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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 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, 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.

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
FRANCES-AGAPE 9/25/2012 10:34PM

Obviously that book was
a God-send

Have a WonderfuL Wednesday

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KRYSTALLA 9/25/2012 10:00PM

    Sounds like you found and discovered what you needed to hear at the time you did need it. Take your time and do what is best for you and your body.


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AUSFAM 9/25/2012 9:58PM

    Jut because you can't lose weight right now doesn't mean you can't lose after the tri--right?? Hurting your body can have permanent damage. Excited for you as you begin this new journey!!! You'll work it all out and you'll do FANTASTIC in whatever you decide! :)

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KIPPER15 9/25/2012 9:52PM

    You have such determination you will do well. You have a plan and go with it. emoticon emoticon emoticon

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JUNEAU2010 9/25/2012 8:55PM

    I applaud you for so many things - for opening your eyes, facing your choices, recognizing them, acknowledging them, blogging about them and for taking care of YOU! emoticon emoticon

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CHRIS3874 9/25/2012 8:49PM

    I wish I could STILL RUN period, Best of luck - I would keep training. It will work out in the long run .

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OPTIMIST1948 9/25/2012 8:41PM

    Actually, I found that Triathlon training I still lost weight and got to eat 85% of everything I still wanted (well, the healthy stuff. Not the Mexican Pizza.)

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FRANCIEVW 9/25/2012 8:40PM

    Great job, Leah! Sorting it out is the fun (and the pain) of life. All during your article, I was thinking, DO BOTH! That's the Aries in me :0 Reaching for one goal will automatically make the other goal happen and in a way that will be a sustained process, not one and done. You got this. Go for it!

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RUN_BAKE_BLOG 9/25/2012 8:19PM

    I love you. You know that. Both are possible...

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    Hard to choose between 2 good choices (weight loss or tri training)... but either is a great choice to make!

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CHARTHESTAR 9/25/2012 7:20PM

    emoticon I am so happy that your come to this realization. I haven't said so but I thought you were training an awful lot. And I thought going for a triathlon was a big undertaking.

You are young- there's time to do a triathlon. The best thing is to lose weight and get healthy. That will benefit you for the rest of your life. your knees and hips will thank you and support you for your life!

Congratulations on making the best decision, in my opinion, for now. Getting healthy and a right weight will be the very best present you could ever give yourself!

Not to mention to have a little extra time spent with your family and I'm sure they will really love that.

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SOXFANNH 9/25/2012 7:15PM

  Tough choice, but a good one to have, as you said. I think that as you listen to your body, you will know what is right for you. And as others have said, training will make you healthier (and probably slowly lighter) and losing weight will make training less stressful on your body. If you look at it as win/win, rather than lose/lose, it may make whatever you decide not to focus on easier to let go. Keep the good work! I love to read your blog.

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FITFOODIE806 9/25/2012 6:49PM

    Leah! This made me cry and to be honest, I'm not sure if they are sad tears or happy tears right now. Can they be both??! What a tough decision for you. Here's what has been obvious since day one of reading your blogs: you have a huge heart. You are an athlete. You are a determined fighter.
I know that you will reach your goals, in weight loss and with triathlons. And I really don't think you need to completely give up on the latter in order to do the former. I think you can still do a sprint, or a mini sprint next summer. You clearly have the skills. And running a 5k will not require the calorie consumption that HM training does.
I think you are so very smart to listen to your body and listen to your heart and do that HM.

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35ANGELS 9/25/2012 5:10PM

    Sounds like you have a good plan. Listen to your body. It will tell you what it needs.

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QUAIL75 9/25/2012 4:22PM

    You made the right decision. You have to listen to your body and do what is best for it and you. Good luck this weekend! emoticon

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PEGGYO 9/25/2012 3:00PM

    sounds like you are making a plan

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ROSES4ME1 9/25/2012 2:42PM

    Always find lots of good information in your messages. With your passion for finding the right balance of fuel, exercise and rest for your body, the path will get smoother and I know you can reach whatever goals you set for yourself.

