My 12 Days of Christmas

I was inspired by Carrie Cheadle’s Facebook Post about giving yourself something to make you feel amazing for the 12 days of Christmas this year.   I decided to give myself a “gift” everyday during the 12 days of Christmas….some of these gifts were what Carrie suggested, while others where ones that I came up with on my own.  Each of these gifts is special to me…some of these gifts are very simple and most of them don’t cost even a penny, but they are all gifts we should consider giving ourselves everyday to remind ourselves just how special we truly are.

Day #1:  Write a mini love note to myself  IMG_2705

Day #2:  Gift of Time…30 minutes for just me 🙂

Taking 30 minutes to snuggle up under a cozy blanket with a good book and a cup of hot tea.
Taking 30 minutes to snuggle up under a cozy blanket with a good book and a cup of hot tea (in a mug I won as an award in 2004 at RCC Run the Woods).

Day #3:  Gift of Motivation…I decided to make a motivational collage and post it where I can see it daily.

I created a collage of motivational images
I created a collage of motivational images

Day #4:  Give myself a pat on the back…I don’t give myself enough credit most of the time for all that I do and how amazing I am.  I decided a good pat on the back was in order.

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Day #5: I gave myself a treat.  Something I didn’t have to share with anyone else…

Yes...a shower.  While this may seem to simple for most of you, I was incapacitated for a week due to a combination of strep throat, a severe sinus infection and pneumonia, so a shower felt truly amazing.  It was a small gift, but the best gift I could ask for at the time.
Yes…a shower. While this may seem too simple for most of you, I was incapacitated for a week due to a combination of strep throat, a severe sinus infection and pneumonia, so a shower felt truly amazing!! It was a small gift, but the best gift I could ask for at the time.

Day #6:  I gave myself an award.  Since I ended my 2013 triathlon season with a DNF, I decided with the New Year just around the corner that it is time to start mental training for 2014.

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Day #7: I gave myself a party…not the typical party with lots of people, food and drink, etc.  I gave myself a party with just me and my girls (Mya and Basil…our two black labs).  I played the song “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang, we danced, celebrated (both feeling better and the beginning of a 2 week winter break), smiled and had lots of fun!!

Basil dancing with me and celebrating!!
Basil dancing with me and celebrating!!

Day #8:  Gift of Knowledge…I purchased a book to help me learn how to perform better under pressure, tame the butterflies and overcome setbacks.  I am hoping to use these mental skills to help me perform consistently, remain confident when faced with challenges and successfully accomplish my goals both during training and on race day.

On Top of Your Game

Day #9:  Gift of Perspective…a list of gratitude.  I make a list of things I am thankful for every night before bed, but I decided to put a twist on this list…growth is a must for everything on this list.

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Day #10:  Gift of Encouragement…I wrote out 4 powerful and affirming statements and posted them where I will read them everyday between now and January 1, 2014.  The power of being who I want to be lies in my own thoughts.  Only I can change negative thoughts into positive beliefs.

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Day #11:  Gift of a Toast to Celebrate ME…”I proposed a toast to my strengths, my PRs in 2013, my commitments and dedication.”  I also “proposed a toast to the most relaxing Christmas ever” with the Iron Hippie.

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Toasting the Iron Hippie

Day #12: Gift of Relaxation…I started Christmas morning with 1 hour of hot yoga.  While this is typically in my weekly workout routine, I haven’t been able to workout for the last two weeks due to illness.  I decided that this would be a perfect gift for Christmas Day.

Starting Christmas Day focusing on Mind, Body and Soul...PERFECT!!
Starting Christmas Day focusing on Mind, Body and Soul…PERFECT!!

Merry Christmas Everyone!!

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How to Prepare for Your First Triathlon

The inspiration for this post came from watching the movie How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.  Since I was home most of last week with strep throat, a severe sinus infection and the beginning stages of pneumonia, I had plenty of time to lay around and watch movies and reminisce about my first triathlon.

I decided to write a “How to” guide…How to Prepare for Your First Triathlon:

  1. If you really want to complete your first triathlon, you must make training a priority.  This will help you remain injury free and properly prepare you to toe the start line.
  2. Set aside time for your training…make an appointment with yourself.  You should spend a minimum of 30 minutes a week on swimming, cycling and running…that is only 1.5 hours a week.  (Training each discipline twice a week for a minimum of 30 minutes each is ideal.)  If you don’t think you have that much time to commit to training, take a look at how much time you spend watching television, surfing the internet, reading a book, etc.  I bet you can find more time to train for a triathlon than you thought.
  3. Determine your goals for your first triathlon.  Pick a distance that is realistic for the amount of time you plan to spend training on a weekly basis and how many weeks you have until race day.  I would not recommend picking an IRONMAN as your first triathlon 😉
  4. Build a solid base…if you have not been active or have little to no experience with one (or more) of the disciplines of triathlon, you may find it REALLY challenging (and risk injury) if you go out and swim a 1/2 mile, cycle 12 miles and run 3 miles (these are the rough distances for a sprint triathlon).  To help you successfully toe the start line of your first triathlon, you should research training plans, find a triathlon community, and/or hire a knowledgable coach to write a training plan for you.
  5. Incorporate strength training into your workout routine.  Strength training helps prevent injury, builds bone density, strengthens the joints, tones the body, and allows you to be strong and healthy on race day.
  6. Proper recovery is important…make sure to have days and weeks built into your training plan that are not as taxing on your body.  Recovery days and weeks will allow your body to repair itself stronger than it was before you broke it down with the tough training sessions.
  7. Practice, practice, practice…open water is different than pool swimming, swimming in a pack of people is different than swimming in open water, swimming in a wetsuit is different than swimming without one, transitioning from the bike to run often gives people jello legs, consuming fluids and nutrition on the bike and run are different than consuming nothing…anything that is new and different from what you have ever experienced should be practiced, so you have an idea of what to expect on race day.
  8. Find a triathlon community…it is great to have a community of people who will help hold you accountable to complete your workouts, people you can train with (especially for open water swimming and riding on the roads), people you can ask questions of, people you can talk to about what you are experiencing in training and racing, people you can talk with about gear, nutrition, safe riding and running routes, etc.
  9. Remember to have fun…your journey to the start line may be challenging at times, but it should almost always be fun and rewarding!!

