Losing focus, running out of steam

I’ve been, again, my usual procrastinating self. “I have plenty of time, the race is only in x weeks! I can take a couple of days/weeks off surely, I’ve worked pretty hard so far, I deserve a bit of a break, right?”

Ugh.

Will I ever learn?

I did the same thing last year, thinking I could complete a triathlon with just a couple of visits to the pool. “There’s still time!” And then the pool changes their opening hours during the summer (or closes altogether), and then you can’t fit it in your schedule… and we all saw how I made a complete sinking fool of myself on race day.

This Sunday, I should have been running my first half-marathon. But it won’t happen. I took a little bit of a break about 5-6 weeks ago, but I’ve never been able to get back into the rhythm. Plagued by headaches, runner’s trots, dehydration, muscle cramps. Laziness. Frustration. I can’t seem to be able to get passed 12km running nowadays, while back in March, I was able to complete a long run beyond 15km the day after riding my bike for 70km with strong head winds. I’ve had my blood checked, everything is A-OK. So there are no other possible explanations for my legs cramps, except poor posture, poor mechanics and basically, my body saying no.

I can’t help but feeling angry at myself for falling off the wagon again. For losing focus, for erasing all the progress and efforts of the first months of this year with this stupid break.

In a way, I know I needed this break. I was beginning to drag myself to my training sessions, not enjoying them for one bit. Because I had to train. It had become a chore, a job, not something I getting any pleasure from. But now I see my goals approaching, and there’s no way out of this: I have to let them go, accept failure, regroup and find new goals. And work hard to achieve them.

So I will run on Sunday, but not the 21,1km I was dreaming of. It sucks, because this race was in my hometown, but it’s ok. I’ll participate next year. Instead, I’ll probably go for the 10K, or maybe even just run an easy 5K, for the heck of it. And I’ve picked a new date for my first half-marathon: 21 September 2014.

As for triathlons, I had 4 races planned for this summer, but I think I’ll keep just one: the one nearby my hometown. It’s a tough one, with 750m swimming, but I love the area where the race is taking place and because it’s so close to home, it just feels right.

And this also means getting back to the gym and focus on muscle strength and endurance (especially my core), something I’ve neglected a lot these past months.

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Looking back at 2013, and my goals for 2014

2012 was the year when I made an important decision to save my life: I had gastric bypass surgery.

2013 was the year when I built the foundations for my new lifestyle. Eat better, exercise more. I started from zero fitness to finishing my first triathlon. Oh, I’m still far from an athlete, but I like to think I made giant leaps of progress to become an awesome version of myself.

I started by hiring a personal trainer to keep me motivated, to keep me in check (nothing like having to answer the question “How often did you train this week and what did you do?” to actually make you go train on your own and keep going!), to teach me how to train, and to get a jump-start towards an active lifestyle. I owe him a lot. Even if we’ve now parted ways, the effect he had on me still hasn’t worn off 😉 I can still hear his voice in my head shouting COME ON!! when I want to give up, and I can still hear him ask me the dreaded question every week! And when I see him at the gym, he actually makes sure to ask how I’ve been doing and how my training is going…

Then, there were my goals. One in particular, a dream, a fantasy of mine for several years already: finishing a triathlon. Looking back, I know I didn’t train sufficiently when it comes to swimming, and I was still not very fit, but I did cross that finish line. I finished dead last, but I finished. Instead of demotivating me, it only encouraged me to get fitter and get better.

So, what did I do in 2013? Let’s see…

  • 8 x 5K races
  • 2 x 10K races
  • 2 x obstacle/mud races
  • 1 x super-sprint triathlon

Not bad for a first year!

And what are my goals for 2014?

  • Finish a half-marathon in May
  • Finish a sprint triathlon in August
  • Focus on 10K races instead of 5K races*
  • Learn how to swim the front crawl

* I choose to focus on 10K races this year rather than 5K’s, mostly as an extra challenge to myself. And not to sound like a snob (because really, I’m not!), but I noticed I’m taking this racing thing way too seriously now to genuinely enjoy doing 5K’s (generally more crowded and family oriented), and I just hate having to slalom around people walking, even though I’m not running much faster than them, and feeling stressed about how this slaloming will affect my end time. I’m not saying I’ll never do 5K’s ever again, but I will choose them carefully, i.e. smaller-scaled events.

