Keep a Training Diary: The How, The Why. 

Do you keep a training diary? When I first started running back in 1995, one of the perks to subscribing to Runner’s World Magazine was getting their free gift — a tiny, simple, “to the point” running journal. 

In the beginning of my running career, I didn’t really know what the point was. I was good about writing my time (back then, I often didn’t know my exact distance, especially if I ran off road), and the type of run and maybe how I felt. 

Over the years, technology has changed, making those simple little running logs obsolete. Strava, MapMyRun, Nike+ Running, TrainingPeaks, etc. now all record your runs for you and more often than not, we’re too busy or caught up to make notes. But then they disappear into technology and we can’t review our notes the same way anyway. 

Recently I purchased the Believe journal by Lauren Fleshman and it’s taken me back into the journaling phase of my life. I’m happy to be writing notes again. 

My blog has also served as a great resource for my own training, particularly race recaps. In fact, last year’s Deschutes Dash race recap is giving me great insight into how I can improve this year. I even went as far as writing a “to-do” list, with things I needed to address before the next triathlon. I’m not ignoring them. In fact, I am happy to realize that without knowing it, I took care of them over the past year. 

2014 Deschutes Dash ReCap
I wrote: 

For Next Time
1. Train more. Just keep training.
2. Have a support system.
3. Wear a visor on the run (I do believe I cursed Bend and said, “why can’t there just be one little effing cloud?!”
4. Figure out digestive woes.. Was this truly nerves, or something I was eating?
5. Ride the bike in the morning just to make sure everything is RACE READY.
6. Figure out a 2-piece tri suit.
7. Practice positive mental thinking.

And guess what?? 

1. I’m a marathon fitter! I bike to/from work, and my training is so much more complete than it was last year, when I was coming back from ground zero. 

2. Between Fleet Feet, my friend Ian, and Team 10 Barrel, I’d say I have an excellent support system. 

3. Improving my fitness has certainly made my heat tolerance better, but yes, I do run with some type of visor on my head. 

4. My digestive issues ended up being a candida overgrowth and I have taken care of it. It’s an ongoing process but I do believe I have I under control now! 

5. Instead of that, I’ll just remain calm and figure out mechanical issues instead of assuming the issue is with me. 

6. I have a tri kit all set! Team 10 Barrel! 

7. I am in a much more positive place in my life. I have come the longest way in this regard. “Find a place inside where there’s joy, and joy will burn out the pain.” – Josh Campbell 

One last piece that I didn’t mention, LOSE SOME WEIGHT! I have lost 15 pounds since Deschutes Dash last year. I am feeling much more fit, mentally and physically. I’m also only racing the sprint this year, which is a different kind of race, and looking forward to it! 

See the benefit of keeping a training journal? It’s great to look back and see what works and what doesn’t, how miles and training volume can help or hurt your progress. If you keep detailed entries, you’ll be able to learn from yourself and know what works and how to be the best version of yourself you can be! 

What kind of journal do you use? 

The Power of the Pedal

I started biking to work June 1st. For a week, I only had a mile commute and it didn’t count but as soon as I got back to Bend and started my real commute of 5.5-miles each way for a total of 11 miles a day, 4 days a week (44 commuting miles a week), things started to happen. 

I just finished my 3rd week of bike commuting. The bike commute has been with a heavier-than-I’m-used-to bike with cargo cages often filled to the brim. My commute has taken me over hot roads, gradual climbs and loose gravel as the paving crews worked to cleanup their chip seal project. I’ve ridden in work clothes (business casual) in dress shoes, without water handy and no matter the temps. 

Today, I rode my TT bike in the middle of a very hot day. I was too excited and just had to ride. First let me tell you about why I was excited, and then I will tell you about the ride itself. 

I belong to Team 10 Barrel but wasn’t able to purchase the team kit when orders were due a couple months ago. And so I missed out. But team kits arrived and a lot of people had sizing issues, and long story short I ended up buying a cycling top off someone from the Boise team. I LOVE IT. I swam with it this morning under my wetsuit to see how it would feel, and if it’s anything I actually want to do in an actual race. It was incredible under the wetsuit. It created extra wiggle room and my shoulders moved freely, making the swim more comfortable. I love it! The only thing is I don’t have tri shorts to match. I don’t need them to match match match but the same color (aka not red, like I have) would be awesome. But tri shorts are pricey. 

 I needed new swim goggles because mine fogged up the whole swim and I have hardly any peripheral vision. It made tracking near impossible. So I headed to Fleet Feet to see what they had in stock. Awesome pair of goggles that claim to do exactly as I requested: no fog, wide peripheral, and as a bonus, polarized for better vision in open water. 

While I was there I decided to browse the tri section and found a pair of Zoot tri shorts on clearance for $24. $24!! That’s so cheap I questioned if the price was mis-marked. 

So today I left with a new 10B uniform and color-matching bottoms, new goggles, excitement for the Deschutes Dash.. And so I was dying to ride! 

