Swim bike run

All about triathlon training, getting in shape in my 40s, biking, running, hiking, swimming, playing with my kids

Friday, April 15, 2011


The girls passed their yellow belt test! They are thrilled and proud. I'm proud too. They took the test very seriously, and practiced a lot in the weeks leading up to the test. The day itself they were really nervous going into it. It was hard sitting and watching them practice, seeing how anxious they were. Eleanor nearly cried when she learned that the person she was supposed to do her test with had failed to show up, and she was going to have to work with a near-stranger (and a boy, at that, ick!). Now that it's over and they know they passed, I'm so glad they had the experience, anxiety and all. How fabulous, at 8, to already know what it's like to work hard at something and achieve a goal. Instead of resting on their laurels, they are already anticipating the fall exam for the next belt. Hooray for goals!

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Several women I know have recently started the Couch to 5K running program. They are at the point I was at when I turned 40. The kids are no longer an excuse for the baby-weight or the lack of exercise, but you don’t know where to start. I am happy for them, and hope that some of them stick with it and catch the exercise bug. But I know from experience that most of them will do it for awhile then drop it. So I was thinking about what keeps me going, besides family culture and support. There seem to be several factors for me, and looking good in my wedding dress is not one of them (not that I don’t want to look good, but outward appearance has never been a strong enough motivator for me to stick with a diet or exercise plan).

Options: This is a big one. I planned to run this morning, but it turned out to be below my running temperature threshold (which is wimpy for a New Englander – it was something like 25 at 6 AM) and it had snowed last night (*&$#&%*# New England weather $#&%). I just couldn’t face it. So I hastily pulled together my gym bag, work clothes and lunch, and headed to the gym. It’s not as good a work out as a run, but it’s not bad and it’s certainly better than grabbing another cup of coffee and sinking into the couch for an hour.

Experience: I know how good I feel after working out. In fact, I was chatting with the guy at the front desk of the Y as I left today – he noted that I’m always smiling when I leave, no matter how I look when I come in. I also know how out of sorts I feel if I don’t get enough movement. I know that I’m going to largely enjoy myself while I’m working out. All those things have grown over time. I have a good base of experience to know that if I do grab another cup of coffee and sit for an hour I’m going to regret it the rest of the day, and I know that I’m going to enjoy myself as soon as I get to the gym. That’s usually enough to get me up and going when inertia is dragging me down. When it’s not enough, it usually means I’m over tired or sick, and I also have enough experience to know that I can take a day or two to rest, and I’ll get back to it when I’m feeling better. So a rest day doesn’t feel like falling off the wagon.

Ability/Endurance Level: When I started running and biking I liked how I felt, but afterward I was drained. It made it harder to motivate myself to get out the door, knowing that I was going to be tired the rest of the day. Now my regular daily workout is enough to energize me but not drag me down. So I’m not actually committing the entire day, just the hour or so when I’m exercising.

Goals: This is another big one. I’m learning about myself that I need a short term goal. The long term goals are fun, but like the wedding dress, they don’t actually get me out the door. I need a race or a long ride booked, or my workouts are aimless and less intense. Sure I’ll run, but I’ll be more casual about my distance over the week, I’ll bike when I’ve got a big chunk of time but I won’t make time for it. But I’ve got a 10K scheduled for mid-May, so I know I need to get my miles up before then so I can do well. The goal focuses me, and improves the quality of my exercise.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Active family

Abigail is taking swim lessons on Monday afternoons.  It makes for a complicated afterschool schedule, but it’s worth it – she loves swimming and these lessons are really helping her develop her stroke.  That means that this morning in addition to packing my gym bag and clothes for work, I had to grope around the still-dark garage, trying not to trip over the various bikes and bike parts, to find the bike rack. Because Dusty will bike home after work and walk with Abigail to swimming.  I will pick up Eleanor and Dusty’s commuter bike and then drive to the pool to get the others.  As I was getting my stuff together this morning, Abigail saw me putting on work shoes and asked how I was going to bike to work in my work shoes, so I went through the complicated pick up shenanigans, to explain why I wasn’t biking.  So, as I was groping around the garage, I was thinking happily about what an active family we are. 
This pleases me so much.  In my last marriage, I kept saying that I wanted to be more active as a family, that I wanted Eleanor to see us incorporating exercise into our lives, and I wanted to do active things with her.  But I never succeeded in making it part of our life in an ongoing way.  A lot of it was me, because I hadn’t gotten the exercise bug yet.  I tried periodically, but nothing stuck for long.  The most sustained period of fitness I had before I was 40 was in the year and a half before I got pregnant, when I was going to the gym regularly to get in shape pre-pregnancy, but I didn’t keep it up during pregnancy or afterward.  It wasn’t until I started running right before my 41 birthday that I began on the path to getting into shape for real.  I still have a way to go, but I do know that no matter what, exercise will be a part of my life on an ongoing basis.  But it’s not just my personal internal changes that have made the difference.  It’s far easier to sustain what I’m going because Dusty does it too.  He values physical activity for himself, for the girls, for us as a family.  So if I need to join a gym to get over my tendency to hibernate in the winter, he’s going to encourage me to do it even if it means leaving the house at 6:00 (okay, I never actually manage to leave at 6:00, it’s usually more like 6:20 by the time I get out the door) and leaving him to run the morning routine with the girls.  It wasn’t exactly that I had to fight to get the time in my old marriage, it was more that there was no value placed on the activity, and it was far easier to drop it than to push against our family culture of inertia.  It’s not that we didn’t ever do anything physical, but it wasn’t a regular part of our lives, and it wasn’t something we found easy to do with Eleanor.  Even when I went to the gym, I did it during my lunch hour from work, so she never saw me getting sweaty.  Now, several mornings a week her first sight of me is as I return from my run, sweaty and panting and happy.  Or I’m at home, because Dusty is on his run.  Or we are all heading to the playground to throw the Frisbee around.  No one questions that physical activity should be a priority (in fact, particularly with Abigail, if she is out of sorts we usually prescribe some physical activity, and it usually brightens her mood and brings her back to herself).  Not that my ex ever outwardly objected to the idea of exercising. It was harder to combat than that, because it was all unspoken habit and assumptions. This is not meant to be a diss of my ex. We were both part of this culture. It's just that I'm noticing how much easier it is to be active when it's part of the family culture, and how hard it is to change family culture.

