Warning: May be habit forming
There are some things that I just can’t get the knack for. Like remembering to put on sunscreen before a century ride. Or remembering to take my multivitamin in the morning. Some things just don’t come easy to me. I’d probably walk out of my house without my keys if I didn’t need them to unlock my bike (oh, wait. I have done that before, and locked myself out of my house in the process).
So when it comes to certain things, I really have to put forth an effort to make them habit. Fortunately, there are certain other things that are so fun, I make an effort to fit them in. One thing that I’ve gotten really into the habit of: training.
Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to my rest days. And I’m not so addicted to it, like I am to caffeine, that I need it every day – or else. But when I take a break after my A race or even when I have a recovery week, I’m itchin’ to get back into the game. And when I have a disappointing “check” race or a busy week at work, I yearn to spend some serious time in the saddle and on my feet.
There are definitely some tricks into making training a more consistent (and desired) part of the day. I schedule certain workouts, like morning lap swims and afternoon runs, with training friends that will help pour on the peer pressure if I hesitate or skip out of a session. Not only am I being held accountable, but I also use these sessions to catch up with my friends. Over the past few years I’ve started to get bored with just sitting and chatting (I find that I zone out… how rude!)- I think its much easier and enjoyable to be moving and catching up. So, penciling in a long run or two a week with my best friend really keeps me in the loop, and helps with stress relief as well.
I also set aside time to get in the training. Sunday mornings are reserved- I don’t work until the afternoon (yes I know, it’s Sunday. If you’ve been in grad school, you understand). I’m not a pro triathlete, and I can’t imagine spending 30+ hours training (at least, not while trying to finish my dissertation). And since I’m trying to wrap up three years of graduate work in the next few months, well… let’s just say putting the feet up after a 3hour run isn’t really feasible. But, I do the best I can, and bank on the effectiveness of my TriggerPoint Therapy (and splurge every once in a while on active release massage).
I write out my schedule, I post it somewhere I can see every day. I am holding myself accountable by writing my CedarPoint FullRev training plan on the calendar in our kitchen. This weekend, I made a few modifications to my season schedule, and by re-writing the plan, in ink, on the calendar that everyone in my house can see, I feel more committed to accomplishing the daily tasks. Plus, it reminds me when to rest, and reminds me to not throw down too many hard days in a row (which can be tricky to avoid with the swimbikerun).
One caveat of my habits: I don’t do diets. I just try to eat well as best I can. In high school, I developed a silent obsession with food, and I simply stopped enjoying it. There were “good” foods and “bad” foods. I read labels and counted calories and scolded myself for hitting more than a low-ball amount of calories (even though I was running collegiate xc and had upwards of 16hours of run training a week). I’ve since discovered that food is good, and good food is great. I’ve reincorporated meat into my diet in a fierce way after being vegetarian for three years, and luckily, unloading gluten from my meal-worthiness lists has also allowed me to reincorporate dairy, so I no longer have any issues with that. My free reign on food is limited, of course, to my gluten sensitivity, but being that our cupboards are entirely g-free (Baberaham has adopted the same diet), I eat without too much regard. I eat more slowly and deliberately, and I know what goes into everything I eat. I eat fresh foods and whole foods and delicious foods (but I also eat a candy bar if I feel like it). But I’m not counting calories anymore or “saving” any up for a special occasion. I don’t weigh myself or have any pairs of “skinny jeans.” If I want to drink a beer, I buy a six-pack of New Grist (and it might last me a few weeks). If I want a candy bar, I eat a candy bar. If I am hungry for nachos, I eat nachos. And just in case, since long course training is ramped up, I have the freezer stockpiled with ice cream (and did I mention there’s an ice cream stop across the street?).
I make it fun (and make it a destination). Although swimming is my least favorite of the three (probably because its the one I’m least good at!), I am starting to really enjoy swimming, and I’ve been looking forward to my lap swims instead of dreading them. And since I usually train in the pool with friends, we make do with some really fun workouts, like endless relays and time trials. It passes the time and helps me keep track of the laps. And I definitely count the open water swims as a legit swim workout, and those are always fun. With running and biking, its not as difficult for me to have such a good time, and I typically look forward moreso to the intensity workouts than the “filler” recovery runs and aerobic days. But I remind myself that these runs are important too, and I plan out my run before I leave the house so I assure myself the right distance (and I can’t back out of it). That, or- I call a training bud and ask them to come along too.
My “off-season” is not really so much off as it is rest. Recover. Recoup. But I don’t fall out of habit. I still have a plan to follow, but its usually more flexible and includes more free-days where I get to pick a less-focused activity (like snowshoeing or kayaking). I still have friends to run with. I still have good food to eat. I still have beer to drink.
For me, training is the batter that makes the perfect cake. You don’t wanna whip up the batter too hard, otherwise the cake will not be fluffy and delicious. But you don’t want to forget the eggs, or leave the lumps behind. And with longer races, putting in the training the right way and making a habit of doing the right things can make your cake just-right every time.