It was a cool early Spring day when I felt inspired. The coffee was running in my veins and the smile could not be any bigger on my face. It was one of those über productive work-days where you just want to shout, “yeah!!!” about every thirty minutes. I’m sure you’ve felt these moments before– rare as they are, I usually turn my inspiration into art or cleaning. But this day was different. This day I decided to challenge myself for the better. Do something I’ve never done before. You know– the fickle statement of “if they can do it, I certainly can.” I’ve learned a lot of humility since then.
I decided to impulsively start training for a triathlon. You know– swim, bike, run, remain standing after? I figured I can get in shape and really, how hard would it honestly be? Those very words are my lunch daily. I already had a bike (another impulsive purchase from about two years ago when I decided I could be a cyclist…) and a childhood of swimming and a lifetime of loathing running– surely I could do it!
Like every great naive training plan, I went in full-throttle and started running more, faster, and harder than I ever had. A few weeks later, I found myself in the doctor’s office examining my knees because I could barely move I was in so much pain.
Lesson One: Listen to your body.
Mind-body dualism isn’t just a philosophical mandate. It is a real struggle between the two. Sometimes your mind gives up first. Sometimes your body does. I’ve had to become a bit of a peace-maker between the two. And between my own body and my own mind, let me just assure you– I am really stubborn in every aspect of myself.
I had to start getting a little smarter about training. Bought a training book and started a ‘schedule.’ This ‘schedule’ to my friends here means ‘Emily is boring’– but I press on with my goals and hang out on my off-day. Yes. Just one. I’ve had to attack the aspects in my life all at once. It isn’t like quitting one bad habit, it is a complete revolution in your life to change behaviors (who really wants to get up BEFORE work to work out, just to go workout after work? and who ever wants to give up a cocktail or pizza? Those are wonderful!). And it has been quite a struggle. Your entire life is turned upside down because everything goes into it. If you want your body to function at a high-capacity, you have to baby it! Feeding time is important. You better put the little one to bed early and be careful of all influences! Athletes must make wonderful parents.
Lesson two: Guilt won’t make you stronger.
As much I would hate myself after caving in and having a burger I was desperately craving, the self-loathing I felt days after did absolutely nothing to keep me fit (and the result of over-training at the gym meant incredible pain and soreness where I’d have to miss more workouts…). There will always be two types of people in your life: those who support your goals and those who will do everything in their power to bring you down. I’ve been called crazy, wrong, ridiculous, and obsessive by people when they see/hear about my training discipline. You will have your family think the only reason you’re losing weight is through starvation (I eat a LOT of food, for the record). There will be nay-sayers everywhere trying to add more guilt to your platter. But you decide what to consume. You decide what sticks. In the end, the juicy, green-chile cheeseburger is probably exactly what my body needed in lieu of how much yogurt, salad, protein shakes, and veggies I put through it. I’ve accepted ‘un-healthy’ food as a special occasion mentality. I had a crazy day at work the other day and ate two pieces of pizza. I don’t remember anything tasting that good in a long time!
Lesson Three: ruts are dangerous, but every road has them.
Workout ruts. Our bodies work in cycles, sure. And maintaining momentum is an incredibly difficult thing to do. But ruts are big, wide, deep, narrow, hidden, and lurking. They happen. These past two weeks have been the most difficult to make myself work out. I just want to sleep– and maybe take a nap. So I threw the traditional monkey wrench in my workout plans and started looking at other ways to get in some training without boring myself into being burnt-out. Did you know how much strength training you can do with a medicine ball?!
This morning was a continuance of the past two weeks. I just had a fantastic date last night and above all did NOT want to go workout. I just got back from my first workout today of 26 miles cycling and have my swim training here soon. My muscles are tingling with excitement and knowing September 9th is coming closer and closer makes me nervous and extremely excited to compete in my first triathlon.
It’s not easy. It is NOT at all what I expected!! I have so much more respect for athletes across the country (great timing with the Olympics, no?). But even if I am trying harder (or my favorite TriHarder phrase), the goal is to own this triathlon and not let it own me. I am not a slave to this goal– but doing it because it sounds terrifying and difficult. Oh, and the high of hearing the crowds cheer as you are putting your body through so much, just because you can.
TriHarder. If I can do it, you certainly can!