Staying Motivated During the Off-Season

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I was having a conversation with a coworker the other day about motivation.  She had to defer a marathon because she was under trained.  She was beating herself up about having lost all of the progress she had made from training for her last marathon.  She had hoped that her body would just “remember” how to run marathons and her training wouldn’t be so bad.

You can imagine how that went.

I suggested she pick a spring half marathon and aim for that, give herself a halfway point towards her fall marathon.  In discussing staying motivated, I told her how I have found that if I don’t have a race I’m actively working towards, I don’t put in the training I need to.  As part of my motivation through the winter, I make sure to have a few races on my schedule.  This winter, I have:

  • SpaceCoast Half – November
  • Disney 10k – January… and not super motivating, let’s be honest
  • Donna Half – February
  • Cherry Blossom Ten Miler – April
  • Tink Half – May

I can’t give up my distance training if I have races coming up every few months.  While over the winter I want to keep up all three triathlon disciplines, right now, I can tell that I have the most room for improvement on my bike, and I’m currently in a not-so-secret love affair with my bike trainer, so that one’s easy to stick to.  But the treadmill is more of a love-hate relationship.  If I weren’t pushing towards all of these races, it would be really easy to slack off and lose some of that distance base.

So for me, I use interim races to stay motivated.  I want to run all of these races strong, but I’m not necessarily aiming for a PR at any of them, since that’s not my goal for the winter season.  (My goal is to significantly improve my bike skills.  And not gain 100 pounds over Christmas.)

If you don’t want to do interim races, maybe set a monthly mileage goal for yourself and reward yourself for hitting those goals.

Find something that will keep you motivated through the cold winter months and stick to your plan.  You will be glad you did once spring racing starts.

(And if you live in Florida, what’s your excuse?  Get out there and get running!)

When Your Race Gets Cancelled

For those of you who follow triathlon, IRONMAN Maryland was scheduled for this past Saturday.  Wednesday afternoon, the race was cancelled.  The area had already received quite a bit of rain over the past couple of days and more was expected, plus there was a solid chance Hurricane Joaquin was going to show up.

It wasn’t an ideal situation, but I think that the race organizers made the best choice they could, given the circumstances.  There was a solid chance that the bike course would be flooded even without a hurricane, and should bad weather hit, the last thing they needed was more people who would have to be evacuated.

Finally, and I think most importantly, the emergency personnel who would be staffing the race would be better utilized preparing for the weather.

Well, the hurricane thankfully ended up staying out to sea, though it definitely would not have been a perfect race day.  A few people posted videos of the swim venue on Saturday.  There was no way there would have been a swim.  And it rained most of the day.  It’s not impossible to race in the rain, but it’s pretty depressing and depending on the roads, a little dangerous too.  There were a few photos posted of flooded roads.

IRONMAN has yet to fully announce the plans for how they are handling the cancelled race.  They are planning to tentatively hold the race two weeks later, and will officially announce that tomorrow.  For those who can’t make it back, things are up in the air.  But we can’t do anything except wait and see.

A good number of people posting online about the race cancellation/postponement have been polite.  People understanding of the situation, glad that the decision was made early, sending best wishes to the people who live in the area.

But there has been a significant amount of hate and vitriol. People saying that this was stupid, that there should have been a race, that IRONMAN is just going to keep all of their money.   My favorite comment was “We should just have the race on Friday before the storm hits, because all the racers and the volunteers will already be there.”  Number one, that’s not true.  This volunteer worked on Friday.  Number two, what about the community?  It’s not like you can just pick up and host a 140.6 race on a different day with no planning.

It’s as if people have gotten out their pitchforks and have started fighting before having all the facts.  This is a crappy situation all around, but people need to just settle down.  It gives the triathlon community a bad name.

The End of a Successful Triathlon Season

With Giant Acorn complete, my 2015 triathlon season is complete.  I can’t believe this was my third year of triathlon.  I still feel like such a beginner.

In 2013, I did two triathlons, plus one indoor triathlon (which I don’t really count).  It was definitely a whirlwind.

In 2014, I doubled that and did four triathlons, greatly improved my finish time for IronGirl Columbia and found myself on the podium at Dragonfly Heart.

In 2015, I did six triathlons, improved my finish at Giant Acorn, and found myself on the podium twice.  I also raced on Team Coeur, and it was such fun to be on this team.  I have some incredibly impressive teammates.

I feel like I should continue the trend and do 8 triathlons in 2016, but it’s really going to depend on scheduling.  I want my racing to be about quality, not quantity.  Will I be on the podium three times?  Probably not.  Ideally, I’ll continue to lose weight and find myself no longer eligible for Athena, because man, it would be nice to have less weight to haul up those hills.  But we’ll see what happens.

I started the season with the Kinetic Sprint.  I wasn’t really ready to start the racing season and while my body did just fine, my mind wasn’t into it yet.

After that, I jumped right into Challenge Williamsburg Oly.  This was really my “big” race for the year.  It was my second oly, and I had big goals.  Huge goals.  And then the weather pushed back.  It was so very hot, but rather than lament the heat, I just decided to laugh my way through it.  It was a good lesson to learn and something I tried to stick with through the rest of the season.  And I had a surprise podium finish!

Next up, Colonial Beach Sprint.  When Liz convinced me to sign up for a triathlon in July, I figured it would be a hot slog.  Oh, how wrong I was.  It was cold and so very rainy.  And we had an absolute blast.  It would have been easy to be frustrated with the conditions, but instead we just laughed it off and it may have been the most fun I had while racing all season.

