Training, Unsolicited Advice

A call to stop being so damn hard on ourselves

I haven’t blogged in a while. Despite my New Year’s Resolution to “write more,” I just simply haven’t had the free time between work and Ironman training.

I was recently promoted at work (yay!). While promotions are awesome, early feelings of pride and accomplishment quickly converted to stress and anxiety as I realize the implications of having more responsibility, more exposure to leadership, etc. More than anything else, it’s been a struggle to navigate my new role and still make it seem like I (at least somewhat) have my shit together.

To use a swim metaphor, it’s like just when I figure out how to tread water to stay afloat, someone comes and hands me a 20 pound weight to hold over my head and am back to almost drowning. Essentially, I’m doing too much to really feel like I’m doing anything well. I shared this with one of my mentors and asked for advice on how to do better.

Her response was this: “I think you’ve got it wrong and actually you are kicking ass and we, as women, are just way too hard on ourselves.”

Oh. Damn.

Really?

Maybe she was kind of right. I was probably promoted for a reason… was probably given more responsibility for a reason. No one has called me out on not doing a good job in my new role.

Hm….

I started thinking about this and wondering about other areas of my life. Silly things that have been causing me stress for no reason.

Take this photo: 28472168_2100323953535974_5536323473011463419_n

This is a photo of me taken at the Outrival Racing training camp. It ended up getting picked up by Outrival and QT2 Systems and shared on their social media accounts. This could have been really cool but all I could think while looking at the photo on my phone screen is that I’m nearly 10 pounds over “race weight,” that I don’t look like an endurance athlete… blah, blah blah… all the horrible things we think about our bodies from time to time for no good reason.

The thing is: I was one of the strongest runners at that camp. The fact that I was even at that camp and the fact that I’m training for an Ironman 10-12 hours a week shows that I have a pretty decent level of fitness. So really,  that kind of self-loathing about an extra few pounds is kind of crazy!

And obviously I’m not alone. Here are just a few examples of conversations with my girlfriends from the past few weeks:

  • I could seriously be 10 pounds lighter if I didn’t drink beer. (Yeah, maybe… but then you wouldn’t drink beer and that would be so sad and boring)
  • I only worked out 4 days this week… that’s pathetic. (No, you’re working full time and going to nursing school at night and it’s amazing that you find any time to work out)
  • I’m going to show up for work my first day and they’re going to immediately fire me when they realize how unqualified I am. (They hired you knowing your experience and decided you were the best person for the job.)

You get it. This topic is so pervasive in women’s conversation it is almost cliché to even write a blog. But for real.  Maybe it’s time we actually start to cut the crazy talk and cut ourselves some slack.

So I took that quote from my mentor and have used it as mantra these past few weeks. Here it is for you to keep in your back pocket for whenever you need it.

Cut-the-self-doubt-Youre

 

In endless support for the sisterhood …on International Women’s Day and all the days!

Kalyn

Beer, Training

Negativity,*!@#!$ Tendinitis and the Trillium Beer Garden.

I like to think of myself as a generally positive person. Not the… in-your-face, everything-happens-for-a-reason type of positive. More the pragmatic… “sh*t happens but it will all work out” type of positive. You know what I’m talking about, right?

So when my Achilles Tendinitis flared up 3-4 weeks ago for the first time in years, I was okay with taking it in stride. As my Coach reminded me, now is the time to rest and heal; focus on my swim; take a needed break from running, etc. I’ve been a good little athlete: avoided running; prioritized stretching and strengthening; convinced my husband to torture me with an achilles “sports massage” almost nightly.

Because of all of this, I was really ready for my test run today (20 minutes, super easy) to go well. But it didn’t. It still hurt… so much that I had to cut it 2 miles in.

Pragmatic, positive Kalyn reminded myself that it’s only been three weeks; that it’s cold  and my achilles is going to be extra stiff in this weather; that injuries (this one in particular) take time to heal and Ironman Lake Placid is still 8 months away.

But then Negative Nancy (that bitch) swept in: “How am I going to ever get to marathon level run-volume if I can’t even run 2 miles?” “Swimming and biking alone is no way to work off these holiday cocktails and cookies.”  “I’m getting so out of shape.” Wah. wah. wah.

Basically Nancy won. She took over my mind like whoa and I spent the rest of the afternoon sulking through social media, being a brat to my husband, contemplating quitting triathlon all together (such a drama queen). When the hubs said he was going to the gym, I begrudgingly agreed to go with him….I literally rolled my eyes pulling on my bathing suit on and grimaced as I got into the pool.

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GoPro birthday present FTW.

But something changed as I started to go through my swim drills. I actually felt really good in the water and couldn’t believe how quickly and easily I was reaching the wall. I checked my Garmin to confirm: yes, this was a good pace!

HOLD UP! Maybe I wasn’t so out of shape! Maybe this whole “focusing on swim technique for the winter” thing was actually working!

I met my husband in the lobby feeling significantly more perked up.

“Should we grab a beer at Trillium?”

Um… yup. With good beer, the answer is always yes. 

So we did. For those not familiar (i.e. non-craft beer peeps): Trillium makes some of best beer. No joke: their double IPAs are ridiculous. Awesomely enough, they just opened a seasonal, beer garden at the old Substation in downtown Roslindale… just a few blocks from our house.

The Garden was filled with fellow yuppies, buzzed off 8.5% beers and holiday cheer: Exactly our kind of scene. 😉

Trillium Garden
Dialed In & Farnsworth St

I had the Dialed In DIPA…So freaking crisp and juicy that I had to get a second. And somewhere on the way to my own beer buzz, I decided I’d stick with triathlon a little while longer.

The moral of the story is that injury still sucks but there’s nothing that a decent swim and even better beer can’t make better.  So I guess I’ll continue to practice patience and positivity to ring in the New Year!

