!  Going to support my Eagles of course!  The game was pretty good, we got to tailgate with some of Ryan’s fraternity brothers and catch up with some friends from the Naval Academy.  After the game we shot back to DC for an excellent pasta dinner courtesy of my brother!  After dinner I double checked my transition bag and went over my plan for the following morning before relaxing and resting up for the day ahead.
The Severn Inn, Annapolis MD - The Naval Academy is in the Background.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tomorrow is Today

How often do you find yourself saying I'll do that tomorrow?  I'll clean up my diet tomorrow, I'll eat better tomorrow, I'll run more tomorrow, I'll stretch more tomorrow, I'll do my core work tomorrow, I'll have my quiet time tomorrow, etc. etc. you get the point.  The majority of our culture is excellent at procrastination, but what better time than now, today, to get something done!  Start living your life in the now and accomplishing your goals today!

This philosophy really fits well into diet and exercise.  All to often you hear people say they'll start their exercise routine tomorrow or they'll eat better tomorrow.  Well when tomorrow becomes 5 years and 50-100lbs. later tomorrow has to become today!  Start your walking/jogging/running program today, start stretching today, before it all catches up with you and you are out of the game.

I struggle with this concept in the realm of stretching.  I'll stretch after the run - then I get in the shower, I'll stretch before bed - then I am too tired, so I'll stretch tomorrow.  Stretching may not be the end all be all of training but it keeps the muscles feeling good and helps maintain proper muscle length for optimal joint health! I should stretch today!

What do you tend to put off until tomorrow?

All too often people start the year off with resolutions to lose weight, eat right, and exercise more.  They splurge on their eating habits for one day and feel all is lost.  It's one day, you fell off the horse, stand up and get back on it.   We all have those days where we need the ice cream and the cookie and the who knows what else, but remember that 1 day won't ruin all the work you've put in.  Learn from your cravings and emotions and get back on the healthy lifestyle wagon the next morning - start the day off with a 30 min. of cardio and a hot shower and see what the day brings you!

What is your favorite way to start your day?

I embraced today as my tomorrow and up'd my mileage on my speed workout by 1 mile and even did some stretching after the run when I stopped in at the gym.  It wasn't easy, it took more time, but it felt great!  It helped me see that my training is going somewhere, I am improving, adapting and becoming more efficient.

I am currently reading over the Huddle Guide for FCA-E and realizing what a task it would be.  I would not tackle such a task on my own, but with the small # of DCer's interested it seems it would be a large task to unite and grow as a huddle.  I have faith at the right time a leader will come forward and a huddle will develop.  For now I'll do what I can with the people I am in contact with.  Remember He didn't promise life would be easy, but LIFE to the full.

Did you get anything done today that you've been putting off until tomorrow?