Sunday, December 14, 2014

A busy week!

This week was mostly a good one, but really busy. I logged my food about 1 out of every 2 days. I had my birthday and did a lot more eating out at restaurants than usual. It was the last week of classes and we had graduation this weekend, plus I had required edits on an accepted conference proposal.  This week, I need to get my grades turned in and work on 2 syllabi.

I squeezed in a Weight Watchers meeting so I could hear about all these "big changes," and... yawn. Not that big. I do like the emphasis on the Power Foods and the new realistic tone, but most of the changes seem to be a change of style and emphasis rather than a big change of program. The biggest change is that you can pay extra for one-on-one virtual coaching.  If I'm paying for coaching, it's going to be triathlon coaching.

I was supposed to train 7 hours and 30 minutes this week but only got in 5 hours and 40 minutes. "Only" seems like a weird word in that sentence, but I have a big race to train for.  I have next week's training plotted out and I think I'll actually get more than the 7 hours and 30 minutes planned, because I'll add in some strength work.

I read the first chapter of Racing Weight in a spare moment and found it a bit of a revelation. The author, Matt Fitzgerald, describes just how much impact excess weight has on racing performance:
Excess body fat is the enemy of performance in every endurance sport. For example, a runner weighing 160 pounds has to muster about 6.5 percent more energy to run the same pace as a runner weighing 150 pounds. 
He goes on to describe running on a treadmill that simulates a lighter body. He felt much fitter at 90 percent of his body weight and found it made him feel fitter and made running feel "like normal running, only so much better."

If a relatively thin and fit athlete like him feels that, I can't imagine what would happen if I could suddenly be at my Weight Watchers goal weight, which is about 85% of my current weight.  I found the idea motivating.  But then I tried his racing weight estimator, which suggests that at 44, I should weigh what I did when I was in my peak condition in college, and yet have an even lower body-fat percentage. So we will just pretend that didn't happen.

I feel light and graceful and powerful in the water, and even on my bike, I feel like I can really crank the pedals.  As a runner, I feel like a lumbering, sweaty mess, almost as if some kind of aquatic animal was forced up on land. Oddly, I still enjoy running if I can ignore that feeling.  But what if I could feel light and graceful and powerful when I ran?  I'm not sure it's possible, but it sounds worth making an effort for.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Happy 44th Birthday to Me!

I don't look a day over 22, do I? 
When I was a kid, I hated that my birthday is in December, but I've grown to like it. I have a Christmas tree in my house this morning, I'm enjoying a quiet cup of coffee, and my classes are almost over. It's sort of nice starting that end-of-year reflection early -- it gives me a little jumpstart.

I had a bit of a hard year this year with my dad's illness and passing. But there were lots of bright spots too. I think this year I learned to appreciate the good things in each passing moment in a way that I hadn't always been able to before.

I have big hopes for the year ahead. Signing up for that big race is what I needed to change my perspective on training -- I had just been slogging away at it, hoping to take off the excess pounds without any other real focus. The races I was doing were too easy to make me feel really motivated for the training itself, so it was all about calories. I feel like the training has taken on a new meaning now -- I can see what I'm building.

I have started to work on some other goals too. It may take a while for those to snap into focus. There are some changes I'd like to make, but mostly, I love my life.  I'm feeling very blessed this morning.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Meeting with a triathlon coach

Note: This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

I met with a triathlon coach last night to discuss my race goals. To my surprise, she didn't sound doubtful I could do what felt to me like a very ambitious schedule. Instead, she clearly thought I should commit to just do the half and not the aqua bike

She's a five-time Iron finisher. I guess that I shouldn't have been surprised that she has high expectations. I'm just used to people looking at me and thinking, "not an athlete."

I got a little overwhelmed seeing all the hours of training I'll need to do sketched out at once.  And of course, I'm a little afraid my body won't hold up. She did tell me that part of the problem was that I wasn't training strategically -- I just kept ramping up my training instead of backing down periodically.

Another thing that overwhelmed me was the stuff that she suggested I buy or think about buying. In fact, I started to write this post as a Triathlete Gift Guide, but quickly realized that some of this stuff, like a power meter, is too technical for me to really understand and make recommendations. The two I am most seriously thinking about are:

A GPS watch and heart rate monitor.  Since the Garmin Forerunner 920XT came out, it is possible to get some pretty good deals on the Forerunner 910XT, the past reigning champion. But Garmin also seems to be getting some competition from the Polar V800. I'm hoping that the competition might inspire some more competitive pricing. There are also good options available that are a step down in price, including the Polar M400.

A TrainingPeaks Premium upgrade. The upgrade allows an athlete to plan future workouts and sync to an Outlook or Google calendar -- both really valuable features for me. There are also premium-only analysis tools and graphs. I'm a little annoyed at myself that I missed the chance to upgrade for 25% off on Cyber Monday, but I was sure I was going to stick to paper logging.

I hate that this is such an expensive sport. I think a lot of people enjoy the gearhead aspect of it, but I don't have the income to enjoy spending $300-$400 on a single piece of equipment.  I just dropped $130 on a new pair of triathlon bike shoes because the $100 pair I bought three years ago are too small and are making my feet numb. And found out in the process that the cleats for my clipless pedals are almost worn through and will need to be replaced this spring. I try to remind myself that the work is the important part, and that I don't need to squeeze every last minute off my time.

The coaching, though, was probably a good investment.  I needed help organizing my training, especially because I'm stepping up to bigger events.