I headed out, this time with a sprint-appropriate distance in mind. 12.5 miles seems so short to me. So I banged out 13.5 miles at an average pace of 16.7 miles. Not super fast, not super slow but super, super, super-de-duper hot and fun. 

I got home and checked the weather and it was 93!! I’m sure it was hotter with the black pavement underneath my bike. 

But here’s the thing, the piece de resistance: 

All that bike commuting I’ve been doing has really paid off! I hopped on the bike — my smooth, awesome, fast bike — and started pedaling. Fast. I mean, I only averaged 16.7 mph because I was riding through intersections and roundabouts and in traffic. I was cruising. I felt so good on the wheels, in the aero bars, just gliding along pavement that prior to my bike commuting days, I considered to be rough and bumpy. Bike commuting has considerably contributed to my fitness level, and my tolerance to less-than-perfect pavement surface. I felt more comfortable riding in traffic. I could handle the heat. And in my new tri shorts and team top, I felt awesome.  

I’m pretty excited!! Now to fine tune some running before Deschutes Dash.. And have fun out there, and replace my memories of last year! 


Take Your Mind with You

Ever been frustrated with where you are? Be it weight, fitness, relationship, job, environment, etc.? Whatever the frustration, it’s important to take your mind with you on your journey toward improvement. Don’t leave it behind. 

I’m frustrated with where I am. But something happened today that made me remember where I was last year, and how far I’ve come. Did I leave my mind behind during this change? 

What has changed, really? 

What hasn’t changed? 

Last year, I was not a happy person. I was sick. I was fat. I was unwell. Unhappy in my job. Miserable in my attempts to do anything. This is me at the end of Deshutes Dash, where I cried myself to the finish because I was that unhappy with where I was in life. 

  This is me today. Yes, it’s a different angle but who cares? I’m smiling. I’m on a triathlon team! (Go Team 10 Barrel!) I’m 15 pounds lighter. A marathon fitter. No longer sick. In a job I absolutely love that is bringing me loads of joy and fulfillment. 

It’s okay to have goals, and a desire to be better tomorrow than you are today. But never at the expense of forgetting how far you’ve come from yesterday. Bring your mind with you as you journey toward a happier you. Whenever you feel frustration and discouragement creeping in, that’s when you look in the rearview mirror. Put the smile back on and trudge forward. Your new happy awaits. 

Start Where You Are

Start where you are. 

The mantra that is taking over my life. It’s a welcomed take-over. 

I get ahead of myself a lot. Especially so in triathlon. Like I’m running out of time and I need to prove myself. 

I made the decision tonight to do the sprint triathlon at Deschutes Dash. Not because I can’t do the Olympic but because of my foot pain. I have been biking 11+ miles a day, and I have started swimming in the Deschutes River and the swimming pool. I have been taking t easy on the run (not running) to let my foot heal but I have decided that I need to start running again. I have no proof that not runnin is allowing healing or improvement. I’ll try running and if it makes it worse, then I’ll adapt to that. But training for a sprint tri shouldn’t be super demanding on my foot. 

I’m working on fully adopting the mantra start where you are. Starting now, where I am. 

I checked my Odometer

I started biking to work and it has changed my life. 

Today I checked the odometer on my car, and it read 56 miles. That’s 56 miles since the night I cruised past Sisters on my way home from Portland. The night before I got the bike, I put $20 worth of gas into my car, which pulled it out of the “extreme empty” zone and into the “you’ll need gas again tomorrow” zone if I was going to be driving to work. Especially if I had the 25-mile one-way trip I’ve kept for over a year. I’ve put $10 into my car since, and I have driven a total of 56 miles since that day more than 2 weeks ago! 

Let’s do the math. 

In my previous commute, I was driving 50 miles a day, 5 days a week for a total of 250 commuting miles. That doesn’t include errands, social gatherings, etc. Commuting alone I drove 250 miles a WEEK! 

In my current commute, if I chose to drive to work, I would be driving 7 miles a day, 4 days a week for a total of 28 miles a week. 

It would take me almost 9 weeks to drive similar mileage. 

However, I have been biking to work since day one. My bike commute is about 5 miles to work and 5.5 home (safer to cut through the park & grab the trail on my way home). This means I am biking about 10.5 miles a day. I’m getting about 50-55 minutes of cardiovascular exercise every day, as I make my way to work. 

I also use my bike for groceries, for going to the gym, and even for social outings. In the past two weeks of work, I have biked 75 miles in the commute (had to drive one day), and I have also ridden 20 miles in a spinning class. Plus I have ridden the almost-2 miles to the gym round trip about 3 times. 

I’ve been cranking out the miles! 

So in my first 2 weeks at the new job (not including my week of training at OHSU), I saved my car from 500 miles plus I have ridden an extra 75 miles on my bike. 

The price of gas has snuck up again above $3/gallon and I have saved about 1.5 tanks of gas (or 21 gallons of gas) because of this new job.

You see, I am not just comparing driving to work and biking to work. I could not bike to work in my last position. So finding a job that is within bike-commute distance, I have found major savings. And I’ve already written on the other major comparatives of this new job. 

