I promise, this is not an existential question.
Several years ago, I decided I would celebrate my 50th birthday in September 2015 by completing an Olympic-distance triathlon. For those who are unfamiliar, or who have some how escaped my nearly-continual blather about multi-sport over the past three years, an Olympic-distance triathlon is a 1500-meter swim, a 40-km bike ride, and a 10-km run. All in a row. On the same day. By yourself.
At the time, I weighed approximately sixteen stone. (I’m 5’6″.) At my heaviest, I weighed nearly eighteen stone (I stopped weighing myself after 17.5 stone). I’d lost a stone or two cycling a lot. I commuted bike a few days a week, and I went on long rides on the weekend. Every year, I’d set a goal of riding a century (100 miles) by the end of the season. Every year, boredom or over-use injuries would stop me from getting there. One year, in mid-October, I was on a long ride. At 76 miles, my rear tire flatted. I gave up and called for a ride. Twice, I’ve ridden 76 miles in one day; that’s the closest I come to my century ride.
At the time I decided to take up triathlon, I viewed running as something one does to avoid getting too fat in the winter. (Clearly, at 16 stone, I was not as successful at reaching that goal as I thought I’d be.) And I didn’t swim. I flat-out disliked swimming.
There were a lot of ups and downs, which is getting me – albeit, slowly – to my answering the question posed by the title of this entry. In Summer 2015, I was lucky enough to have a coach. In the “interview” process – it’s as important for the coach to know she wants to work with an athlete as it is for the athlete to know she wants to work with the coach – I wrote very detailed descriptions of the events I’d raced in during the previous season: what went well, what went not-so well, what things I think I could change, as well as my challenges with cycling and trying to train around commuting by bike.
Throughout training, I wrote lengthy emails describing workouts, what I hated, what I liked. CC commented that it was helpful, because it gave her a good picture of what was going on in my head.
We both miss those emails! And that’s why I’m doing this blog. I found writing about the workouts to be helpful for me. I keyed in on specifics where I could improve. When I tried something new during a workout or a “B” race, I had a good explanation for why I’d do it again during a race that mattered or why I would never ever ever do that again ever.
I’m now training for my first half-marathon – it’s in five & a half days – and I’ve decided to go back to my endless blather about my workouts. If you’re reading this, here are few things you should know:
- I misspell a lot of words. Prior to email becoming my primary means of communication, I didn’t misspell as many words. Over the last decade, I’ve developed the disturbing tendency to write a homophone instead of the word I wanted. Both disturb me deeply. I can be a little sensitive about it. If you see that I’ve edited an entry repeatedly, it’s likely because I keep seeing typos.
- Unless I specifically say I’m looking for advice, I’m most likely not interested in advice. If you give me advice, do not be surprised if I:
- Mock your advice, because it’s wildly inappropriate given my chronic health conditions and previous injuries or it has zero empirical evidence to support its efficacy,
- Ignore that you offered the advice, because I recognize you were trying to be helpful, or,
- Tell you to keep your opinion to yourself because while I do not doubt that what you suggested worked for you I think it is incredibly bad advice absent medical supervision.
- However, if you are a professional, I’m far more tolerant of unsolicited advice, but I’m still likely to ignore you because I’m hella stubborn.
- I now weigh about 14 stone. An ideal racing weight would be around 11 stone. I’m working toward that, but if I never get there, that’s okay. As long as I’m strong, healthy, and I can ride my bike, I’ll be happy.
- I am not a nutritionist, a coach, or a physical therapist. I’m a chubby, middle-aged woman with a full-time desk job, hypertension, a strong family history of Type II diabetes who doesn’t stretch enough or do enough strength training or torture sessions with foam rollers. You probably should not emulate anything I do.
Thanks for reading!