Today is Blue Monday, apparently the most depressing day of the year, with our New Year’s resolutions slowly fading away. Apparently. Because I’m happy to report I’ve been going to the swimming pool 2 to 3 times per week since the beginning of the year, I’ve officially started my half-marathon preparation, and I’ve also stepped on my bike a few times already. Things are going smoothly! And do you know what helps? Getting new gear to keep you motivated. Look at what the hubs gave me for my birthday! 😀

5595_10151949104842585_134587233_nYes!! A beautiful Forerunner 910XT. I am SO happy. I’m tracking everything on Garmin Connect and I love seeing my progress! I already owned a Forerunner 305 and I was really happy with it, but I was really missing the swimming training tracking component the 910XT has to offer. My dad is going to inherit of my 305, I know he’ll give it a good home!

I think I’m well on my way to a fantastic 2014. If I can stay injury-free and if I can manage to keep my iron-deficiency anemia under control, I should be able to achieve my goals.

Wish me luck! 😉

I’m a triathlete!

After years of signing up for the race but never showing up, after months of training, last Sunday was D-Day: my first triathlon! (and not the last, I believe ;)) In the days leading up to the event I was a ball of nerves, questioning my reasons for singing up for this race, hating myself for not going swimming more often… and being afraid I was going to forget to bring something on race day. Now that the race is done and over with, here’s my first ever triathlon race report!

The Race

It was cold, rainy, windy. Not the kind of weather conditions I was hoping for my first race, but I just had to deal with it. This also meant I had to read up last-minute ‘racing in the rain’ tips online. I packed some plastic bags to protect my gear in transition, and hoped for the best! I signed up for the super-sprint distance, 250m swim / 10km bike (which turned out to be 11.5 km according to my Garmin) / 2.5km run.

The Swim

From the start it was clear I wasn’t going to finish the swim quickly. I stayed at the back of the pack, but I lost a lot of energy trying to keep up and somehow panicked a bit. About half-way, I was ready to call it quits, I was dead tired, out of breath, out of air. But I decided to keep going. I switched to a backstroke to get my heart rate to slow down, but also to calm myself down. I came out of the water several minutes after everyone else, under a thunder of applause from the spectators – so it is true that the people finish last always get the biggest cheers!

T1

T1 went pretty swiftly, but I was still struggling with catching my breath from the swim. I just decided to take my time. I was happy I protected my biking shoes and my helmet/Garmin/headband from the rain!

The Bike

The bike is my strongest and I was quite proud of myself when I managed to catch up with the girls before me, and even pass three of them! I gave everything I had on the bike, I rode an average of 27 km/h — I never kept such a high average speed ever during training!

T2

All was not lost, I could still avoid finish DFL (dead effing last) so I did as fast as I could in T2. I had trouble putting my running socks on. The combination tight socks/wet feet isn’t a good one. I have to reconsider my strategy for next time…

The Run

I wasted a lot of energy in the swim, gave everything else I had on the bike, so there wasn’t much left to give during the run. I had to alternate run/walk a couple of times, even though I’ve run the distance very often in the past without the need to walk. And unfortunately, the girls I passed on the bike passed me swiftly during the run, confirming my finish in the last place, MINUTES after everyone else!

The Summary

It’s clear I need to learn how to swim, and I also have to learn to pace myself and keep some energy for that pesky run at the end! But it was a FUN day, despite the rain, and it only motivated me to train harder for next year. This is my first triathlon, but not my last. And as some athlete friends rightfully reminded me:

DFL (dead effing last) is still better than DNF (did not finish), which is still better than DNS (did not start).

So yes, I’ve earned myself the title of triathlete. Regardless of how slow I was.

Récemment mis à jour5

Living an active lifestyle

I’ve led a very sporadic ‘active lifestyle’ from my youth to my adult life. I’d be out and about cross-country skiing during the winter, but spend the summer sitting on my behind. I’d play organised sports for a couple of years, but then I’d sit on the couch for the next five. Lack of motivation, teenage rebellion, caught in the whirlwind of studying or working. There was always an excuse.

In 2007 and 2008, when I was actively trying to lose weight by dieting and exercising, I discovered sports I loved and started to actually enjoy exercising. But then weight stall frustration, stress, work and health problems became yet other excuses for not burning calories. And we all know what happened next: I put the weight back on, AND THEN SOME. Which led me to taking the difficult decision to go under the knife for gastric bypass in October 2012.

