Sometimes, coaches come from high level athletic backgrounds and so when they enter the “teacher” realm they are retired from their sport. But, in case you didn’t know— this wasn’t the case for me. I was never a collegiate or professional athlete, and never will be. And I don’t have any plans to (ever) retire from endurance sports. I have learned my coaching techniques through a lot of trial and error as an athlete and coach; from other athletes, coaches, and mentors; and through countless hours of reading, listening, watching, and applying. Basically, put—through A LOT of learning.
And although the main reason I continue to train and race is that I sincerely love my sport, one of the other reasons is to continue to learn. I understand the value of the training process in order to be better able to teach and empathize with my athletes.
If you read regularly, you know that this training cycle has been a great teacher. I also believe that I am a better student than the last time I trained for an Ironman (five years ago!)— I am more acutely aware of the multitude of physical, mental, and emotional lessons that I can learn from the daily training processes.
And so for this week I will give you a glimpse in to some more that I have learned in my 15th season of triathlon, while training for my fourth full Ironman race. And of course with some tips on what you can learn from me.
- Ironman training takes a lot of time. But, it is not the time spent actually training that starts to feel overwhelming. It is the all-encompassing nature of the sport when you get to a certain place in the training process. The need for more rest and sleep, the constant preparing and eating food, the necessary focus on daily hydration, and the amount of time spent planning training and resting and eating around other responsibilities, relationships, and activities.
How can you learn from me? Avoid sabotaging your goals by planning ahead. If you work with a coach, note schedule disruptions ahead of time. Create solid habits not just around training, but in all of life. Be realistic when setting goals.
- I sweat a lot.. I already alluded to this last week, but there is not enough chamois cream in the world that can protect me from a very sweaty four and a half hour training ride. I must change shorts halfway through or more. (TMI)—I had literal 6-inch butt scabs that outlined the pad from my shorts (they looked and felt like second degree burns!) I definitely learned to better protect my assets.
How can you learn from me? Be smarter—change your shorts when you feel like something is going awry. Be aware and don’t make assumptions about the weather. And always keep laughing it off when you can.
- For extroverts like me, training is better done in community with others, and this fact was reinforced for me over the past six months. I had never trained alone at this distance and it has been… well, lonely. As I mentioned above, it is not only the time spent training, but my lack of energy left to seek out social events after working, managing a household, and caring for my marriage and family. I miss having more time with my friends!
How can you learn from me? Do hard things, but still honor who you are. Seek out time with people.
- Training and taking care of all that I mentioned above (working full time, managing a household, caring for my marriage and family, and still trying to be a loving and present friend) is hard, yet very possible. It has taken laser focus to redirect myself to come back to the present while diligently caring for my own needs in order to be there for others. Instead of “wasting time,” I try to make good use it to actually rest and recover by intentionally doing what I know is best (like sleeping!). But, it is no doubt challenging, and this gives me an extra layer of empathy to practice with my athletes.
How can you learn from me? Be present. It is not simple, but it is worth trying to redirect and wrestle with your thoughts. Make intentional choices. Practice mindfulness!
- This one is a reminder, but something I have been even more focused on… I need to eat. A lot. And like most women, I have to wrestle with diet culture ideals that influence how I think about food. The more hyper aware I am of this fact, the more it pisses me off and motivates me to want to reach more women on the message of body positivity! (Don’t miss this week’s Feisty article!)
How can you learn from me? Practice loving yourself in the form of body positivity, which includes accepting your flaws and taking care of your basic health needs. EAT. And if you are an endurance athlete eat A LOT. Do not use endurance racing as a diet plan.
I signed up for this race since I guessed that the training process would be hard and race day even harder. And I had an honest feeling in my soul that in order to inspire others I had to make and honor a tougher goal than the ones I had been setting. I believe in the value that triathlon adds to our overall lives, and this value may present itself in ways that we don’t expect.
I believe all of this matters when we open our minds as students of ourselves and others.
**And I hope you enjoyed the style this week! It is a very abbreviated/condensed version of how I wrote my book— coming out later this summer!**