Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Consistency & Commitment

The two C words that often make me shiver.

Throughout my life, I've been all about another C word - Change. I've loved change. Change for Geminis is like honey for bees. I'm always ready to try something new to help me discover something new about myself. To me, consistency used to equate to boredom. I could not eat the same breakfast three days in a row, forget having the same routine. In fact, one of the reasons for doing a triathlon was precisely because it was novel and there was variety built into the sport - it wasn't about the same activity. The main reason I've shied away from marathons is not because of the physical exertion but because I cannot imagine doing the same thing for 5 hours! Call me ADD but I love change. I believe that change pushes you out of your comfort zone. And when you dare to move out of your comfort zone, you begin to learn something new about yourself - how you think, act, believe.. how certain assumptions you've held onto are mistaken (or true). The re-visiting of yourself in a new situation helps you to get to know yourself all over again.

When the tri routine was new to me in 2007, I embraced it. Then I discovered Tri-training, like any other endurance activity hinged on consistent training. When it came to buckling down to a regular routine for training in 2008, it was a struggle. I struggled with enforcing my own routine. What made it even more difficult was that I was contending with health issues. So I always found reasons to break with routine.

But after battling health issues over the last two months, I've begun to embrace routine again. Last week I started working out again and tagged along with Cha who's training for OD this season. I stayed away from creating any sort of schedule for myself because I was not sure how my body would handle it. (And admittedly I had some trepidation that the R word would lead to inner resistance.) The training days worked well for me. The next week, I found myself wanting to stick with the training - miraculously and effortlessly, I wanted to be (gasp) consistent!

On reflection, you can do the same thing for 100 times but when you do it with full attention, it seems like a new experience each time. For instance, yesterday when I swam the usual free-style & breaststroke, I started noticing how my body responded to each style differently... which muscles were working... how my arms felt as I propelled myself forward etc.

Consistency, at the end of the day, is born out of commitment. If you are committed to your goal, you will find it in you to train consistently. Here's an interesting blog post that Amit forwarded to me about the power of commitment. It's really inspiring how the author tackled the challenges of tri-training because she was committed to her goal of losing weight. . which ultimately led to new self-insights.

As a triathlete, I ask myself, "What am I committed to? Why am I committing to this?" When my commitment is clear, it makes room for consistency. I am able to make it to my planned workout. Yesterday, I had a hectic day and found a lot excuses to escape my swim workout.. fatigue, errands, a meeting at night etc. Then I made up my mind to follow through with my intended workout because I knew that the exercise would help in my recovery. I went swimming at 24hr fitness at 9.30pm. And it felt awesome.

My commitment is clear this season. I'm committed to helping my body heal. I'm committed to a routine that will help my body get to a place where I feel strong enough to take on challenging distances. I want to find out what my body can do for me and discover my true potential - that is what I'm committed to.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Words of Wisdom from Coach A!

~ Posting on behalf of Coach Amit, honorary member of Tri-oomph!:)~

Ok Lady Tri-Oomphers-

I've been laying (in stealth mode) on many of the discussions on this mailing list and that is of course "by design". I do not want to break the mojo of the "sisterhood of the triathletes" or the peer-to-peer camaraderie and have people stop referring to the group as "HeyLadies!" :) Since as a guy, I have been granted exclusive membershipto this group (for which I am very thankful to Cha/Sha), I felt a little payback was overdue, so here are some of my thoughts (after stating these I will go back into "stealth mode" unless there aredirect questions of course) :)

#1 Swim Coaching:
Swimming is perhaps the discipline that keeps most folks from even attempting to Tri (this is *one* of the reasons there are more Runners and Cyclists than Triathletes around the world. That being said, Triathlon is still the *fastest* growing sport in most parts of the world, defn the US. I think Steph pointed this out earlier). So, why am I saying all of this? For one because Swimming was discussed a lot on this thread and two you've *gotta* take this discipline seriously and some degree of formal coaching for this particular discipline is time and money well spent. I think most Swim programs and pools(heated/non-heated) have been covered. A few of the pools that were left out were Deep Eddy, Barton and Nitro. Deep Eddy and Barton are two of my favorites since nothing is better than finishing yr swim and not reeking of the smell of Chlorine. Especially Barton should be a weekly ritual no matter what distance you training for and whether or not you are already getting formal training. It just NEEDS to be incorporated into yr training schedule. It is by far the best place to practice open-water swim. You can practice all of the valuable traits of open-water swimming such as sighting, navigating, drafting etc out there. It also does wonders for the calming the anxiety one feels (at least I used to feel) on race day morning when the gun goes off (if all you've doing is swimming in lane-pools). When I was training forSprint's/Oly's, it used to be one indoor swim and one Barton a week,at least. For Halfsie (that I am currently training for), it's two indoor and one Barton, at least. It's totally free this time of the year and of course being so cold and all, westuits help but are not a requirement since yr body warms up just fine after the first lap. Nitro has a lot of swim classes and an Oly sized pool so that's a plus but maybe far for most of you folks who live Central or South.

