The past few weeks I have been able to gain some traction as the weather has begun to blossom, race season has begun again, and summer is less than a week away (#academia). The time I took this semester to cease burning the candle at both ends, gain control over my health and step back from competition (and the mindset) is something I wish I would have done years ago. No time like the present!
I have really enjoyed sharing this experience, and I will continue to share it. It’s a blessing of a “problem” to have, but these are challenges many of us in the multisport world have felt so strange about. In a world of half naked social media posts bragging about 800 mile rides in hurricane winds…. there is a lot of shaming that goes around.
But only if you LET it shame you.
We all live actual lives behind these posts and I am more than willing to share the reality of struggles. I know I am not alone in this, but I do want to share that this is…. life. Life HAS ebbs and flows. Life HAS good and bad days. Don’t get too excited about the good ones, don’t get too devastated by the bad ones. Learning to ride the even keel and be good to yourself, is really the true art of navigating a life.
Self care has been the theme of my past few months. Without trying to sound like a martyr… it’s something I historically haven’t been good at. I am a mother, I am a wife, I am a nurse, I am an educator, I am a coach. Nothing in the personality trends of those titles entails “putting yourself first”.
A few weeks ago I shared some of the things I have been doing, which have made worlds of difference. I wanted to try to capture them in a list again and add on some more. This journey has been absolutely fantastic in terms of the exploration of it all, the process, and most of all, the results.
It’s interesting….. self care is a magnet. You start by taking small steps, whether it’s sleep or nutrition….. and the result of those small steps is feeling amazing in your every day life. That result….. becomes the magnet for why you get good sleep, why you eat good food. Nothing on earth compares to that feeling of feeling awesome. The better I feel these days the more I realize how I stretched myself so thin before. I am better in all of my roles because of the small steps I take, to take care of myself first.
1. Sleep first: When I plot out my week of training, my week of life…. I actually prioritize sleep first. Now remember who you are talking to. I used to beat my chest about how my 4 hours of sleep per night was all I needed. I worked 12 hour night shifts and rode 100 miles afterwards more times than I want to admit. Getting proper sleep is actually the biggest and most important thing I have done to regain my health this semester.
I recently listened to a great podcast featuring Arianna Huffington and he sleep movement. Click here for it and show notes. I had to work to put aside the fact that she’s a billionaire businesswoman who the world revolves around (almost literally). Once I did that I thought her message was excellent and her research into the topic of sleep was solid (I am a bit of a PubMed geek).
I don’t track my sleep with any devices. I know how well I have slept based on how I feel. I don’t bring devices into the bedroom, no screens, no phones, no nothing. I refuse to utilize a sleep tracker because I don’t need technology everywhere in my life. I don’t care how LONG I sleep, I care HOW I sleep and I have finally learned the environment I need to achieve that. It’s actually simple. I am a nurse, I can sleep on a highway.
2. I dialed back training: I did this a few months ago actually. I am averaging 10 hours of training per week in a mixture of 3 swims, 4 bikes, 4 runs, 4 strength training sessions. Most workouts are around 30 minutes each, which is a giant step back from what I have been doing for years. My running volume is increasing however as I am working on that this summer. I am getting back to some road racing starting in August. This step back…. has been crucial for me.
3. Nutrition evolution: I have been in recovery from Bulimia Nervosa for about 20 years now, but I can never ignore that part of my history. I was really sick when I was active with it. I have always focused on very healthy eating, I learned to cook a few years ago. I have experimented with Paleo and plant powered trends of nutrition. I won’t ever be super strict with what “camp” I fall into in terms of how I eat, but boy people LOVE to argue over it.
Think about this: if I tell someone I am going to go out and get drunk I will get celebrated. If I tell someone I eat plant powered they FREAK out about my protein intake. Dr. Garth Brooks is one of my favorite people on the topic of protein (click here for a great podcast and great show notes about his work). If you do your research you will discover that you can easily satisfy any protein macro with fruits and vegetables. In my entire life I have only ever seen ONE classification of people who are truly protein deficient. People who are suffering from famine. Trust me no American is suffering from lack of protein. Do your research.
With that being said I am not strict in either camp. I feel better when I trend to a more plant based diet. At the same time I am ever so careful not to fall into a strict regimen of disordered eating. That’s as much of an issue as binging and purging is.
This all goes back to, the better I fuel the better I feel. I am addicted to how good I feel therefore I fuel my body really well.
It’s been a really great journey. As a 42 year old athlete I feel like I am reinventing myself, rediscovering the good things in life and my dreams are evolving. I am aiming to get back to competition in August (with running) and my heart is leading me back to triathlon. Maybe this fall, maybe next spring. I am working towards it.
This season off has been amazing and it’s just getting started.