Good luck with the 10K this weekend There is joy for me in crossing a finish line, even if I sometimes need to walk over it. I just consider it all part of the journey to good health for a lifetime. emoticon

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GETFIT2LIVE 9/25/2012 1:36PM

    Keep making the best choices you can for yourself. One of the greatest gifts that running has given to me is becoming much more in tune with my body--what it needs and what is good for it. The difficult comes in understanding what it is really telling me and then actually DOING it. I can't speak to triathlon training, but I heard from more than one person that you can't lose weight while training for a half marathon. I found that while my weight loss slowed down, I still was able to lose while training by balancing my calories in/calories out carefully. Hang in there; you will accomplish your goals in due time!

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DONNA5281 9/25/2012 12:57PM


You have given this much thought. You have to do what is right for you.
I wish you luck in whatever decision you choose.

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HEALTHYOTTER 9/25/2012 12:54PM

    In a way, it is a choice: while you're training and gaining muscle strength, the scale may not move the direction you want it to. I'd bet your ultimate goal isn't simply a number on the scale. It seems more like a feeling of health, energy, positive feelings about yourself. Both training and weight loss take you toward this goal. Training for the tri WILL help you feel healthy, strong, empowered, just as recovering from your ankle injury did. Feeling healthy, strong, empowered, you may decide to try that rice and veggie thing at Taco Bell (which was pretty good, FYI) instead of the usual. I lost inches while training, and sometimes lost pounds. I was beaming the entire tri, amazed that I was actually doing the swim bike run athlete thing. And the encouragement from other triathletes was so uplifting. Write down and be consciously aware of those non-scale victories. Savor every moment of victory (like my knees don't hit my stomach when I'm pedaling; I swam 4 more lengths in my 30mins!) to stay motivated. As you're laying down the foundation of fitness, you're re-gearing your body for the long haul, the rest of your life!

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LINDAK25 9/25/2012 12:50PM

    I get that you have to do these two races. Please tell me that you're going to run as part of weight loss. You are losing the weight first, right? Because that's the healthiest option, right? Then you're going to go on and run marathons and triathlons and Iron-mans.

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PATTISTAMPS 9/25/2012 12:28PM

    I absolutely agree - the training is so heart healthy - and lungs and bones and blood vessels.... it is major important. And I expect that you WILL lose some weight - maybe not what you want to lose, but if you only lost 1/2 pound a month, wouldn't it be OK??? As long as you are strong and healthy!

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ISABELLE31 9/25/2012 12:26PM

    I'm glad that you're able to stop and think about what's best for your body. So many of us overtrain and injure ourselves, burn out, etc.

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MARATHONDAD 9/25/2012 12:18PM

    this blog hits home. I was at this crossroads this summer. Training for half marathons and trying to loose weight. you can not do both its impossible. So I thought about it and weighed the pros and cons. I came up with if I trained for half marathons and ate healthy this would make me happier and I would be living a healthy lifestyle. I will never have that six pack of abs but I will be able to run a half in under 2 hours which made me happier. so you have to think what will make you happier and what gives u a better chance to live a healthy lifestyle!!!!!!!

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STEADFASTNSEE 9/25/2012 11:51AM

  MUCH better and much WISER my dear!

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GOING-STRONG 9/25/2012 11:48AM

I have been reading "Triathlon for Dummies" lol.... Your book sounds interesting too!

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GUITARWOMAN 9/25/2012 11:37AM

    This is so interesting...I am reading your friend's book and find the competitive triathelete mindset just fascinating....

Chosing between passions, even two ehalthy ones, must be hard.....

I would think that the kind of training involved would lead to some weight loss....

good luck to you!

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SLIMLEAF 9/25/2012 11:37AM

    Leah, you're doing so well, making wise and sensible decisions. Keep up the good work (or should that be 'keep up the good REST'?!)

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RUNNER12COM 9/25/2012 11:23AM

    So much truth here. I am recovering myself from a summer of running every day, and I can tell that it wasn't a very healthy challenge. I'll learn from it, though, and make better decisions going forward.

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HFAYE81 9/25/2012 11:20AM

    You are one smart cookie. emoticon emoticon

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JSMC10 9/25/2012 11:15AM

    This is fantastic that you have been faced with 2 healthy choices! It just goes to show how much your mindset must have changed. Whichever choice you take I will be fully behind you as always and don't forget, if you do choose to just keep on losing weight, you can use training for a triathalon as motivation, because you can always do that a bit later on, when you've finished losing the weight you want to or when you choose the time is right again! emoticon emoticon

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NILLAPEPSI 9/25/2012 11:13AM

    You go girl!!! When you do this Triathlon -- we wanna see pics, lots & lots of pics! emoticon

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