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The things we go through to Tri!

So I had a bit of a hiatus from writing/rambling about my TriLife.  I’m back now and hopefully you’ll be hearing from me a whole lot more as I make my journey to my first full Ironman in Texas on the 16th May 2015!  I’m going to kick of my return to blogging with my top 5 “Yep – I’m a triathlete” moments.

Triathlon is the weirdest sport ever. I mean why on earth would you swim, then in your wet clothes get on a bike and ride in a circle back to where you swam, then after that run in another circle back to where you swam in the first place! Not too mention the countless hours of training that you did, just so that you could do that! And all for what, a medal and a t-shirt (do not kid yourself that the t-shirt was free by the way).

these are kinda nice though  right??

these are kinda nice though right??

But we still do it right? For me, I don’t really care about the medal, or the shirt, or even sometimes my race time…I just love the feeling of accomplishment when I cross that line. When the realization of what I have achieved and conquered hits me – it gets me every time.

Along the way though there are so many things that happen to test out your commitment to this sport.

Below are my top 5 moments where you’ll really find out just how committed you are to triathlon and your training:

1. Good hair days:You wake up and your hair is just awesome, then you see your coach has scheduled a swim session – you  do it anyway.

2. Water Bottles that are out to ruin your life: We all have that one water bottle that constantly leaks, and it always seems to be the one that you grab when you’re rushing out the door to train, only to find later that it has leaked all over your dry clothes and you end up having to drive home in wet undies.

Drink-Safe-Drinking-Water-with-Right-Water-Bottles

3. Getting Dirty: There always comes a point where the amount of training you are doing is more than the amount of training clothes you have. You can do the math on how that works out.

Yep - that actually happened

Yep – that actually happened

4. You’re really gonna eat that?: Some days things get desperate on the nutrition side. I’m not gonna lie I have eaten some things out of the bottom of my gym bag or out of the back of my cycle top that where probably no longer fit for human consumption.

5. Please don’t stop the music: Weather is bad, you jump on the treadmill to start that killer 1 hour tempo work out. Water bottle, towel, and of course some good tunes ready to get you through the dreadmill. 5 minutes in, battery goes dead on the iPod… that means you have 55minutes of listening to yourself breath (puff, gasp, etc) and that awful gym background music.

Runner treadmill ILLUS.jpg

The things we go through for triathlon……

Stick around..I’m off to Dubai next week in preparation for Challenge  Dubai 70.3.  Once thats done, I start my big training block for Ironman Texas on the 16th May!

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What the heck is this Triathlon madness anyway? – Part 1

tri sports pic

So I have recently realised that not everyone actually knows what is involved in a Triathlon, or much about the sport in general.  It’s easy to forget when you are “in” to something that not EVERYONE knows what’s involved.  I thought I would write a series of posts that gives a general background on the sport and my take on why so many people are starting to take up triathlon and also include some of my personal tips and hints for newbies (i.e. all the things I learnt in my first 12 months in the sport)

Definition of a Triathlete (i.e.: one who competes in Triathlons)

Yeah - that sounds about right?

Yeah – that sounds about right?

So if you like the sounds of the above definition then read on!  No seriously triathlon  is basically a race that involves a swim leg, followed by a bike leg, followed by a run leg.  The point between the swim and the bike is call Transition 1 or T1, and from the bike to the run its called Transition 2 or T2.  So it goes SWIM-T1-BIKE-T2-RUN.  Triathlons come in varying distances but the traditional ones are:

1.SUPER SPRINT DISTANCE TRIATHLON:

350swim, 10km bike, 2.5 km swim – this distance is great for kids and nervous/just returning or starting fitness adults

2. SPRINT DISTANCE TRIATHLON:

750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run – great beginners distance triathlon (worth getting out of bed for)

3. STANDARD/OLYMPIC /5150 DISTANCE TRIATHLON:

1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run – Great for starting to push the limits, perhaps after a few sprints. This is the standard distance of Triathlons at the Olympic games

4. HALF IRONMAN/70.3/HALF CHALLENGE  DISTANCE TRIATHLON

1900M swim, 90km bike ride, 21.12km run(half marathon) – so now we are getting serious.  This is the start of long course/endurance triathlons (and were the fun starts if you ask me). You need a minimum of 4 months really to train for this, less if you have a good level of fitness already and well skilled in each of the disciplines required.

5. IRONMAN/CHALLENGE TRIATHLON

3800M swim, 180km bike ride, 42.2km run (full marathon) – so this the big one.  This is what most people have on their bucket list due to the challenge and effort required to complete this distance.  you are looking at least 4-6 months of pretty intense and focused training before you should attempt this distance.

louisville medals

Triathlon has a distance for all levels of fitness  and I highly recommend if you are remotely curious to give one a go.  They really are quite fun and give you a sense of accomplishment when you cross the finish line.  You don’t need anything particularly fancy for your first one, and many items can be hired (i.e. a wetsuit if required and even the bike).  Once you have tried it you can then decided if you want to make the invest in these items (and many others that are nice to haves).

To get started visit the following website that give you more information on the sport of triathlon :

http://triathlon.competitor.com

http://www.slowtwitch.com

http://eu.ironman.com/#axzz2vXjtwH5D

Watch out though – if you like it prepare to become ADDICTED.

PART II – What do I need to get started?

