Triathlon Notes: Goals

I felt very guilty for not getting this blog post written before the triathlon in August. I was worried that the topic would seem “not applicable” after the big event.

Actually, I’ve learned that it’s even more applicable now. Goals, I’ve come to appreciate, can be both frustrating and motivating, but are most useful when they usher something into your life you never knew you wanted or needed.

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This article now lives on The Fullness of Life blog.

Triathlon Notes: Completion

I sit here writing this blog post — my first in two weeks — as a triathlete. Yes, it’s true. I completed my first triathlon just over a week ago.

It already feels like a distant memory, but one I’m so proud of. One of my friends commented a few days after the race, “Your energy is completely different. You’re holding yourself differently.”

Of course I am. I’m now a triathlete.

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This article now lives on The Fullness of Life blog.

Triathlon Notes: Refueling

When I started this journey, my only commitments were to workout 5-7 days per week, depending on that week’s training schedule, and to not diet. After all, if I was exercising over an hour a day, I was not going to stress over food.

This strategy worked for the first six weeks or so. I never felt bad about eating cake, my body was responding beautifully to the exercise — barring a few Advil-dependent nights — and I made almost every training session. Don’t get me wrong, I would have followed this strategy indefinitely. I loved it; my body, apparently less so. I began craving vegetables and orange juice. Yep, you heard me. My body was taking over, demanding more of me and the deal I had made myself only a few weeks before.

Sleep also became elusive. I’ve always been a fall-into-bed-for-9-solid-hours girl and now I was waking up in the night. Bored. Days where I hadn’t trained were worse.

I was also having trouble with my knees. They weren’t injured, just sore. After a longer-than-normal after run stretch one day, I realized that my knees no longer hurt. After some experimenting, I figured out that my knees hurt because my hips were tight. Great, something else to deal with…

Mindful Refueling is Key
This is when I really started looking at the importance of refueling. In triathlon terms, this means nutrition, sleep, recovery days, and — for me — yoga.

I still refuse to diet but I do try to get food into my mouth every 2 hours and have started keeping fruit and vegetables ready to go. Why every two hours? Timing became more important as training progressed. I didn’t like eating within a few hours of exercise but was ravenous afterwards, which was around 9:30 at night. If I didn’t eat, I wouldn’t sleep. I now know that eating within half an hour of finishing training is integral to jump starting recovery and so I’m careful to have something afterwards. It’s really helped — I’m not nearly as sore the next morning and have fewer “please don’t make me train today” days.

Sleep is still not perfect, but I’m having more good nights. I think as I get better at timing my nutrition, this will continue to improve.

As for my knees, I have discovered that a once a week yoga class seems to be the ticket. I don’t always get to class on Sunday — especially if I have a long bike ride that day — but knowing that there is a solution is very helpful. On weeks where I know I won’t make the class or that my knees start getting sore again, I do some of the yoga hip stretches on my own. They’ve made a huge difference.

Refueling is Key in Business Too
The concept of refueling is not unique to training — after all, there really is nothing new under the sun. In business, we call it personal or career development. I’m referring to anything that upgrades your skills, keeps you inline with technology advances, or injects creativity back into the mix.

Like with training for a triathlon, refueling is integral to business. Ever hit the creative wall and had nothing left for your client? Or perhaps you’re dragging your heals on learning social media. Or PayPal. Or a database program.

These things — when not addressed — can hold back your business and limit its success. Take some time today to block out some skills development time. Maybe you usually learn things on the fly, when you need them. That’s great — and a strategy I’ve used for years — but it’s also important to find some time and energy to go back and review what you know and what else you should know about that topic. Sometimes, that little extra effort will be the difference between getting by and really understanding what you’re doing.

Go For It!
I usually block out half days. If I watch a webinar and read some articles, that’s a half day. If I attend a session, that’s usually a half day with commuting (and lunch, don’t forget lunch.) And have fun! This should be like going to day camp, not cramming for a university final. Good luck!

Triathlon Notes: Barriers

I’m still surprised, eight weeks into it, that I’m training for a triathlon. It will be a short one, but — nonetheless, a triathlon. I have never thought of myself as athletic, my least favourite place in the world is the gym, and I think running is only something that’s done to survive.

Well, the gym is still somewhere I only go under extreme duress (running tracks are now on that list too), but I’ve learned over the last two months that running is only as bad as you decide it is and that athleticism is a frame of mind. Am I ready for the Olympics? Absolutely not. I do, however, believe that my body will respond to what I ask of it and, for that, I am grateful.

Barriers are Man Made

I was recently reading an article in The Walrus, The Race Against Time, that looks at how runner’s perceptions of what they can and cannot accomplish dictate how they perform. Change their perception and change the outcome.

I was most interested in article author Alex Hutchinson’s anecdote of his own quest to break the 4 minute mile (or roughly 1500m in his case.) In his third year of university, he consistently hit the wall of 4:02 — ironically, also John Landy’s barrier (the man who tried six times to break 4 minutes, declared it impossible, and then broke it just seven weeks after Roger Bannister first accomplished it back in 1954.) It was at a meet in Quebec where a francophone timer was calling out splits in English for him. As it turns out, the timer took a few seconds to translate and then say the time, enough of a lag for Hutchinson to believe he was running faster than he really was without extra effort. Deciding that he was feeling good enough to really push the last few laps, Hutchinson finished his mile in 3:52, 10 seconds faster than his best time.

Once he’d broken 4 minutes, Hutchinson’s next two races were finished in 3:49 and 3:44, the latter actually qualifying him for a spot on the Olympic team. In just three runs, he had gone from consistently, repeatedly hitting a barrier to qualifying to compete with the world’s best athletes.

Barriers are Just Beliefs

I think the reason this anecdote rings so true for me is because I have been very committed to my belief that I was not athletic. The first week, while I lived on Advil and wondered why the heck I had agreed to this, I still held tight to it. It wasn’t until the third week when I realized with horror that I was antsy while finishing up my work for the day, waiting to get into the pool. I was excited to be out there pushing myself. I was already seeing my endurance improve, my reliance on pain relievers reduce to almost nil, and — blessedly — my clothes already fitting more loosely. I also loved telling people that I was “training.”

Today, I sit here looking forward to my bike training session this evening. My training partners and I did our first triathlon time trial last week and we all finished the distances. Four weeks away from the race, we already had the confidence that we could more than complete the triathlon. Suddenly, our goal changed from mere completion to getting decent times. We now train with performance in mind.

Barriers in Business

We’ve all hit a barrier at one time or another: What if no one wants my product? I can’t ask that much — no one will pay. I’d love to come up with a great campaign but I’m just not the creative type.

These are just beliefs. What is holding you back? Take a look at what you believe about yourself and your business. How can you change it? You don’t have to commit to a triathlon; often just a perception tweak can eliminate a seemingly huge barrier.

Ask yourself what you could do if you didn’t have that belief, that barrier? What is that belief offering you? You’re holding onto it for a reason. Is it protecting you from failure, humiliation, something else?

A very wise woman, Mary Ellen Sanajko of Conduit Coaching once told me, “Candrina, thank your fear for letting you know there may be potential trouble up ahead. Tell it that you’re prepared for whatever comes along and that you’ve got it from here.”

I use this frequently. Let’s face it, owning a business can be scary. Agreeing to a triathlon with a non-athletic body is terrifying. Getting through life’s challenges can sometimes seem overwhelming.

But, it’s okay. Let your fear know that it can take a break. After all, you’re prepared. You’ve got it from here.