The weight is definitely coming off now, but I know I’m in this honeymoon period where weight loss almost magically happens without too much efforts. When this honeymoon period is over, I know I’ll have to be more vigilant at managing my caloric intake and the amount of calories I burn through exercise, otherwise I will re-gain. And I really don’t want to go there!

What do I need to do then? I need to live an active lifestyle, I need to make exercising part of my daily life — not for a summer, not for a year, but until the end of my days. But it’s not easy. There’s work, and commuting to and from work, there’s my other hobbies, there’s my wonderful husband, there’s household chores, etc. Making it all fit is really a challenge. I’m sacrificing my other hobbies (I haven’t done any significant sewing for at least a year now), I’m setting clear boundaries in regards to work, and I’m trying to get the hubby to exercise with me, so at least it would count as quality time 😉

Lucky for me, I’m still in love with running, biking and swimming. I’m still enjoying my training sessions with my personal trainer. I’m still enjoying going to the gym. It hasn’t been easy lately because I’m suffering from anemia (happens often after gastric bypass) and my energy level is sub-zero, but I have to push through it. Otherwise, I’m going to find excuses again and I’ll end up on the couch.

The longest distance in any race is the six inches between your ears

I stumbled upon this quote yesterday, and there’s so much truth in it. And not only for marathoners or triathletes! We have to constantly fight this little voice in our heads that is telling us to give up, to stay on the couch, to be lazy, to push that training back to tomorrow, next week, next month, next year… And it’s hard. But it’s worth it.

With my first super-sprint triathlon only 3 months away now (gasp!), there’s no time for pushing back a training. I am going to the pool, I am going for a bike ride, and I am running. I’m not fast, I’m not ‘performing’, but I’m out there having fun doing it, and that’s the most important thing.

In my enthusiasm, I’ve even signed up for a 10K race in now less than 2 weeks! And I have a 5K race in June! And an 8K run in July! And my super-sprint triathlon in August! And today I signed up for a 10K in September! Having goals is what keeps me going. I don’t care if I finish last – I just want to finish 🙂

I’ll finish by inviting you to visit and like my Facebook page to get the latest updates on my workouts and my gear – because one thing I had to sacrifice lately is time for blogging 😉 I hope to see you there!

Dusting off old training equipments

Dusting off old training equipments

I bought this trainer a loooong time ago. 2009? 2010? I can’t remember. It was part of a New Year resolution, and I was happy I got it on sale in January at the time.

I never really used it, only a few times. I was seriously lacking the motivation and the energy to do anything serious with it.

But now, things have changed 😉 Or at least, I’l trying to make them change. I have this triathlon thing to train for, and I need to build up endurance. I don’t feel like sitting 1 hour+ on a bike at the gym (boring!), so until I can go ride outside, why not actually use the equipment I have at home? And watch a movie while I’m at it. Or just my favorite show.

I’m hoping I can retrieve my bike from storage today and install it on the trainer. One hour on this thing looks like an ideal Monday evening training to me 😉

Tri’-ing for a triathlon, again

Four years ago, almost at the same date, I signed up for my first triathlon. Unfortunately, I never managed to get the training and the preparation done, and in the end, I didn’t participate.

But it’s been nagging me ever since.

So I did it again. I signed up for my first super-sprint triathlon, to take place in August. I have 7 months to train and prepare. I should manage, right? I mean, I’m still busy building up my running with the Start to Run program, but in 7 months, I should be able to run 2.5km. I have yet to get on my bike, but I’ve been cycling at the gym and I’ll join spinning classes soon. And as soon as the weather gets better, I’ll hit the road with my bike, for sure. And 10km on the bike ain’t too bad. The biggest challenge, and my biggest weakness, is swimming. I suck at it, and the swimming pools in my area are not open when I would need them to be, so I’ll have to do wonders to make swimming training fit around my schedule. Anyway, if I want it enough, I can make it work, right? Even if that means going for a swim at 7:00 in the morning and get to the office later than usual. Or something.

I’ll have a chat with my personal trainer next Tuesday, to get advice on what muscle groups I should focus on when I’m training on my own at the gym, or at home. ‘Cause yeah, I’ve been assembling a cool mini gym at home. I love my pink stability ball 😉

Image

I’m still going to check out my triathlon training books, but advice from a pro cannot hurt. And it also gives us a focus for our personal training sessions: working out to get fit for my first triathlon! I’m excited just thinking about it 🙂

I’ll give the swimming pool a try this weekend, wish me luck!

