I have been thinking lately about what works for me. This is a pretty broad topic obviously but i mean in the big picture of triathlon, training, lifestyle and most importantly HEALTH. I think it's very easy to get lost in the training/racing/image and forget that it should be about our overall physical and mental health. If something I am doing is "hurting me"( and i dont mean a sore hamstring, etc) I need to check back and adapt my lifestyle.
One example i have is when i got Melanoma. My lifestyle of staying in the sun from 9-2pm had to change. I had to be suspect of suntans and wear my sunscreen. When my Iron has been low, I have to realize that when I work out harder I need to eat more red meat. When my family says they appreciate me being with them and not running out to train, I listen and remember that my family is more important to me than any training piece that day. When my husband was dying I really really thought alot about what sports and my lifestyle meant to me, and this year, my first summer without Rich I have a few thoughts i wanted to share.
So What works for me at 47 yo. Believe it or not I still feel I can get faster.
1) NOT doing Ironman every year. Dang that's a tough one to swallow. I think if i lived in a warmer climate maybe i could, but living in MN, and at my age i think its hard enough for women over 35 yo ( sorry that is young i know but its true) to keep muscle. IM training is very catabolic. We are slowing down as is, so even tho it hurts in a different way, doing short and fast has been something I think i will keep doing. Ouch i know.
2) Strength and PT specific pre-hab. Note i didnt say Cross Fit or Boot Camp or TRX or p 90x or...
Go ahead and do that, but for me? I know where my weakness is and I know what works for me. What i do is VERY VERY non glamorous. Oh boy is is not glamorous. But i do it 3 x week for 30-40 minutes and I do it till i fatigue. I know i am fatigued when my glutes are sore in the morning, but they arent a "OMG i cant run sore, " just a " yup those guys are working," sore. I used to just do thru the stuff and go " check, check, check.." now i go thru it and keep it going till i know i have fatigued.
Trust me ALOT easier when i am not riding 100 miles and running 20. It was really hard to do the strength on top of the IM training. That being said i think that is when we need it. FORM falls apart in long distance. Racing short makes your muscles work differently, not saying you dont need it for short distance, you do, but for Long Course i think the strength is even more critical.
3) Rest/Recovery/Sleep. This summer i have had some things personally that have made my sleep less restful. We all know our sleep needs. And we all have reasons we may not sleep soundly, kids being one of them. I Find naps to be super helpful even for 30 minutes. I know not everyone can sleep 8hours a night, but maybe skipping an early workout is ok once in a while to sleep in.
4) Trusting the Plan and the Coach. I have learned the hard way that its just a plan. Sometimes the body doesnt want to bounce back as fast as my head does after a race. My coach reminds me that its just a plan, its not the bible and its not set in stone. I do trust my coach and If I didnt I would be in deep doo-doo. I would overtrain and I would push the envelope a bit more. Jen keeps me honest with myself bc I dont think I am 47.
5) More bodywork. In addition to PT visits 1x month ( give or take) for strength updates I see alot of people to help keep my body moving. Some of you may roll your eyes and say " that sounds lovely" but trust me, its not all fun and I dont look at it as a luxury ONE single bit. I am able to do the massage bc i have a membership and its reasonable.I also see a Rolfer who consistently unwinds my Rt Lumbar muscles and gets my body all connected so im not being rotated or torqued right. My DC puts my first rib back where it belongs and moves my lax ( loose) left shoudler joint back where it should be, Then we talk for 10 minutes about biking. The Docs at Spine and Sport ( DC as well) do the deep work and ART that hurts alot but has kept my Left Hamstring and my Fascia all loose. There isnt too much rhymre or reason to when i get all this stuff done, Ideally I see someone every other week and often its weekly. ( not all of them, but one of them) knowing how bodies work, and injury usually doesnt just HAPPEN unless its acute and trauma. Overuse injuries creep up on us, so I try to stay ahead of it.
And yes you guys in your 20's and 30's, just wait:) You will see.
6) Nutrition. This is where i tell you i follow a regimented Gluten Free and No sugar diet.
You know I respect anyone that has to do that. I m glad you know your body. For me I dont put a heck of a lot of time or thought into what i eat as long as its not making me sick. I eat well.I eat a variety of things and I try to eat frequently and not alot of processed stuff. But last week i had wine and beer the week before Lifetime. I had candy bars. I just think moderation is the key. I am way over the " I did this amount of exercise so i can eat this..." mindset. Half the time after a race esp a longer race i am so sick of sugar all I want is a burger and a beer. At onepoint this summer i had food poisoning. Spinach and Beets were the cause. So honestly I have been eating lighther greens and havent had raw spinach in weeks. Very sad bc I was eating that ALOT, but I can eat kale. Cooked:)
7) Lastly and most important in the WHAT WORKS post is faith in myself. This sorta taps into what Hunter Kemper talked about ( still owe you a post on that) as he talked about all the injuries he had, one question we had was how he kept so positive? I know deep down inside that any race i do I am going to lay it out on the line, I am going to take chances and go for it. The worst case is I fail and I get passed or I dont do what i thought i was capable of. Or someone else has a great day! I have no control over that.
What I do have control over is that no matter if i win, lose or DNF, or DNS ( boo!) is that I am solid in who i am. If I go into a room full of friends or family I tell ya most of them dont really care how i did. They ask, they support or they say " oh bummer," and then the topic moves on. Strip away any suntan, any PR, and race win and what I have left with I am pretty happpy with.
Rich used to remind me that he loved me for who I was and I was perfect just as God made me. This stuff is all fluff. Whether or not you believe in God, we are all equal in God's eyes and so at the end of the day, win or lose, epic training or simple 20 minute walk, we can all be thankful for what we can do and the chance to do it without a facebook post or a shout of glory as you cross a finish line. Its funny. I dont do this stuff for the accolades. Dont think I dont like them, I mean we all love doing well and if you are a competitive athlete its sorta just in you. But at the end of the day we choose how we let it affect us, and we all know that as quickly as you are on the top, many others will be a top soon as well.
Keep your head on straight and enjoy the ride.