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Difficult Choices and Healthy Balance

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

So, I finally picked up "The Triathlete's Training Bible" by Joe Friel (which has been sitting on my night stand for a few weeks now). Truth be told, I hadn't even glanced at it because I felt a) overwhelmed by the wealth of information within b) a little bit unworthy to call myself a real triathlete and read a real book about training for said sport and c) a little prideful that I already had a good workout plan and system going for me. I reasoned I could pick up that book when race season comes around again and I actually need specific tips on certain aspects of racing.

After my annoying dizziness episode and two days of headache, I decided that enough was enough. I obviously have miscalculated something and I NEED help figuring out how to balance my training with my diet. Also, I need to know the truth about where weight loss fits into all of this...and, sadly, I have heard from more than one very credible source that it doesn't.

The book starts out with a quote that is pretty darn appropriate right now for me.

"Many dedicated endurance athletes don't need to be told what to do - they need to be told what not to do." - Scott Tinley, Professional Triathlete

I only got through one chapter before my eyes refused to open again. But, I will tell you right now that this first chapter (Chapter 1 Smart Training) touched on every single issue I've been having lately. It was as if the author had been watching my past month of effort and knew exactly what to correct. Crazy! It kind of makes me think I'm not the first overzealous brand new triathlete to hit the circuit and that brings me a small level of comfort. Haha.

In general, the entire first chapter discussed the fact that multisport training is like a puzzle, with the swim, bike and run training being the individual pieces (along with diet, rest and recovery and a few other pieces)....and the athlete's ultimate racing goals/desires being the overall picture. Just as you wouldn't attempt a 5,000 piece puzzle willy nilly without a specific plan of attack, you can't expect to train for triathlon without a detailed and focused plan.

The key to this chapter was that a training philosophy of emphasizing the least amount of the most specific training brings continual improvement. There was also quite a bit of information about moderation and rest.

Even with the details all worked out, an athlete must always keep the big picture in mind and stay focused on what they are working toward. So...what am I working toward? It hit me that this is what my friend meant at lunch the other day...what do I WANT?

Clearly, I am at a point where I need to make a choice between whether I want to focus on losing weight or focus on training. But I can't do both and expect my body to be at it's peak performance. I hate to admit this (but it's certainly no surprise to anyone) but my eyes were finally opened to the fact that I've been overtraining. I hate that. It's not like tons of my friends haven't been telling me this and I haven't been ignoring them completely. I don't know why it's so embarrassing to admit, but it just is. Also, I really love what I'm doing...so it's kind of tough to think about limiting or pulling back. But, there again, it's the BIG PICTURE that needs to be in my mind if I'm going to do this right.

Choosing between training and weight loss is something I have been avoiding...because I just didn't want to face this truth. I don't want to make that choice. However, it's a choice between two healthy options - lose weight or train for tri. I mean...that's a pretty sweet dilemma to have, as far as dilemmas go. Let's keep things in perspective here! My dilemma USED to be 3 Hard Shell Taco Supremes or a Mexican Pizza? And we all know the answer to that one, right? ALL OF THEM. Haha.

Seriously, though...you expect training to be hard work. You expect weight loss to be hard work. But you don't expect the hard work to come in the form of forcing yourself to exercise less or making a choice between two healthy options to find the MOST healthy for your own body.

So, I'm taking some rest time...because my body really needs some recovery time. I have ONE workout planned for this week...a spinning class on Thursday night that my friend already paid for so I'm going. For the rest of the week, I'm laying low, babying this ankle, eating as much as my body tells me it needs and sleeping as much as I can. As for my 10k this Saturday, we'll see how my ankle feels. If I can't run it, I'll walk it. If I can't walk it, I'll quit. A 10k race is not worth losing any momentum I could use toward my half marathon in 3 weeks. Although I realize this may be stupid, I AM running my half. It's the pinnacle of everything I've done this entire season and I will not quit that. Call me a stubborn ass, but that's just the choice I've made. I don't expect a fast time at all. And I'm fine with walking most of the half if I need to as well. But I will finish that one. If it takes me 5 hours, I will do it.

We all make our own choices. Some are wise. Some are risks. With everything, there's a balance. A balance of fitness and rest. A balance of smart and stupid. A balance of safety and risk. And we're all learning every day where that balance is for our own bodies.

Even facing difficult choices, I am so happy with where I am at right now. I wouldn't trade this new life for anything. In comparison to where I was last year, this is like paradise. To actually CARE about my body and think about what is best for it is kind of a new thing for me. All beginnings are rocky. But there will be a smooth path eventually. I have to believe that right now. It's really the only thing that keeps me moving.
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