Then back to the Fort Ritchie Sprint.  I wanted to do better than the previous year.  And I did, but it wasn’t the race I wanted.  I’m used to battling my heart rate issues, but this was the first time that I really felt affected by my condition, as I had to get off my bike for a hill once my HR was in the 190’s.  I was angry at the situation and frustrated that it was due to a last minute course change (not the director’s fault – it was the safest option).  But still, I managed to finish 5 miles faster, and with walking a chunk of the bike, that’s a pretty good thing.

Later that month was IronGirl Columbia.  This was my third time back, and it was very different than what I was used to.  It’s a huge race, and in previous years, we were a very early start wave.  This time, I was in a fairly late wave, which meant I got to watch a lot of racers start.  That was a lot of fun, but it also meant way too much time on my feet before the race.  My own fault.  I had a good race, not as good as the previous year, but given the temperature and my own pre-race mistakes, I’ll take it.

Then one more race, Giant Acorn Oly. Another repeat, so I had some concrete goals.  First off, don’t get a flat tire during the race.  But I had a general idea of how much time I had lost with that flat tire, so I wanted to do better.  I wanted to do better than I had at Challenge Williamsburg.  The two races aren’t really comparable – the distances are the same, but the courses are very different, plus Williamsburg was kind of like the surface of the sun when I raced there.  But I pushed myself and had a phenomenal race.  I have been focusing on proper fueling over the past month and I think it might be paying off.

All in all, it was a really good season for me.  I really focused on putting in the training and it definitely paid off.

I have some pretty big goals for 2016, but I’m not sure I’m ready to make a big pronouncement just yet.  Over the winter, I really need to work on my cycling.  I think my trainer and I are going to become very good friends this winter.  I also need to get more comfortable on my tri bike so I can start racing in aero.  (I also need to find money to kit out said bike, which currently has no hydration system.  I wonder how Santa feels about bringing triathlon gear.)

I’m super glad that I got into triathlon.  I have made SO many friends through racing.  I’ve started taking better care of myself, and I’ve made my training a priority.  Even though I may not have lost a bunch of weight (yet?) I know that I’m in even better shape than I was when I was only running.  If you’re thinking about getting into triathlon (or duathlon or even aquavelo racing), I highly recommend it.

Wednesday Workout Recap

First off, thanks for all the kind comments on yesterday’s post.  I didn’t write it to have people compliment me.  I am well aware of what I look like in spandex and 95% of the time, I just don’t care.  That’s not what racing is about for me.  But it’s nice to hear anyway.

On to the recap.  Taper weeks are so lovely.

Monday  – Rest Day

Tuesday – Easy 3 mile run with pickups.  Did this in about 40 minutes.  I’m finding that my easy runs are getting easier.  Guess this training thing is working.

Wednesday – Easy 30 minute bike with pickups.  So nice.  Also, the fan I bought to put in front of my bike trainer was possibly the best purchase I made all year.  Glorious, glorious wind.

Thursday – Ended up on a conference call during swim, so I missed swim practice.

Friday – Rest Day

Saturday – RACE DAY

Sunday – Rest Day

And that’s the end of my triathlon season.  I’d say it was a pretty darn good one.  On to the next adventure!

There is No Magic Pill

I wasn’t going to post about this, but I don’t think the person I’m referring to reads my blog, and if they do, well, it’s their own fault for doing what I’m about to discuss.

I don’t post a ton on my personal Facebook page, but when I do, it’s often in reference to races (or funny animal videos, which is the purpose of the internet).  And this includes photos of me in race gear.  For triathlons, that means spandex.  Spandex is the great equalizer.  I don’t know that anyone really looks great in spandex.  Okay, there are some people.  But the average human being doesn’t look stellar.

And you know what?  No one cares. At a triathlon, no one is judging you for how you look in your kit.  (Unless you look fabulous.  Then we’re probably envious.)  Triathlon has been great for my body image.  Yes I have some unsightly bulges that perhaps should be smaller.  But I just hauled those bulges through a tough race and I deserve all the accolades coming my way (even if they’re just in my own head).

So at some point in the not so distant past, there was a photo of me in my cute pink Team Coeur kit on my Facebook page.  My hair was a disaster and I probably had dirt on my face, but I was grinning and having a grand time.   I thought it was a good pic.

And then I got the message.

A “friend” messaged me to tell me that she had seen my pictures and wanted to offer me a deal on some great slimming wraps to help improve my shape.  She just knew that these would help me out a lot, and since there was a sale going on, it was the perfect time to buy.

Now if that’s not a hit to the self-esteem, I don’t know what is.  I’m so glad to know that people are reading my Facebook page and judging what I look like and deciding “Hey, that girl looks like she could lose some inches.  Let’s try to get her to buy some product I’m selling!”

Plus, let’s be real here.  Those things do not work.  I don’t care what anyone says.  Slimming wraps have no real effect.  Will they dehydrate you and temporarily reduce your waistline?  Sure.  But we’re talking extremely temporarily.  Like less than a day temporarily.  Like “drink a glass of water and it’s gone” temporarily.  So, you know, if you’re about to go out and do a bikini photo shoot, by all means!  These things are for you!

But if you’re looking for a true change in your body, one that lasts?  There is no magic pill.  No wrap or cream or pill is going to make you smaller.  I know, the ads are compelling.  All the before and after pictures make you want to try it out.  But it’s not worth it.  What works is hard work and dedication.

We would all love that magic pill to solve all of our problems.  But the biggest problem is that we spend all of our time hunting for it instead of working towards real solutions.