Sunday, December 30, 2012

No Winter Lasts Forever

Today while hubby and I were absolutely freezing our last toenail off on a bike ride, and cursing the weatherman who cheerily predicted high temps of 48 when it was just short of ice crystal formation, we happened to bike by an old farmhouse out in the country. It looked familiar, and in fact it was. Just this summer, we got so overheated on a ride on a 98 degree day that we stopped and soaked our heads in the sprinkler that was going on their lawn.

It's hard to believe we could ever have been that hot. Truth be told, we were probably far too close to heatstroke. But at this moment, in the frigid December air, it was almost impossible to remember what a broiling mid-summer afternoon feels like, and back in July or August I'm sure it was equally hard to remember what it could be like to be so cold.

As the end of the year approaches, and I think back on the year gone by. There were days when it felt like all the earth was spinning my way, and others when I bumped up against one frustration after another. When you're at either extreme, it can be hard to imagine the other. But all of those days together make up a year - the hot ones, the cold ones, the hard ones, and the easy ones.

As we head into the year to come, I can see some scary days ahead of me. I'm writing up a resume, something I haven't done since 1988, applying for some jobs that I may or may not get. My son is going to his first day of college in a little more than a week. My daughter is auditioning for a big role she really wants. My husband will face his first Ironman. I will prepare to test for my 2nd degree black belt. I may face a surgeon's knife if I ever want to run again. And there will be trials and tribulations that I can't even imagine right now.

On those days when it all feels overwhelming, I hope I remember this old farmhouse. How it can be frosted over one day, when not so very long ago it was a cool oasis on a long strip of blistering hot blacktop. I hope I can hold onto the knowing - that even if today is hard and the obstacles seem insurmountable, that just a little while later, the world will look completely different again.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

48 Weeks To Iron Hubby: Man on the Road

The two biggest obstacles to training for an Ironman for most people are work, and parenthood. While our days of parenting infants and toddlers are long behind us, parenting teens may just require more work (or is that just more driving them around?), and hubby has the distinct disadvantage of also traveling for his job, usually one week out of every two. Except this month it's been 3 weeks out of 4.

So how do you fit it all in when you have a family, work, and travel to account for?

Fitting in workouts when you're on the road so much makes for a challenging training schedule. Here's what we've figured out for Wayne's workout schedule to maximize his use of time when he's away from home and when he's back in town:

RUNNING: This is the easiest activity to achieve anywhere, so running stays a constant in Wayne's training plan. His longer runs will occur on weekends, since he's almost always home for those. But on the road, he can usually fit in 2 - 3 more runs a week, even during traveling weeks. Most business hotels now have a treadmill or two at a minimum, and he can use these when traveling in the wintertime. Boring, but necessary!

BIKING: Wayne's training plan will alternate between light bike weeks (Friday and Sunday rides only) when he's traveling, and heavier bike weeks (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday) when he's home. We're planning on a couple of strategically placed "big bike weeks" where we pump up the bike volume in the spring and summer. Right now he's concentrating on getting as much time in the aerobars as possible, to build up his muscles before we start hitting the longer rides in the spring.

SWIMMING: When he's in town, Wayne's hitting the pool with the Masters, and steadily improving his swim times. When he's out of town, well most hotel pools leave a lot to be desired, so that's hit and miss. Still, swimming is the shortest part of an Ironman, and one that Wayne should be able to make a decent time in, even at his current skill level.

In short, training for triathlons requires a commitment, whether you're in town, out of town, have kids to get places, or whatever your circumstances. While Wayne is busy jetting to some other city and running on a hotel treadmill, I have dropped the kids off at Kung Fu class and play rehearsal respectively, and with the dogs in tow I'm fitting in my 3 mile run, sometimes in the pouring rain. That's what commitment and training is all about - getting it done, no matter where you are and how you have to fit it in. A lot of people are surprised that Wayne signed up for the Ironman, given his work schedule, but like so many Ironmen before him, he's made the commitment to get the workouts done.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

The Power To Transform Your Life

Hubby and I were at REI today buying him some cold weather tights so he can ride outdoors in these cold December days, and we ran into some friends we hadn't seen in awhile.

Except that we didn't even recognize one of them. But she knew us. You know how awkward that is when someone knows you and you can't even place them? Well, there was a reason. She has lost 100 pounds and completely transformed her health and her life.

She no longer has diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol. She no longer takes a dozen medications just to get by. She's healthy and vital and brimming with energy and glowing with good health! She was there at REI to buy some new hiking boots, she now walks three or more miles a day.

We hear the words so often, they've ceased to make an impact on our ears: diet and exercise. Exercise and diet. It sounds so simple, it couldn't possibly be as simple as that, could it? Isn't there a pill, shake weight, fat-blasting DVD or other quick fix that will do it for me? But it IS that simple. When you take control of your health, the food you eat, the movements that your body does, you can simply transform your life.

I am blessed as a coach to work with people every day who have made this incredible transformation. I hear their stories, I see the tears in their eyes, I know how grateful they are to be able to walk, swim, run, move. I know how tough it's been for them and how hard they've worked, and I know how much it's worth it. If you're waiting for something out there to transform your life, don't. Don't wait, just get started. You have the power.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

When 3 Miles Is A Long Run: The Road to Recovery

I shared a great quote on my Facebook page the other day that's worth repeating:

It never gets easier. You just get better.

It's worth repeating because many people think that athletic achievements are somehow easier for people who are athletes than they are for non-athletes. It's just not true. While it might be easier for one person to go faster than another (I will never bike as fast as Lance Armstrong, with our without the doping), it's never easy.

Let me repeat that: It's never easy. Not for any athlete. Not for the couch-to-5k'er, not for the experienced marathoner. Not for Lance Armstrong, even with dope.

And when you haven't run in six months, you come face to face with this inevitable truth because all of a sudden something you could once do without thinking becomes very very hard. A three mile run. Just a 5k. Sure, a 5k race is brutal, but to just go out and run a few miles at an easy pace? I used to be able to do that in my sleep.

Now there is no easy pace.

But. But, but, but.... I can run! 

I started with a trail run two weeks ago, just 20 minutes. Last week it was a post-Thanksgiving run on my hometown trails, and I did 30 minutes without a problem. Today I did 3.5 miles and so far so good, my knee is a little sore but no stabbing pain yet.

My current plan is to work up to 4 miles once a week, with the other two runs of 30 minutes each on the elliptical. Then gradually I'll transition each of those runs back to actual running. When I can run 3 - 4 miles three times a week, then and only then will I start building in some more mileage. If it feels bad at any point, I can back off. That's something I couldn't do for oh, a couple of decades, but I'm trying to be good about training smarter and letting my body heal.

Another thing I'm trying to be good about is to release my expectations. So I did take my watch today, but I told myself I would be fine with whatever it said. 10 minute miles, 11, 12, whatever. I was pleasantly surprised to find them all under 10, with the last one under 9.

As always, the first mile always feels the worst (unless you're in an Ironman or a marathon, in which case miles 22 - 25 always feel the worst. Always.) but it did get better and that last mile felt almost.... dare I say it? Good.