Friday, March 18, 2011

New clothes!

My birthday is in a few weeks. Dusty, never very good at waiting to give a gift, gave me my birthday present early. He seems to have bought out the Title Nine workout section. I've now got a new, really flattering running skort, running capris, and two beautiful tech shirts - one long sleeved, one short. I can't wait to get out there and wear it all!

I'm not very good at spending money on myself, and work out clothes is an area where I really delay (case in point: I've needed new sports bras for almost a year, but keep making do with what I've got because they're expensive). But what this means is that I work out in whatever I've got, even if it doesn't quite fit, or if it's getting old and worn out. Mostly, I think that's okay. I'm not working out to pick up guys or impress my neighbors, after all. But it's also okay to want to look put together, to wear clothes that flatter. I whined and moaned when I saw pictures of myself at the triathlon or during the ALC in which I thought I looked bad - there are lots of things I can do about that, and wearing decent looking clothing is actually one of those things. It's surprisingly hard for me to get over myself and make an effort to look good in fitness clothing, but it's an effort worth making. So yeah, I'm pretty excited to be nudged in the right direction with this present. And now it's time to get up off the couch and go use the new clothes!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring update

The gym has been doing what I hoped, but I'm so glad to see spring arriving. I can run again! Last week I managed to get out for 10.5 miles total, in addition to a couple of gym sessions. This morning daylight savings time and a late bedtime conspired against me. There was no way I was getting myself moving early enough to get to the gym, but I did manage to sneak in a short fast run. I'm going to keep the gym membership for now. I like the rowing machine a lot, and the pool is great when it's not crowded, but I expect I'll go less frequently now hat I can move while outside once again. I didn't realize until this winter how deeply I hibernate in the winter. I just don't want to move when it's cold and dark. I'd be a mess if I lived in Finland.
Something I learned post-triathlon. I do far better with a specific training goal on the calendar. A general plan to, for instance, up my running miles over the winter, is not enough motivation for me. Dusty and I are signed up for a 10k in Vermont in May. I'm going to look at the summer and fall triathlon schedules and start making a plan. I'd love to do a sprint this spring and a longer triathlon in the fall, but I'd also like to train for a fall half marathon and I'm not sure whether I can do all of that plus everything else we've got planned for this year. Ladt year, Between the ALC and triathlon training, I didn't do nearly as much hiking or long bike rides as I would have liked. Plus, you kniw, the rest of my life takes some time and attention. I'm still trying to figure out how to balance training and life.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Winte hibernation

Oh yeah! I have an exercise blog! it's a challenge to keep this up when I've fallen into hibernation mode. Between the dark the cold and the snow I haven't been biking at all and barely running. When I do run I'm slow and lousy at it. Not only am I not continuing to I
Prove but I'm clearly losing ground. I may have found a cure though. I've joined the local Y. The best part is that it has a pool. I've gone swimming twice this week. Only 300/350 meters so far but if I swim twice a week the distance will go up. I'm still trying to figure out how to run successfully on the treadmill. Boring! Not helped by my initial failure to bring my iPod and today's realization that my iPod is truly on it's last legs (I destroyed the controls this summer by sweating on them too much, and now the volume is so low I couldn't hear it over the treadmill noises.)

So we will see if I can keep up my motivation to leave the house by 6:15 three or four days a week. If I can, this will be a great way to make it through the winter with minimal damage to my training goals. I'm no longer expecting improvement this winter, I just don't want to slip too much.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

This blog is slow when I'm not in training mode, isn't it?
It turns out September was inadvertently something of a rest month. Between tapering for the tri, taking the next week easy, then letting myself be distracted by lousy weather and busy mornings, I didn't run or bike very much, and I haven't swum since the tri.

I'm back on track again, because I don't want to hibernate too much this winter. In a couple of weeks I'm going to be looking for a swim coach to actually get some breathing while swimming lessons. Meanwhile I'm really enjoying the running, and managing to get in one or two rides a week. I've been riding on Friday mornings with Amanda, who recently got a fancy new carbon fiber bike. I have to work really hard to keep up with her on that thing, which makes the ride more interesting!