Follow PerfectImperfect's board Triathlon Gift Guide on Pinterest.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Changes coming to Weight Watchers

I have heard rumors about the changes coming to Weight Watchers and even saw a blog post that was published prematurely (and taken down) that outlined some of the changes coming.  The biggest change, as far as I can tell, is stylistic:

This commercial captures so much about the complicated, emotionally-charged relationship most of us have with food. And it's not as simple as knowing that you are doing it -- most people who are emotional eaters are somewhat aware of it, but the food-mood connection is culturally embedded. Even a book I was listening to about changing unhealthy behavior patterns suggested walking away from an emotionally-charged encounter with a relative at a family party to "have some of Mom's deviled eggs." The fact that the authors of a "Recovery Lite" book suggested food as a way to avoid a scene, even though they talk about unhealthy eating behaviors in other places in the book, tells you everything you need to know about how difficult this behavior is to root out.

I like my Weight Watchers leader because she acknowledges that it isn't always easy to follow the program. She jokes about weighing in in her nightgown, and I'm pretty sure she's serious.  My beef with Weight Watchers was always that there was no acknowledgement of the struggle. It was as if someone thought that we just needed to learn that carrots were healthier than carrot cake and that the whole bag is not usually the portion size, and we'd magically drop all our unwanted pounds, chanting poems about "Ten Little Weight Watchers" as we cheerily exit the meeting room, picking up two or three boxes of Snack Bars on our way out:
We want a down-to-earth leader that knows that no matter how many times you chant, "It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle change," you still have to eat less food to lose weight, and that it sucks sometimes. We need a leader who can agree with us that it sucks, but gently and firmly tell us we still are going to have to do it anyway. It would be a bonus if she could give us some realistic advice on how to do that.
I'm glad to see things moving more in that direction. I wonder what they are going to do with the chirpy ones.  Maybe there will be a sort of re-education program?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Logging, revisited

I need to log my triathlon workouts and progress. After my initial review, I had decided to try the Beginner Triathlete app, but it just didn't capture my interest.

A local coach I have considered working with uses the Training Peaks app, so I decided to play around with it on my computer. I decided to take advantage of the 7-day trial the premium version, and I was having fun planning out workout ideas and playing with it.  Then I thought, maybe I could just use the basic version. The one thing I wanted that the basic version does not include -- you guessed it -- is the ability to plan out workouts ahead of time. So I think I will be investing in that if I stay interested through the free trial period.

It also connects with Garmin Connect, should I ever get a compatible device. I still feel a little iffy about spending that kind of money on one, at least as long as my heart rate monitor is still working. I am kind of hoping someone I know will get the new fancy one and be looking to unload an older version for cheap. I put one on my Elfster wish list, just in case there is ever one of those contests where you win your wish list there....

Friday, November 28, 2014

I blame it on the wetsuit

Let's recap:

On Sunday, I did a hard swim workout, race day. This was super-fun and I enjoyed challenging myself.

On Monday, I did a 20-minute run at 7 a.m. and then a hard bike ride at 7 p.m.  Fine so far -- I took it a little easier on the bike ride because I was tired from the run.

On Tuesday, I did a rowing class at 7 a.m. I knew that I was tired from the day before and I had some weird aches and pains. I told myself I would take it easy and just enjoy the workout. Then I got caught up in the class, and the instructor cheering me on, and "went for it."

"It" turned out to be back pain.  I have never in my life felt so bad. I limped through the rest of the day -- I had work to do and meetings until 4 p.m., and then I went home to lean on an icepack and watch Mad Men reruns.

I still had some thoughts of trying to do the 5K I was scheduled to do on Thursday. I thought I would be back to normal the next day.

I woke up Wednesday with some soreness but could walk without pain, mostly. I took it easy most of the day, doing normal activity but no working out. I had family in town and picked up my nephew and felt a twinge, but other than that, was feeling better.  I picked up my packet. I went to bed and set the alarm as if I were going to the race.

Thursday morning I knew I shouldn't do the race. I thought about walking, but as we can see from my history, telling myself to take it easy is not a reliable strategy. If I tried to walk, I might run and then I might hurt myself and miss my chance to enjoy time with my family. No way.

Today it's Friday and I am still sore. I am thinking that setting my big goals caused me to overreach a bit. I need to find a balance between being motivated and being a lunatic.  I know that it is possible. I just have to give myself permission to be a badass only ONCE per 24-hour period.

But the wetsuit does look a bit like a superhero outfit, so I think it's an easy mistake to make.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Why I'm NOT representing Enell at a Turkey Trot this morning

Living turkey

I was supposed to be running a turkey trot right now in my role as Enell Brand Ambassador. Instead, I'm on the sofa, babying my sore back.

I overdid it this week. Instead of doing a taper like a sane person, I did two workouts on Monday, a run and a hard bike ride. Then I went to a rowing class, and got a little carried away.  I didn't feel it during the workout, but when I stopped and stood up, I was in excruciating pain.

I'm definitely grateful NOT to have pain like this most of the time. I don't know how people function. I had to work all day, and was hobbling because it hurt to walk or stand.  People asked me all kinds of questions about whether it was muscular or skeletal -- I didn't know because I had never had real back pain before.

I took it easy when I got home from work, watching Mad Men reruns while leaning on an icepack.  The next day I woke up sore but I could walk. Today my back is tender but not terrible.  I considered going to the race and trying to walk, but I know myself too well -- I'd get carried away and want to run. I don't want to risk re-injuring myself. Once I decided to bail I was sure it was the right decision.

At least the entry fee went to a great cause, Hospice of Northwest Ohio.  I will find an opportunity to make this up and represent Enell when I'm healthy and fit.

"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07