Back in the Swing of Things

This week was the first week I have followed a structured training plan since Canberra 70.3 in mid-December. Having that month off makes me appreciate how good it is to have some structure and direction in my training, more so as my training needs to fit around other personal commitments – classes and time on and off the tennis court as assistant coach to the University of Toledo women’s team.

I often pack several bags to allow me the flexibility to live out of my car all day, essential when my schedule looks something like:

7:00am-7:50am Tennis Team Conditioning

8:00am-9.15am Class

9.30am-10.45am Swim

12:00pm- 3:30pm Tennis Coaching/Practice Sessions

4:00pm-4:50pm Run

7:00pm- 8:00pm Tennis Coaching/Practice Sessions

8:30pm-9:15pm Stretch, Massage etc.

As you can see, after I eat and travel, there isn’t much time to lounge around. It is easy for me to lack time for basic things such as haircuts. For this, hopefully I can be forgiven. Luckily I have a great sponsor in Every Man Jack that keeps my personal hygiene at an acceptable level.

I am happy to be committed to a sport that I love and count myself lucky be studying exercise physiology and working with the tennis team at Toledo. As the old saying goes, if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life. With that said I am off to pack my bags for another big day tomorrow.

Getting Back Into Training

Athletes take breaks from training and competing for a number of reasons. Some are by choice and others are forced by way of injury or illness. Returning to training from a break is one of the toughest things an athlete can do. It requires a mix of experience, patience and trust to be done effectively.

After getting the all clear from the doctor to get back into it, I was faced with the tough task of returning to training after doing nothing for almost a month. As you consider training after some time off, it is easy to be filled with negative thoughts. Feelings of anxiousness can often stem from thoughts of being overweight, out of shape, behind the competition or short on time. These thoughts make it easy to panic and start doing too much before you are ready. This is a golden ticket to poor performance and a huge injury risk likely leading to more time off.

Thoughts similar to these crossed my mind as I considered how to tackle getting back into my training. Thankfully I have a great coach that I have a lot of trust in. I also have a huge belief in myself as an athlete. For these reasons I was able to relax despite constantly seeing updates from triathletes recapping the thousands of miles they put in last year. I have huge goals for 2014 so I am eager to get back into the full swing of training. I also know that in order to reach these goals, I need to stay healthy. The first box to tick in staying healthy is ensuring you don’t do too much too soon. I found it extremely beneficial to remind myself of this as my training got underway.

As I started logging a few miles, I could tell I had lost fitness and was behind where I would be in an ideal world. This can be extremely frustrating for athletes to deal with as it feels like a lot of the work they have done in the past has gone down the drain. I had similar feelings, but I also knew that I was in much better shape than I was at the same time last year. This is the name of the game for improvement in endurance sports, consistency and progression year after year. If I start every year in better shape than the one previous, I am doing the right things.

With these thoughts in mind, I was able to knock out my first week of training doing about 8 hours total. This is obviously much lower than what I would expect my training to be, but it is a stepping stone to having a successful year. I am looking forward to getting back into some structured training next week and seeing the fitness quickly return.

In the meantime, I have been undergoing a lot of tests on my heart that have all come back clear. This is a huge relief to me as I was extremely worried my heart may have been causing some of my issues. It is frustrating still being in the dark as to what has been the cause of my problem but I am thankful that my legs, heart and mind are in good shape. After all, I believe these are the three things that drive you to success in anything you do.

If the New Year marks a return to training, or the beginning of a new chapter, remember to be patient, trust yourself and use your experience to be the best you can be in 2014.

A Triathlete’s Health

The topic for this blog unfortunately comes from some recent events that have kept me from training and allowed me plenty of time to think.

A triathlete knows their body. Probably more than most other people out there. If you ask a triathlete their height and weight, I’m certain most will be able to tell you without a second thought. A lot of triathletes are just as likely to rattle off their body fat percentage, resting heart rate and VO2 max. Given how well triathletes know their body, they are also far more likely to know when something is wrong. If you notice something is going on with your body, get it checked.

I feel most triathletes are less likely to get their body checked because they are supposed to be the height of fitness. “I can run all day, I eat healthy and I take care of my body. Nothing could be going wrong with me.” That is what I felt and I convinced myself there was nothing wrong. The only place that led me was to the emergency room. After fainting two days after my race in Canberra and developing a slight pain in my chest that I wrote off as a muscular problem, I still put off getting checked out until I returned to the States convincing myself that I probably fainted due to dehydration.

After the pain didn’t subside and I spent a day doing my best not to faint, I knew I had to go to the ER. My trip to visit the hospital wasn’t as bad as I had expected. Even my fear of needles subsided given I knew I was getting the help I needed. A few hours and five or six tests later, the doctors still had no clue what was the cause but cleared me to leave the hospital with orders to visit a cardiologist. I have now undertaken another test and am waiting for the results on Friday with the hopes of getting this taken care of in the next few days.

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Always look on the bright side of life..

The time off has given me plenty of time to think. I have come to realize how much I love sport and how much I love to be out training and racing. I know at times training is a grind but it is important to be thankful for the good health that allows you to be training at all. When I begin training again and the time comes that I am struggling to get out of bed, I will draw on this thought.

When you do encounter setbacks as an athlete, it is important to look at the positives. I am grateful that this has occurred directly after the last race of my season and I have plenty of time to recover and train for the season ahead. I have also been able to use this time to enjoy time with my family and begin preparing all my equipment for the upcoming year. When setbacks occur there is always a silver lining and you will be strengthened when times get tough in the future. I am looking forward to drawing on these memories as I am digging deep in races throughout 2014.

Looking forward to seeing you out there. Stay healthy and listen to your body.