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.

What could you do if you lost weight?

On social media last week, an acquaintance posed the following question:

Fill in the blanks:

If I lost ___ lbs, then I could ____!

I couldn’t decide if my reaction was outrage or sadness or a combination of the both. So I responded:

If I lost zero pounds then I could still do everything I can do right now because my weight does not control me.

My friend and teammate Steena also had an awesome response.

Weight is a very sensitive issue. There are plenty of people out there who want to lose weight for a variety of reasons. There are also plenty of people out there who have realized that life and health are about much more than weight. It’s a complicated, emotional thing, and I’m sure like many, I will always be a little conflicted about the whole thing.

But one thing I am sure of is that you shouldn’t let your weight hold you back. If there’s something you want to do, go do it, regardless of your weight! Want to take an awesome vacation or wear a bikini on the beach or join a running club or ask that cute girl or boy out on a date? Go for it! Don’t wait until some nebulous future where you think you will be better because the scale says you are slightly lighter than you were before.

I get it. I definitely have fat days, days where I don’t particularly like the way my body looks. I participate in a sport where I wear spandex. In public. And I let people take my picture.

escape the cape run
It’s easy to look good in a photo when you can see the photographers up ahead.

However, while I’m racing, I never feel like the chubby girl. I feel powerful. My abs aren’t something to be sucked in but something that helps keep driving my body forward as I race. My thick thighs are a family trait, passed down through generations of strong women (who probably aren’t pleased that I’m running around so scantily clad).

I’m a proud Athena triathlete. I’m not ashamed of my weight when I race, and if there is an Athena class (to qualify, a woman just needs to weigh over 165 pounds, regardless of height), you’d better believe I’m registering in the class, and I’m going to gun it to try to get on the podium too. Have I had people call it the fat girl category (including other Athenas)? Sure. Do I care? Honestly, sometimes I do. I try not to, but that’s easier said than done.

Do I sometimes look at other triathletes and think “I wish I had her abs or her shoulders?” Sure. But maybe she looks at me and wishes she had my hair. Maybe she struggles with self-confidence and body image too.

Let’s not let our bodies hold us back. Let’s celebrate what they can do in the here and now. Because every body is awesome.

Hurts So Good – The Addaday Pro Massage Roller

Disclaimer: I received an Addaday Pro massage roller to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

Since my labral tear diagnosis a year ago, I have had to really commit to self-massage, in the form of a lot of foam rolling and utilizing other tools. And let me tell you, I have tried a lot of tools. I have an entire box of self-massage tools. I had heard others raving about the Addaday Pro massage roller, so when I got the chance to try it out, I was absolutely in. After all, what could it hurt?

Okay, well as anyone who has done self-massage knows, it does hurt, but in the good way.

Though the strength work I’ve been doing on my hips and legs has done wonders to help balance the effects of my labral tear, the muscles in my left leg generally have to work a bit harder than those in my right leg, simply because not only are they working to make me run or bike or swim, but they’re also doing extra work to keep my hip in place. That means that I often end up with tightness in my quad. The foam roller is great for working out that tightness, but it’s not really all that portable, nor is it easy to use.

Since getting the Addaday Pro massage roller, I’ve been taking it to work almost every day and periodically rolling out my legs for a few minutes, occasionally while on a conference call. It’s so easy to use, and don’t let those cute little massage balls fool you, they can get in there and hit those sore spots.

Wet hair, don’t care

The Addaday Pro has three types of rollers on it – two firmer rollers, two softer rollers, and one pinpoint roller, which is amazing on my shin. Personally, I use the firmest rollers the most, but I’ve also spent over a year doing self-massage, getting regular Graston work, and generally torturing my leg into behaving. Many people will likely prefer the softer rollers.

Where I think this roller rises above some other products that I have tried is the fact that you can do more pinpoint work with the massage balls. Many rolling products (including my beloved foam roller) are flat, and while those certainly have a place, the Addaday Pro really lets you get into those knots and work them out. I have a spot near my knee that always tightens up and this tool lets me really get in there and work out the knot. It’s not the most enjoyable experience, but it works. It’s great on your IT band too. And you’re controlling the pressure, so you can go as firm or as gentle as you want.

(I let my coworker try the roller and the response was “This is terrible. But it feels so good!”)

Given the portability and ease of use, I think this roller is moving to the top of my list of self-massage tools. Thanks to weather, I had to cancel my last PT appointment, so I’m overdue for Graston and dry needling in my leg, and yet I’m not noticing any crazy stiffness, and I think that I owe that to all the time I’ve spent with the Addaday Pro. No, it’s not going to replace my physical therapist, but it’s certainly a good addition to my arsenal.

This one goes into my “Absolutely Recommended” column. If you don’t do some form of self-massage, you’re really missing out on a key element of recovery, and this tool is worth checking out.

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

Setting my 2019 Race Schedule

My word of the year is challenge, and that’s something I’ve been focusing on as I set my race schedule for the year. I’ve had the races for the first half of the year pretty well locked down – a few olympics as tune-up and rehearsal for my big goal, IM 70.3 Ohio. But that only takes me through July. July is when my race season started last year, thanks to injury and surgery.

I started looking at what will come after July, with the idea of a challenge in the back of my mind.

I decided I wanted to finally tackle the series challenge with a local race group, which means doing at least five of their races. I’ve already got three on my schedule, so adding two more doesn’t sound too bad.

One thing I’ve never done is a back to back triathlon, racing both Saturday and Sunday. I’ve done it with half marathons, but not in a few years. So an added challenge for the year is going to be a Saturday olympic and Sunday sprint. The hardest part is going to be getting out of bed both days, I suspect!

So as of right now, here’s what I’m looking at:

  • 4/20 – Rumpus in Bumpass Olympic
  • 5/11 – Kinetic Olympic
  • 5/25 – Swimfest 4500
  • 6/15 – General Smallwood Olympic
  • 7/28 – 70.3 Ohio
  • 8/24 – Farm to Fork Fondo (tentative)
  • 9/7-8 – Patriot’s Olympic and Sprint (tentative)
  • 10/13 – Army Ten Miler (tentative)
  • 12/1 – Space Coast Half Marathon

The “tentative” just means that I haven’t plunked down the cash yet for the race. I’m also thinking I’ll add some more running races in the fall, maybe the Baltimore half, which I haven’t run in years. I should also pick up some 10ks here and there as time permits.

Given how little I raced last year, this feels like a lot, but I’m excited to tackle the challenge. I love the camaraderie of racing, and I’m looking forward to getting back out there.