Betterness Part 1: Self Image

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So it’s been over a month since I last wrote anything. There were a lot of factors. I was having some minor health issues that were slowly being worked out (and finally everything seems to be working properly!). Also, for the three months between October and January, every single kiddo has their birthday, as well as Halloween (which we always have a party at our house), Thanksgiving for the family at our house, Christmas, and New Years. That has kept me busy, as well as a wonderful visit from my in-laws. Finally, for three weeks in a row I had my final races of the season. So for three consecutive Sundays I had an Olympic distance triathlon, a half marathon, followed by another Olympic distance triathlon. Did I mention I got a nasty head cold right after my half marathon…only to then develop Strep Throat on top of that the day before my final race? That final race I performed with a head cold and strep throat. So basically, in a nut shell, I’ve been busy, and the ol’ blog here took a back seat for a while.

I have been in a four year struggle with my health, weight, and self image. It’s been a long and slow journey…and I’m still not where I want to be. But I did these three fairly difficult races all in a row and I succeeded…and it has left me excited to see what the future will bring next. So I figure I will kick off these next set of blogs with my random thoughts on these areas…health, weight, and self image. (If you, for some inexplicable reason, want more detail on my slow journey to betterness…I have included links to three different blogs I have written since King Toot was born that talk about different aspects of my journey. You’ll find them at the bottom of this post.)

Tonight I’m going to start with self image. I do not consider myself an athlete. I never have. I swam on my swim team all through high school and even made sectionals several years in a row, and never felt like an athlete. I worked hard, trained hard, and that was that. I have always felt too tall, too gangly, too heavy, and definitely too accident prone to be an athlete (as proof, I ran into the side view mirror to my car today and have a nice big bruise to show for it. Sir Smiley has banned me from ever going on the roof or other high places for fear I will fall in some epic way…to my certain death). When I first started attempting to train for my first half marathon, I bought a decent pair of shoes, and that was it. I never bothered with types of training methods, drills, sprints, cruise intervals, hills, etc. I didn’t get any sportswear, or fancy gadgets. I had an iPod my hubby had won for me years ago in a raffle…it was the kind with the big circular button and the old school black and gray screen. I had to hold it in my hand. I didn’t bother with food nutrition or, as the sporties call it, fuel. That stuff was for athletes…which I was not. It wasn’t until I started reading The Triathlete’s Training Bible that my perspective started to change. I set up an annual training plan, and then actually started following it. I realized that fuel wasn’t just for athletes, it was to keep your body going when it works for long periods of time…no matter what you look like or how fast you are. I started trying different things, GU gels, accelerade, Gatorade, GU chomps, stinger waffles, cliff bars, protein drinks, etc. I found what I liked and started to improve.

The best part of tracking your workouts, is seeing what you’ve accomplished at the end. The author, Joe Friel, encourages the use of a training log. (no..I am not being paid to endorse his book. I just think his book is freaking amazeballs! It has transformed the way I think about myself and how I approach my workouts.) I tracked all my hours and distances that I did throughout the year. He compares training to climbing a mountain. You make a plan, and follow it as best you can…making adjustments for weather, health, terrain, etc. If you stick with it, you’ll reach the top, look back, and see how far you’ve come. That is what I experienced. Forget weight loss or pant sizes…I felt real success. Not only did I complete my first Olympic triathlon, I completed three of them. I dropped 24 minutes in 3 months worth of training from my first to my final Tri. I dropped 21 minutes off my best time in a half marathon. But even more awesome was the improvement off my last half marathon. I completed it six months after King Toot was born. It was awful. My lungs and heart were fine, but my joints and muscles were aching so bad that it slowed me down to a walk. I felt like a thin person trapped in a fat person’s body and I cried for the last two miles while Sir Smiley tried to encourage me along. I dropped 40 minutes off of that time. It was a feeling of redemption! Then I look at my total training. I swam for 2133 minutes, biked for 2293 minutes, and ran 3112 minutes for a total of almost 153 hours. I swam 47.5 miles, biked 1370 miles, and ran 240 miles for a total of 1657.5 miles. I feel amazing looking at that.

I am the the poster girl for “if I can do it…anyone can.”. I couldn’t even jog half a block when I started. I felt slow, awkward, and jiggly. The chafing….oh the chafing! Body Glide quickly became my thigh’s best friend, I ran at night so people wouldn’t be able to see me as clearly. I was also 40 pounds heavier. I knew nothing about running or biking, and it had been years since I had really been swimming. But I look at what I accomplished, and I want only one thing…for others to experience that feeling too. Nothing beats it. It doesn’t have to be triathlons (but I will say, triathletes are the most amazing, welcoming, and friendly people). But find a sport you really can get passionate about. Don’t worry what other people think. Research, read, and…most importantly…keep track. Keep track, so you can look back at what you’ve accomplished and get that same exhilaration…whether it’s your first 5K or an Ironman. Be proud that you did it!

Next time: weight…duh duh duh (say that in your head as an ominous interlude)

Reference 1: My thyroid problems: Click Here

Reference 2: My post on triathlons…which includes links to previous posts about triathlons. So my basic athletic journey: Click Here

Reference 3: My post on eating well as connected with weight loss: Click Here

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