TriathletesNow…who’s ready to do their first triathlon??????

Pros and Cons of You AND Your Spouse Training for the Same IRONMAN Race

The Iron Hippie and I are both registered for IRONMAN Wisconsin 2014.  We are just a few short weeks away from the start of our second IRONMAN Journey.  We both trained for and raced IRONMAN Wisconsin 2011, so we know what most of the pros and cons are of training for and racing the same event.  We’ve decided that finding balance is critical to a successful IRONMAN Journey.  Let’s start with the cons so we can finish on a much more positive note 🙂

Cons:

  1. When we both finish a long, hard workout, it is easy for us to go out for dinner instead of cooking a healthy meal at home.  This training season, we are focusing more on preparing meal plans and having left overs available in the refrigerator/freezer to quickly reheat after long, hard workouts.
  2. When one of us is in a crabby mood (from a hard training week, lack of sleep, stress, etc.) the other person gets the brunt of our bad mood.
  3. When we are both in full training mode, we both tend to neglect household chores until they MUST be done…laundry, dishes, cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, etc.
  4. Date night has often revolved around our workouts.  This training season we have set aside Monday evenings for completing household chores and date night every other week.  We have started to implement this now, so when we are in full IRONMAN training mode, it is already a habit.
  5. We have to coordinate with each other regarding multiple feats…our training and racing calendar, workouts, planning time to visit family and friends, letting the dogs out, planning and preparing meals, bed times, wake up times, etc.
  6. We spend a LOT more money when we are both training and racing…race fees, lodging at these races, food, sports nutrition, gear (extra tubes, CO2 cartridges, running shoes, apparel, etc.), transportation to race events, etc.

Pros:

  1. We both have a very good idea of what the other is going through during challenging training weeks, recovery weeks and the taper.
  2. We are both very aware of the importance of eating to train instead of training to eat…we help each other eat healthy and consume MASSIVE amounts of healthy foods…especially after challenging workouts or long training weeks.
  3. We both have similar training schedules (we use the same coach, who writes separate training plans for each of us, and she helps coordinate some of our workouts for us) since we are training for the same race.  We are both gone for relatively the same amount of time each day to complete our workout(s)…our long rides are on the same day, our long runs are on the same day, etc.
  4. We are both much more conscious of going to bed early and getting enough sleep to help energize us for our next workout(s).
  5. We feed off of each other’s positive energy and support each other…if one of us is in a training slump, the other one is there to help motivate and encourage the other.
  6. We both help each other with the household chores…dishes, laundry, cleaning house, mowing the lawn, tending to the dogs, etc.
  7. We both understand the importance and advantages of mental preparedness…we communicate with each other to help each other find effective ways to prepare mentally for tough workouts and race day.
  8. We both can relate to the other’s obsessiveness in preparing for race day…laying out every possible piece of gear, nutrition, etc. a whole week+ in advance.
  9. On race day, we are both out on the course racing our own race, which allows us to stay relaxed…it is much easier to be an athlete than a spectator on race day 🙂
  10. We get to share in each other’s accomplishments and achievements…both during training and racing.
We survived Ironman Wisconsin 2011...Time to do it better in 2014!!
The Iron Hippie and I survived IRONMAN Wisconsin 2011…Time to do it better in 2014!!

Taper Time

The dreaded TAPER!!
The dreaded TAPER!!

I HATE the taper!!  I know I should be resting to allow myself to properly recover from all of the long training hours I have done, but mentally, my mind says I should be going, going, going!!  With only 9 days to race day, I am starting to feel the anxiousness of the taper.  During the taper, I typically get sick, but this time I have been filling my body with healthy, whole foods, lots of vitamins, minerals and probiotics.  So far, I have been able to fend off any potential illness heading my way.

I’m excited for race day!!  It has been a few years since I have run a stand-alone marathon, so I am a little nervous.  I know I will successfully finish.  Then why am I nervous you might ask?  That is an easy answer…I have a time goal in mind for finishing this marathon.  Hopefully the nerves will fuel a performance that will allow me to achieve my goal.

Little Rock Marathon…I hope you’re ready…HERE I COME!!