Comparison is the Thief of Joy

The title of this post is one of my favorite quotes from Theodore Roosevelt, and it’s something I try to remind myself of on a regular basis.

In this world of social media and everyone trying to put their best foot forward, it’s hard to feel like we’re not constantly being compared to everyone else.

I often talk about how I’m a proud back-of-the-pack racer. I joke that I like to get my money’s worth out of a course. And generally, I don’t mind being on the slower side. I’ve met some great people while out on race courses as we hang out in the back of the pack.

But sometimes, as people are busting out amazing race times, I wonder if maybe I’m not good enough, even when I’m out there doing my best and breaking my own records. It’s a feeling I’m sure a lot of people have, as they watch others chasing BQs and Kona qualifiers.

One thing I’ve decided to do is be more vocal about my personal accomplishments, show that we can all be proud of ourselves, regardless of paces.

Last week, though it made me a bit nervous, I posed a screenshot of my morning swim. I swam 3500 yards on a Monday morning. While I often share my distances, I don’t often share how long those distances take me. But this time, I decided to go for it.

I was very tired by the time this day was over.

And you know what? It felt kind of good to put it out there. Yeah, I’ve got friends posting 100 times under a minute and I’m struggling to break two minutes (though I managed it this weekend!) but that doesn’t matter. We’re all at different paces and that’s okay. I showed up at the pool on a Monday morning and swam for 90+ minutes and I’m proud of that.

I have similar feelings about FTP tests. I’ve seen lots of cool screenshots from people taking FTP tests and I’ve never shared that because I always felt like my FTP was so low compared to everyone else’s. But my FTP is continuing to climb, and that’s the key. I’m getting stronger. I can’t compare myself to anyone else.

That said, I’m not going to hide my numbers or be ashamed of them. My FTP is currently 157 watts. That’s the highest it’s ever been, and I’m really proud of the progress I’ve made over the past year, coming back from injury and being able to start the season stronger than ever.

I guess the lesson here is to not worry about how you compare to others, but just be proud of yourself and your accomplishments. And don’t be ashamed to share them. I know I’m always excited for friends when they achieve a new goal, regardless of how my own goals compare.

February Recap

February. The doldrums of the year. Some of my favorite people have birthdays in February, and there is always an awesome Superb Owl party, but beyond that, this month is so grey and dreary. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t get recapped. Let’s start with my non-sports-related goals.

I set a goal to cook one new recipe a month. I give myself half a point on this one. I didn’t cook any new recipes, but I tried out Hungry Root, which is a meal prep delivery deal, except it’s pretty much just mix, heat, and eat, rather than the chopping and the prepping. It’s certainly not for everyone, and it’s not cheap, but I enjoyed what I had, will likely keep ordering it sporadically (because man, being able to eat real food during the crazy weeks was so nice), and might do a review one of these days.

Another goal was to read more books this year, and I’m doing okay on this one. I’ve been trying to read things on my to-read list and get through the giant stack of books I have in the house, and I think the problem is that I haven’t been in the mood for those particular books. So I put out a call on Twitter for recommendations and so far, that’s helped send me back in the right direction.

Finally, I wanted to get back into an awesome strength work routine. I started strong, but haven’t been doing as well as I would like. Stepping that back up this month.

February Totals
Swim: 11.9 miles
Bike: 147 miles
Run: 26 miles

I have caught up and gotten ahead of my swim goal pace for the year. Apparently that’s what happens when you actually show up for swim workouts. Who knew?

Run totals are still low, but I just managed to get a transfer entry into the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler, so those numbers will be picking up pretty swiftly, and Kim’s back, talking me into fall races, so running, here I come. Bike numbers are all Zwift miles, so those don’t really correlate to outdoor miles, but that’s okay.

In way more exciting bike news, I did an FTP test this month and my FTP increased by 13 watts. 13 more watts! And more exciting, this is the highest my FTP has ever been. That means I’m not only back from where I was pre-surgery and pre-injury, I’m finally making some real gains. That’s a huge mental boost. (Except that a higher FTP just means harder workouts, and everything is terrible.)

2019 Totals
Swim: 15.6 miles
Bike: 273 miles
Run: 48 miles

January Recap

KSAC Pool with slide
This pool is so nice and so stupidly hard to get to. Where is my hovercar?

You know those people who start off the year with banner workouts and then fall off throughout the year? Yeah, that’s not me. January was a low mileage month for me. I blame Disney and getting sick. Disney was totally worth it. Getting sick was way less fun, but probably also the fault of my Disney trip. Either way, I expect things to go up from here. And hey, if nothing else, I ran way more miles than I did last January!

January Miles:
Swim – 3.7 miles
Bike – 126 miles
Run – 22 miles

Yep, behind on all counts. Whatever, I’ll get there, I’m sure. (As I write this, I can envision my coach reading this and laughing, Mr. Burns style.)

But I set goals other than just mileage goals. This year, I wanted to cook one new recipe a month, read 50 books, and get back to strength work. (And budget better, but this is decidedly not a personal finance blog, so let’s just assume I’m always working on that.)