Learning to train on my own

So I am now back in Australia, unemployed and basically kind of homeless (living out of a suitcase until the end of March 2014 anyway).  I had these visions of what I would do with all the time I would have once I was not working and how I would be able to jump out of bed everyday and train whenever I wanted and I would be so fit, and feeling so great.  Well..it’s turned out to be not quite as easy as I had imagined.

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I am very lucky as my family are being super supportive and encouraging  and helping me to train everyday. I have a 25m pool less than 2km from the house, access to unlimited bike and running tracks, and a huge number of gyms to choose from in the area. I have been doing all my training sessions and putting in the hours (well ok I may have missed a few), but something is different, for the first time since I started this journey  I am doing all of this alone.  No-one to meet up with, no scheduled training sessions with a group waiting for me,  no smiles or hi’s (or hugs) from familiar faces out on the tracks, no compliments on a good session, or support for my improvements and no-one to benchmark against  – except myself.

I am having to push through every session alone with only my own voice, and the aches and pains seem worse, every training session seems harder and longer than I remember.  I even started to ask myself what am I  doing this for, what’s the point, and my times seem slower, my body weaker? I have realised that I had come to enjoy my new-found passion through training with others, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but at the same time perhaps I was doing this sport not because I really loved it, but because it was a chance to be accepted by a group of people and because it made me interesting to some others.  When you take that away, you have to really ask yourself if this is really what you want to be doing, and what is your real goal.

Weird I know - but if you know me - you'll get it!

Weird I know – but if you know me – you’ll get it!

Well I have been thinking about it long and hard, and I’m doing all this training and racing because I believe it is making me a better person.  Triathlon makes me feel strong, in control, capable, confident.  Everything I put in to it, I get back in full – it never lies.  It has also taught me to be more relaxed about the little things, to pace myself, maintain a strong composure at all times and be in the present moment.  I absolutely love training with others, particularly those who know me, and have been with me on this journey since the beginning – but most importantly now I need to know that I can do this alone – that I can self-motivate.

I guess deep down I knew this was coming, and hence why I signed up for the Eagleman Ironman 70.3 in Cambridge MD in June of this year.  The momentum towards that race will keep me going, while I learn to adjust to training without my motivators of the last year.  For now I just need to get through this period of change and adjustment – and hopefully on the other side I will be a better athlete and an even better person. Between now and June I will be thinking long and hard about my next goal – stay tuned, it’s sure to be a  big one…

Quotation-Stephen-Richards-success-power-people-money-motivational-self-improvement-self-help-wealth-Meetville-Quotes-17649

Going with the FLOW….

Early morning swim at Yas Links

Early morning swim at Yas Links

Alright I admit it, I was extremely vague on the Why Triathlon question from my last blog. My explanation was because life “sends you what you need when you need it”, mmmm ok – what the hell does that really mean. There has to be a better explanation as to why I am spending a ridiculous amount of my time week in and week out packing bags, driving to training locations, training, washing and cleaning bike/swim stuff, repacking bags, waking up at ungodly times, reading triathlon magazine…..I think you get the idea…….

So I had a good think about it, and I don’t have any really solid explanation other than it makes it me feel good…like “super star” good. Triathlon training (and everything that goes with it) makes me feel like I have an identity, a title, it connects me to a group of infinite other crazy people who were found by Triathlon. So basically in other words Triathlon makes me feel COOL. There I said it out loud and if anyone disagrees with me let me know. I like the stuff, I like the bike (ok I actually LOVE my bike), I like my bright coloured shoes, I like the strange work-out attire I can now get away with wearing (cause I’m a Triathlete), but what I like the most is the way it makes me feel, both physically but more importantly mentally and emotionally.

I recently attended the Deepak Chopra – Soul of LeadershipSeminar here in Abu Dhabi (sorry Deepak but after lunch you lost me and I only recall something about Carl Jung and 100 monkeys, the rest was a blur). However the first part of Deepak’s extremely illogically organised presentation talked about being present, coming back to the listener, separating ones ego from ones true self. I have come across this a lot in Triathlon, in some of the long trainings you need to be really present, to be in the moment. You most definitely also have to check your ego at the door when you take this sport on – you need to listen to your body, and keep you own pace and not be side tracked by what others are doing or what you think their expectations of you are. I have noticed when I am training that if I let my mind wander, look around or get distracted, my speed and technique very quickly decline. If I stay present, focused on everything that my body is doing, thinking of what I am trying to achieve, my goal for that exact moment and session – I notice my body relax, my breathing rate decline, my technique improve and my speed increase.

So what’s with that? I remembered reading some time ago about a thing called Flow (read about it here). I think that is what has happened. I have finally (it only took 37 years) found something that gives me “Flow”, and this seems to do amazing things for my overall ability to deal with change, manage difficult situations and most importantly it’s teaching me patience. Stop trying to rush everything, stay in the moment and time seems to stand still and speed up all at the same time. I even find myself now, in a long session of over 2 hours, almost not wanting to stop – how weird is that?

In the article link above it says “by learning to control attention, any skill can be mastered, the important thing is to enjoy the activity for its own sake and to know what matters is not the result, but the control one is acquiring over one’s attention.”

That’s fine, but something that I say a lot is that it still has to be fun. It’s no good doing all this seriousness if you aren’t actually having fun with it. I reckon you need a balance of intense focus, without taking yourself to seriously to keep the Flow with something you enjoy doing.

Buddhist advise “act always as if the future of the universe depended on what you did, while laughing at yourself for thinking that whatever you do makes a difference”.

So there you have it. There is the Why Triathlon question resolved.

In summary, it’s because it makes me feel COOL!

xx