#2 Plans for Races this year:
After Galveston Half in Apr, I think I am going to do a few Sprints and Oly's to build on speed during the middle of the year as I plan onracing at least another two Halfsies before wrapping up the season inOct/Nov. My favorite Sprints/Oly's have always been (in no particularorder) Rookie, Couples, Captex and Austin Tri. The last two are downtown races and there is nothing in the world that can match the phenomenal spectator support for downtown races. Many of you Runners who've run downtown races may be very familiar with what I am talking about. Also, the bike and run courses are pretty flat and well paved in the downtown Tri's. G3- Swimming in TL is not as bad as it's madeout to be. I actually enjoyed it. Lottsa easy landmarks to sight off which rocks since I am usually known to stray off course and be theone poked on the head by the guys in the Kayak (refer to importance of swimming in Barton to practice sighting) !! Rookie is awesome because of the time of the year (read: Texas summer just begun), the scenic rolling bike course, all-you-can drink beer at the end and the fact that my long standing crush and idol pro-triathlete Desiree participates in it every year :) For you ladies, does it help if I told you Governor Rick Perry participates every year? ;) By the way singer Shawn Colvin is there every year also. Also, this was Cha's and my first ever individual race and I have raced this race since 2006*every* year, so it's special. Ok, nuff said about Rookie. Just do it...it's awesome!!! Couples is great since it's the *only* race where someone elses time affects yrs and so that makes for the greatest camaraderie during training, motivating each other and of course on race day.

#3 Bike Shopping:
I think Itisha asked about this and Steph's advice of CL was spot-onw.r.t good deals. That being said, I cannot emphasize enough the need to be in the right size frame. Everything else is modular i.e. can be adjusted or replaced, just not the "frame". So...*before* you go scavenging for good deals on Craig's, make sure you go get fitted at one of the *reputed* (read: BSS, J&A and ATC) bike stores around town.My fav is J&A because they have the friendliest folks in the business and they really *do* care about you riding in the right sized bike even if you don't buy a bike from them. Remember to mention to them what "type" of bike you plan on buying online (Road vs Tri) since the fitting is totally different for the two. Which one between the two should you go for? I can elaborate on that if there's interest but in short it really depends on what you already have, types of rides(races vs organized rides), money you want to spend and how aggressive you want to be. Remember that just because a person with your exact height is selling a bike on Craig's, it doesn't mean it will fit you.Two reasons for that are 1) He/She may not have been fitted into that bike properly and may have bought it on a whim on Craig's like you are planning to and 2) Your measurements (inseam, torso, arm length) maybe vastly different from theirs making it a bad fit for you. Bottomline: Get professional help to determine your right sized frame, then decidewhere you wanna buy the bike from. The best advice for beginner's isto just borrow a bike for the first race (even though it's not the right fit). You will be surprised on the learning curve on bikes as you ride more and more. I bought my first bike almost a year after getting into Tri's.

#4 Kick-Off Gettogether:
I am all for it!! HH one of these Thu evening's?? :)

- Coach-A (pseudo title since I have really not coached most of you in the group) :)

Monday, March 2, 2009

It's Tri time again!!!

Hi girls!!

Hope everyone is doing well!!

It's March...practically Spring...and time for Tri season!! :D

I signed up last week for my 1st ever Olympic Distance Triathlon - the CAPITAL OF TEXAS TRIATHLON - http://www.captextri.com/!

These are the distances I will be training for for this Tri:
Swim: 1500 m
Bike: 40 KM
Run: 10 KM

This is definitely going to be one challenging experience, but I can't wait! There is a lot to be done. I need to improve my swimming and stroke efficiency and become MUCH more comfortable with freestyle. I need to graduate to clipped pedals! 10K run might not sound that bad after a 42K marathon, but a 10K run AFTER a 40K bike ride will surely be something! So definitely more brick training needed! I start my training this week and this is what my tentative workout schedule looks like:

Monday - AM: Bootcamp PM: 45 min Swim Session @ 24 hour fitness pool
Tuesday - AM: Bootcamp PM: Spin class @ 24 hour fitness
Wednesday - AM: Bootcamp PM: Break
Thursday - AM: Bootcamp PM: 2 mile Run @ Canyon Creek Middle School track
Friday - AM: Swim Session @ 24 hour fitenss pool PM: Break
Saturday - AM: 10K Bike Ride @ TBD.
Sunday - AM: 5K Run @ Town Lake

If you girls would like to join me for any of these workouts, please do let me know!! It's always more fun to train with some company! :)