This month, I tried two new recipes, Miso Butter Salmon from the Run Fast, Cook Fast, Eat Slow cookbook and Millet Pizzas from the Run Fast, Eat Slow cookbook. The salmon was FABULOUS and I will be making it again. The pizzas were… okay. They were a lot of work and not so delicious that I am desperate to make them again.

I also read 6 books this month! (Okay, I finished 6 books this month. Two of those books were things I started to read previously and hadn’t gotten through. So I picked them back up first thing this year.) If you’re interested in that sort of thing, you can check out my profile on Goodreads, but I think from this batch, the book I’m going to recommend is The Forgotten Hours by Katrin Schumann. It wasn’t quite a book that I couldn’t put down, but it was darn close. I definitely looked forward to picking it back up.

As for strength work, I did it! I’ve restarted ChaLEAN Extreme. And it’s just as hard as I remember it being. I’m not following the calendar of workouts, just doing a workout once or twice a week as dictated in my training schedule. So it will take me more than three months to get through the cycle, but it’s still a great workout, and a great way for me to be able to track my results. I don’t expect to get swole or anything, but it’s definitely good for my body to get some strength work in addition to all the cardio.

2018 Mileage Review and 2019 Goals

ImageParty / Pixabay

One of my goals for this year was to faithfully log my bike and swim mileage (as well as my run mileage) so that I could set 2019 goals. Until this year, I had no idea how far I biked or swam in a year. This year’s bike miles include outdoor miles and Zwift miles, so it’s not an exact science, but it’s data nonetheless.

So how did I do?

Final 2018 Mileage
Swim – 58.1 miles
Bike – 1651 miles
Run – 314 miles

And you know what? I’m pretty proud of those miles. My run mileage is the lowest it’s been in years, but look at all the miles I got in even with an injury and surgery! I set my goal for the year at 500 miles, and considering that I wasn’t able to run until mid-May and then had to build up from zero, hitting 300 miles is awesome.

Of course, since this year was an aberration, I’m still not sure what good mileage goals might be. So I’m just going to take a guess at a good challenge, try to push myself, but most importantly, have fun and stay healthy and uninjured. I apparently logged activities on Strava 230 days this year. I wonder how many active days I will have in a healthy year!

2019 Mileage Goals
Swim – 75 miles (maybe this will inspire me to actually GO to the pool)
Bike – 2000 miles (this one scares me too)
Run – 500 miles

2019 Goals and Word of the Year

One thing I like to do every year is look back and see how I spent my time, what I thought I would get done and didn’t, and what I want to prioritize in the coming year. I also look ahead at what I have on the calendar. I use all of these things to set some goals for the year. Typically, these goals are focused on bettering myself and the world around me.

This year, I’m also setting a word of the year, something I want to use to help focus my year. I have a number of Coeur teammates who do this every year, and I decided this year, I would too.

For 2019, my word is Challenge. I picked this after reading through some quotes and came across this one: “Don’t limit your challenges, challenge your limits.” This definitely resonated with me, especially when it comes to racing. I often set race goals for myself that I fear I can’t meet but then I end up meeting and beating. The majority of the time, I crush my A goals. To me, that says I’m not setting my challenges high enough. This year, I want to push myself, both in triathlon and in life. I want to see what I can accomplish.

I took a look at my goals for last year and used those as a framework for 2019. I think some were too generic and I need to be more specific. I won’t say these are full on SMART goals, but they’re closer.

Goal 1 – Train and Race Smart at IM 70.3 Ohio
As the race draws closer, I will set specific time goals. Ideally, I would like to crush my 70.3 PR, but isn’t that always the race goal? Truly, the goal is to be smart about training. I want to push myself, but not so hard that I burn out or get injured or sick.

Goal 2 – Cook One New Recipe a Month
I have so many amazing cookbooks, and yet I tend to pick one or two recipes from them and just make them over and over again. I want to try at least one new recipe a month.

Goal 3 – Read More Books
This year, I got really into longform journalism, which is awesome, but it meant that I wasn’t reading as many books as I used to. I want to get back to that (which will also mean not reading from a screen before bed, which is a terrible habit) and track in Goodreads. I am going to try to read 50 books this year, which will include audiobooks. Given the hours of training I have ahead of me, that should be doable.

Goal 4 – Get My Budget to YNAB’s Rule 4
I have been using You Need a Budget for money management for probably around 10 years. The application has changed a lot in those years, but the basic concepts of the budgeting method haven’t. Rule 4 is the basic idea that you live on last month’s income. It helps you build a buffer for when unexpected expenses appear, and it makes monthly budgeting a lot easier. Now, I’m certainly not living paycheck to paycheck, but it’s been a while since I’ve been fully at Rule 4 and I’d like to get back there.

Goal 5 – Lift Heavy Things
When I injured my hip, I gave up on a lot of my workouts, and the big thing that hasn’t fully returned is weightlifting. I’m doing bodyweight workouts and some upper body strength work, but I want to get back to doing my regular weightlifting routine. My plan is to start with once a week and then increase that. I have the ChaLEAN Extreme Program that was popular a number of years back and I really enjoy it. It’s slow, controlled movements, and the workouts are under 45 minutes.

I think these are definitely doable goals, but also goals that will challenge me, especially in terms of time management. Life is busy, but it’s important I prioritize myself.