Happy Holidays All!

Cheers,

K

Training

Acknowledging my ignorance: My Nutrition Consult with The Core Diet

You ever have one of those conversations where you realize halfway through what an ignorant dummy you’ve been?

That was essentially my experience during my nutrition consult with  The Core Diet this weekend.

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“Back in the day” finishing a leg of the 4X400 at UVM (2010).

By way of background, “back in the day” I ran D1 track while earning my degree in nutrition and dietetics at the University of Vermont. I was a sprinter in college but spent the next 5-6 years training for some longer races, including the 2013 Boston Marathon and most recently a half ironman (70.3) this past fall. All of this is to say that I thought I knew a thing or two about nutrition and training despite some lived experiences suggesting otherwise – e.g. debilitating muscle cramps, GI issues (oh, I could blog for days about the runner trots), essentially crawling (dehydrated and under-fueled) the last 6 miles to the finish line of 70.3… etc.

So, I finally figured when I signed up for my first full Ironman (IM Lake Placid 2018!!) that I needed to actually get my sh*t together. I was beyond pumped for my initial nutrition consult that came with my 1:1 coaching package from QT2 Systems.

Our conversation went something like this…

Me: I know everything about eating healthfully because I went to school for nutrition  (I’m paraphrasing….and I hope I didn’t sound this arrogant) 

RD: How do you usually fuel during long runs or rides?

Me: Hmm… I use Infinit sometimes—like when I have it—but I’m out of it now… so usually just water and a Clif bar or Gu or something.

When was the last time I fueled or even brought hydration for a run??

RD: What do your longest training days consist of right now?

Me: Two to three hours. I’m doing a two-hour trail run this weekend.

RD: You need to be fueling for something like that. How are you doing that?

Me: Ehh… I hadn’t thought about it honestly.  It’s pretty cold out…I’ll probably just carry a water bottle.

This sounds incredibly silly as I’m saying it out loud.

RD: You should have more than water and probably need more than one water bottle’s worth.

It goes on. We start talking about electrolytes and glucose and all things I “knew” or at least thought I knew, but definitely forgot how to apply. Namely, you need to fuel for long workouts (duh!) and there are ways to do that are better than others to keep your training on track over the long – term.

Long story short, RD Jaime (who’s a serious badass, by the way) dropped a whole world of wisdom on me during that 30-minute call. I swallowed (pun intended) my ego and and realized that sports nutrition for endurance is it’s own crazy discipline that I apparently know nothing about.

I picked up a new CamelBak (because I hate my handheld water bottle and fuel belts) plus some electrolyte tabs and put my nutrition refresher crash-course to the test on my two-hour trail run.  I’m pleased to say that it WENT AWESOME! Yes, I ran slower than normal (coach’s orders) but I felt confident that I could easily run another two hours without bonking… and what’s better than that? I actually felt so great and energized afterwards that I went for a second hike with my family later that day.

Training day: CHECK.

Time with family: CHECK!

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ That does not always work out so well!

Committing to Ironman training has meant surrendering to the idea that I don’t know everything, or even close to everything. It’s been about finding a team of experts that know their sh*t. It’s been about talking to other athletes, about listening more, about trying new things… and eventually I might figure it out. This weekend’s conversation got me one step closer.

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There is more than one water bottle’s worth in here and it didn’t bother me at all to carry. 🙂

 

Training

Rest and a run to take me out of my funk

Like so many others after the New Year, I started 2017 with a crazy amount of motivation to train. I had signed up for my first half Iron and started working with a coach for training for the first time.

I trained every day, rarely missing a workout. My “tempo” run pace quickly dropped from around 8:30 min/mile to 7:30 min/mile. I bought a new Trek Speed Concept (not a bad whip for a bad a newbie) and a power meter and watched my watts increase. My first race of the year (despite racing like a complete idiot) I took 3rd overall for women and won my age group at the HITS Hudson Valley Olympic.

That was July.

Then life happened.

Luckily most were good life-things but still life-things that needed to be prioritized, often times over training. (1) I was promoted at work, (2) we adopted a puppy (she’s the best), (3) my only sister got married, etc.

 

Some were bad life-things. I had two bad bike crashes in one month, the second ending with a broken hand just two weeks out from the 70.3 I’d been training for all year.

All that is to say that somewhere along the line, I forgot that I do this shit for fun. Training became a stressor instead of stress reliever: another obligatory responsibility that I’d grown to resent.

So, after my last race I took about 6 weeks off from “training”. I worked out when I felt like it, and I didn’t beat myself up when I didn’t. I gained a few pounds and didn’t sweat it. I mostly just focused on letting myself heal.

This week I started back up again. With a new coach from QT2, who I love, my training theme for the next few months is durability. I’m keeping my training effort very aerobic to work explicitly on building endurance (as a former college sprinter, my slow-twitch fibers are the ones that need the most work).

All of this is to say that I am doing a lot workouts at lower effort.  Lots of Zone 1 runs and rides, lots of swims where I’m not caring about the pace at all and just focusing on technique.

And you know what? It’s been awesome. This weekend I went out for a 90 minute easy trail run and genuinely enjoyed every minute of it. Loving that run took me out of my funk. I’m not sure I can remember the last time I found myself smiling during a “work out”. I’m pumped to do speed work again. Waking up at 5:45 to get on the trainer isn’t my favorite but I’m doing it and do not feel like I’m acquiring massive sleep debt along the way.

Ironman Lake Placid is 9 months away. My prep race for it is Ironman 70.3 Raleigh in June. I have plenty of time to stress about training as race day grows nearer… but it’s too early in the journey to sweat the small stuff. For now, I’m just pumped to be excited to train again.

P.S. Easier pace runs means more runs with Evie – so she is very happy too. 🙂