There is never enough time. Outside of eating, sleeping, cooking, cleaning, personal hygiene, socializing, walking the dog, quality time with the boyfriend, and a Monday to Friday 8-4 job, I’m left with few precious hours to train. Sometimes I look at my training schedule and wonder how it will all fit into my day. In fact I find it challenging from week to week to properly fit it all in without overdoing it or missing something. Today was a prime example of trying to do too much at once. I was scheduled for a two-hour endurance ride and a form practice swim lesson at 7pm. Waking up at 430am to get in nutrition, stretching, the ride, a shower, and travel to work, seemed a little unreasonable, so I figured I’d make a mad dash home at 4pm, hop on the trainer, then rush off to my swim class at 630; totally doable. Cue 415 and I’m flailing through the front door, scrambling into my bike shorts, filling up water bottles, and grabbing TV remotes (trust me, you need TV for an endurance ride on the trainer). I finally got properly seated in the saddle and I had a Gatorade in one hand and two remotes in the other, surfing for the hockey game. At this point I was still frantically settling myself in for a long ride, and as I reached down to the coffee table, mid cycle, for my water bottle cap, the law of gravity embraced my large off-balanced body and, wham! I had the trainer and bike on its side and on top of me, my body slammed up against the side of the table with a handlebar jammed into the top of my thigh. In the moment, horrendous curse words flew from my mouth and rage, panic and frustration welled up inside of me. I learn a valuable lesson today about training and about being reasonable. My training schedules are automatically generated for me based off my goals. It doesn’t take into account eating, cooking, sleeping, my boyfriend, or life in general. It just demands hours and mileage. But as an age group triathlete who will probably never grace the podium, I have to be realistic with my goals. I want to get better and I want a challenge, yet I still need to have time for everything else. What I learned is that training needs to fit your life, and sometimes it’s OK to miss a workout, or to take an extra day off. The top age groupers may believe their life revolves around the sport, but for me, until this sport will pay my bills, I will be left scrambling for time to fit it in. It will be a delicate balance, but frantically rushing from one thing to the next and falling on top of coffee tables seems like a bit much to me.
This is for the average Joes and Jills of triathlon. For the ones who fit in their love for our great sport when time, and life permits, yet our passion screams at us to do it all day. For those who have asked our loved ones to take a second job so we can train full-time, and sternly been told, “no.” For all of us who dream big and dig deep even if it means we just finish the race.
I find that, for the most part, people seem genuinely impressed when I tell them I am a triathlete. Yet, if you’re like me, every time the words escape my mouth, I feel like a total fraud. To most people, a triathlete is a super human who trains for hours and miles on end, lives off sports bars, vitamins and shakes, has the stamina of an antelope, the resting heart rate of a half-dead turtle, and the body of an extraordinarily thin, yet eerily muscular toothpick. Personally, I can assure you that I am none of these, although my resting heart rate is quite low, I attribute that to genetics more than superior athletic fitness. The definition of my life as a triathlete is a little bit different. I really don’t train for hours and miles on end, people might think that I do because I talk about triathlons for hours and miles on end. I live on most of the same foods everyone else does, and sometimes even indulge in things I shouldn’t, like wine and bacon. My stamina is more like that of an asthmatic horse; slow and steady, yet I spend a lot of energy gasping for air. Kind of paints a dissimilar picture. I don’t really care though, I just continue on doing what I do and people can keep on believing that I am as great as the title of “triathlete” claims to be. I just hope no one spots me trotting along the road at my snail’s pace or flailing at the pool like a drowning fly, because then my cover really is blown. Really though, I may as well have printed ‘rookie’ on my forehead. I think I’ve read enough blogs, articles, magazine stories, tri dictionaries and books to fake my way through the lingo and the basics, but most days I really have no idea what I’m doing. It’s kind of like the first time I got in the pool to swim laps, I sort of just hopped in and hoped not to drown. To most people, even though I thought I was swimming, I probably looked frantic and completely incapable of making it to the other side. Even now, almost a year later, when I’m at the pool doing my
open turns and looking like the scream mask every time I bob up and gasp for air, I look “new.”
Maybe some of you are more than just an asthmatic horse, so maybe I speak for myself on that one, but as an average Jill I often believe my feeble attempts of fitting in with the eerily muscular toothpicks are laughable. Despite this, we can’t really knock ourselves down for at least trying. After all I know that if I spent all my free time just drinking wine and eating bacon I wouldn’t be flailing or trotting along to anywhere. So moving fast or barely moving at all, we still get to claim the title of triathlete, and impress people wherever we go.
There has been a sharp pain radiating off the side of my right calf muscle for the last month and a nagging discomfort in my Achilles. I’ve mostly tried to ignore it, hoping it’s just normal muscle pain from a balls-to-the-wall season of training and racing. Yet, it hasn’t subsided, and seems to be getting increasingly worse. I’ve just finished a few months of having my back corrected at $45/15 minutes by a chiropractor, and now it’s on to massage therapy to get the bottom half of my body back in working order. Pain is just a part of the training; bruises, cuts, blisters, aching muscles, black toenails, road rash, chafing, and so on, but all that stuff is more of a nuisance than anything, and working through it won’t cause any more damage. But my massage therapist has guaranteed me months of discomfort and indefinite time off if I don’t sit down and relax for a little bit. The ‘R’ word is something I loathe. I train for three different sports, twice a day, six days a week; I don’t do rest. The thought of cutting back on my running workouts is difficult to think about. It is my weakest of the three sports and requires the most attention. Although, the thought of cutting out all three sports and not doing anything for any period of time kills me, so I suppose I’m going with his advice. Here’s to doubling up on swim workouts and bike rides.