Yes, I’m back!

Oh my, oh my, oh my. It’s been soooooooooo long since my last post, which makes me realise how long it was since the last time I did any sport-related activities.

But I am back. With new motivation and a new plan.

I know I’m incredibly late with this but THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH to all of you who voted for me last winter. I’m glad I could share this tale of a virgin athlete with you and that you found it interesting/inspirational/good enough to vote for me. So THANK YOU again!!

As I said, I’m back. Because I need to shed some pounds and because I don’t like the lumpy, lazy person I’ve become (again) over the past year. My fault, I’m the only one to blame. Yes, I was supposed to do all these races and even my first triathlon in July. But that didn’t happen. Lumpy lazy me decided not to go because lumpy lazy me didn’t train whatsoever since the middle of the winter.

To help with my fresh start, I signed up with a new gym. It’s actually brand new and it fits my needs much better than the old one in so many ways: more machines (no more waiting), more spinning classes (at times when I can actually go, too!), closer to my house (no more excuse that it’s far from home), much cheaper (€15 euros per month in my pockets) and the people working there are great. I don’t feel like a number when I go there, I actually feel like I’m part of a big family. I’ve opted for the extra coaching service and so far I’m not regretting it.

I told my coach that I want to do a sprint triathlon next summer. He didn’t laugh at me, to the contrary. I think he enjoyed the fact that I had a specific goal in mind, other than classics like ‘getting back in shape and lose some weight’ like everybody else. His eyes really lit up when I mentioned what I wanted to achieve! Finally, he could have some fun and create a real custom program! 😉 Of course I want to get back in shape and lose some weight. But my goal, what I want to train for the coming months, is to do a triathlon. My training program is specifically aimed at this. It’s my responsibility to make sure I get back to running,  start swimming (I’m thinking of taking a few lessons this fall/winter, just to get proper technique) and keep on cycling/spinning, but at least now I have some help from a cool guy who wants me to succeed. Yes, he’s being paid to encourage me. But there’s nothing like a ‘Good work today, MC!’ at the end of a training to keep you going…

And I’ve started a new diet, too. I love Wei.ght Watch.ers and it has always worked great for me, but I needed something new. I realised along the way that I need more guidance. I’ve found a great book/method and I’ve lost close to 4 kg in just 3 weeks by following their planned menus. More on this new diet here: http://sveltissime.blogspot.com/ (Yes, it’s in French. Sorry.)

Weather permitting, I will hop on my bike and cycle to work tomorrow. I’m not getting back to running just yet, I need to lose some weight first. But if things go the way they’ve been going the last weeks, I should be able to start running in October. Can’t wait! I promised a friend (you know who you are!) to run the 20 km of Brussels in 2010. There’s probably going to be a lot of walking, but it’s a fun challenge to aim at.

To be continued…

Not off to a good start!

So I didn’t go to the swimming pool yesterday. I’m a big wuss and I didn’t feel like going out in the rain and the wind.

But this evening, I will go running. And DH is tagging along. I have to make sure that the Forerunners and the iPods are fully charged and ready to use. I don’t want any excuses for not going out for a run! And I’ll prepare the clothes as well. 

So I signed up for another race yesterday, this time a ‘ladies only’ race. I’m curious to see how it will go. If I look at my calendar I’ve got almost a race per week in April and May… isn’t it too much? It’s only 5K’s, but still… And then there’s the big event in July… :-/

Oh and I broke the news to DH: I signed up for a triathlon. I’m quite pleased with his reaction; I expected to be made fun of, not in a mean way mind you, but instead he said that he’s going to go and cheer his little athlete 🙂 The triathlon’s organisation is going to send a training program for beginners, I’m curious to see what it will made of. Surely some swimming, cycling and running 😉 I have a book called “Triathlon made easy“, with tons of tips and training plans for a super-sprint (which is pretty much what I’m going to do), a sprint and an olympic distance races. I’ll stick to the super-sprint for now. Looking at the training plan, I really wonder how I’m going to fit all these trainings in my already-way-too-busy schedule. I guess I’ll have to make sacrifices…

Food for thought for the coming days!