21 gallons of gas = ~ $60.00 

That’s just 2 weeks worth of savings. If I can bike every day and every week, which I realize is not a possibility, I’d be saving $1560 a year on commuting gas alone. But like I said before, even if I have to drive, it’s 7 miles round trip, not 50. Cha-Ching. 

Consider your commute when you consider your next job. 

Plus all the benefits of the extra daily cardiovascular exercise, fresh air, and overall sense of being completely environmental and bad ass. I rock. 

No really, this bike rocks. 

No really, this new job is the BOMB DIGGITY. 

I’m so happy. 

Discipline + Time = Results

Today I got into the pool for the first time since maybe October. Swimming isn’t my favorite discipline of the three in triathlon, not because I don’t like swimming but because of the three, swimming is the hardest to control and it comes with the least predictability. There’s a lot about the way we are forced to swim that I do no like. 

What I mean by that is, imagine going for a run. You grab your shoes and you head to a hallway where there are several other people hoping to also get in a run. You jump into the hallway and start running. Simultaneously, the person next you did the same. So now you’re both running down the hallway side by side. When you reach the end, you touch the wall, turn around and run back. Now there’s a third person so you’re running in a circle in this hallway. The person in front of you is going literally microseconds per lap slower than you are. So you pass. But then your pace slows and suddenly you’re in his way. Someone across the hall is having a bad day and she starts screaming her head off. Oh, I forgot to tell you. Even though this is a running hallway, kids are allowed to play in it too. They are screaming in joy and frustration. Echoing off the walls. A hall monitor taps you as you go by and informs you that man in front of you has complained that as you pass, you’re brushing up against him and he doesn’t like it. Hallway is closed! It’s thundering. Everyone out. 

I am working on adopting two mantras. One that comes from march wellness center, for which I work (remotely) in Bend. Theirs is, “start where you are.” The other is from my boss (at march wellness). His is, “ride the wave.” 

So today when I got to the pool I didn’t have any expectations. I was planning on swimming about 800 yards or meters — another thing about swimming that is unpredictable and stupid — pool length varies  and I can never remember which is which. I swam 16 laps. With just 5 laps to go, they started moving the pool divider, changing the pool length from 25 (units unknown) to 50 (same unknown units), which then made it impossible for me to get in 5 laps because now I was in a different system. 

Ride the wave.. Despite my lane actually disappearing because the lane line came loose during the process, I managed to keep swimming and I’m sure I got in a tad over 800 (mystical units) and I was happy about that. 

I realized two things as I was swimming today: 

1) my cardiovascular fitness is much better than it was the last time I tried swimming. I was actually feeling it in my arms and lats instead of being winded. 

2) I am at least 10 pounds lighter than I was back then. My suit fit differently and I feel better in so many ways. 

I am wearing my tri shorts over my bathing suit and under a skirt (this is how I rode to the pool on my new awesome commuter bike—to the rest of the world I looked like a rebel without a cause, biking in a skirt). I haven’t worn these tri shorts in a long time because the last time I tried them I was spilling out of them and I could barely breathe. So this is progress. 

This is what happens when you just do what you know you need to do, day in and day out. Measurements help bring progress to your attention but they are not required for progress to actually occur. 

It’s pretty cool. 

This year I’ve finally decided on my race schedule. Two triathlons, both Olympic-distance. Both I did last year, horribly. So I am looking forward to crushing the results (on both) this year! 

Deschutes Dash & Portland Triathlon. Portland Tri is actually sponsored and that feels darn cool. Can’t wait! 

Tomorrow I think I’ll be swimming the river in the afternoon with my friend Ian. It’ll be the first time I’ve swam the river since July of last year? Both tris are in rivers so I need to get it done! 

My goal for the rest of the year is to bite off what I can chew, and actually chew it. Taking my time to get ready for the next season. I want a season of good racing, not just one of finishing. This year, focusing on 2 (shorter) triathlons will help me keep my efforts in check. 

Life is good.. you just gotta keep going! 

Tonight as I lay down my head

Tonight as I lay down my head, I promise to count my blessings. I’ll name them one by one. 

Tonight as I lay down my head, I promise to get out of my own way. I will let life shine its goodness on me. 

Tonight as I lay down my head, I will consciously let go of what happened today. Because my morning what happened today will be in the past. I’m letting it go. 

Tonight as I lay down my head, I seek restful sleep. I promise to wake up with a smile, and to keep that smile on my face all day. 

Tonight as I lay down my head, I can’t help but recognize how good things are. I am extremely grateful, not just for the changes in work, life, play, but for the people who are now in my life. Patient, nurturing, supportive. 

I know the work I do today, on myself and in my profession, is going to make me an incredible person in the future. Today, right now, I have work in front of me. I am learning to be patient with myself. I am learning to unwind and catch my breath and feel confident in who I am. I am being given the time to work on my own wellness so that I can be the best version of myself to help bring out the best version of everyone else. 

Tonight as I lay down my head, I will let gratitude take over my heart and I will wake up tomorrow excited about whatever the day holds.