Monthly Archives: January 2017

Just Keep Swimming

Although I haven’t raced a full triathlon in almost 5 years, I have kept up with the sport by participating as a relay swimmer.  Swimming has always been my best of the three disciplines, and is definitely my favorite.  I actually stopped swimming for over two years because my new gym didn’t have a pool; I noticed the negative affect it was having on me, so I rejoined my old gym and got back in the pool this year.  It has been awesome!Screenshot_2017-01-31-12-28-27-1.png

When it comes to running, and much more so biking, I am the one usually asking advice. When it comes to swimming, people generally ask me.  Now that we are coming into tri season, a few of my friends have reached out with basic swimming questions.  I figured it made for a good time to do a Swimming 101 post 🙂

Swimming 101

  1. Know how to swim!- This may seem obvious but having both volunteered at and participated in triathlon, I see all too often that not everyone who is in the water actually knows how to swim.  At one event where I was life-guarding, I had to get to a guy quickly as I could see him struggling to find footing.  As he grabbed my kayak, he said to me, “Wow, I didn’t realize swimming was so hard.”  He then admitted he had not swam outside of a shallow end before.  Ever.  Ranking safety among everything else you must know that if you cannot swim, and you enter water, you could drown. Many summers ago, I wrote a whole post on this, which you can read here.
  2. Practice open water swims- Very likely, your swim training will mostly consist of pool work.  This is perfectly acceptable but not for sole water training, unless you are planning on only indoor triathlons.  Otherwise, plan to spend time in the open water.  Open water consists of a lake, a bay or an ocean.  In a pool, you have the luxuries of pushing off, using the lane lines for sight and being able to stand if tired.  Those luxuries are gone in the open water.  The open water is dark (no sight lines) and far more rough than a pool, especially in the ocean where you have to contend with waves and currents.  Additionally, in a race situation there are people all around you and you have to fight through paddling arms and kicking legs.  (Not to mention, all the livings things that call open water their home!)  Try to find community OWS so that you get a real feel for race day.  And please, never swim in open water alone.
  3. Invest in good goggles- Good goggles are a must have!  And you don’t have to spend a lot of money for a quality pair as goggles are relatively on the cheap side.  Considering what you will put out for a bike, goggles are a drop in the bucket! Each person is different so there is no one pair that fits all; the most important things are comfort and visibility.  My favorites are by Aquaphere; I have both the Kaiman’s and Kayenne’s.  They are both comfortable, but I tend to use my Kayenne’s more often because provide me more wider field of view and my eyelashes don’t not touch the lens even if I have mascara on.  My best advice is to buy from a store with a good return policy and try out multiple pairs.
  4. Learn to breath bilaterally- This is the most efficient way of breathing during a swim.  It is easy to get in the habit of only breathing on one side, but breathing bilaterally will help you balance your stroke.  Additionally, looking left and right in the open water will help you sight better and keep in line with the swim path.  As an added bonus, bilateral breathing eliminates stress on both your shoulders and hips.  I was a one-sided breather for a long time and it was tough to break the habit, but once I did my swimming improved greatly.  Learn this way so you don’t have to re-teach yourself later!  My advice is to work on breathing techniques using the kick-board and slowly introduce the bilateral laps to your pool work outs.
  5. Wear a wetsuit- Before I get into this, I have to admit, I wearing a wetsuit is not my preference!   I never felt I needed one because I am confident and unafraid with my swimming; I got one, and have used it in the past, because I do not have a desire to swim in freezing water without protection.  There have been a handful of races wherein I am very, very, thankful for my wetsuit.  Given the option, I would rather just not deal with it.  However, for beginners, a wetsuit can act as somewhat of a safety net because they will keep you boyant and you can more easily float if necessary.  Furthermore, because of the added boyancy, they also make you faster. That is the added bonus I definitely DO like about a wetsuit!  X-Terra almost always has a sale, so I could check them out.

Are there any swimming questions you have that I did not answer?

Week In Review: January 21-27

Saturday: 2.8 tempo run on the treadmill.

Sunday: Planned rest day

Monday: My usual Monday group run was cancelled due to bad weather.  I didn’t want to be out, so it was two rest days in a row for me.

Tuesday: 1600 meter swim; alternating kick board with pull buoy.

Wednesday: My friend and I started a “no one finishes alone” group run- 3.8 miles but then added a few to go back and pick up the back. The total was a little over 5 and it was a great night!

Thursday: Swam 2,000 meters.  Planned on 1,600 but was feeling good so kept going.  Broke it into 300’s with 100 pull buoys in between.

Friday: 5k on the treadmill.

Weekly High: Feeling so good about my swimming!

Weekly Low: Missing a Monday.

Three things I am grateful for this week:

  1. Running with friends- it is making such a difference for me!
  2. Work friends, for keeping me sane during the day!
  3. It is getting lighter out now on my commute in…soon it’ll be light when I leave!

Quote of the week: 

Image result for motivational fitness quotes

Week In Review: January 14-20

Saturday: Got back to lifting and then had a great 2.5 mile tempo run on the treadmill!

Sunday: Planned rest day

Monday: Took advantage of my day off to get my first two-a-day in a very long time! Swam a mile in the morning and the met my friend Megan for a 4 mile loop around the local park.

Tuesday: Swam 1000 meters.  100 warm up, 4 x 100 free alternating with 4 x 100 with pull buoy.  2 x 50 sprints to end.  So tired from the day before and it showed.

Wednesday: Planned rest day. Got a new hair do 🙂

Thursday: Met up with some friends for a 3.5 mile run.  Legs are definitely tired this week!

Friday: Planned rest day to enjoy happy hour with work friends 🙂

Weekly High: My best workout week in years- twice I wanted to bag it, but I pushed through!

Weekly Low: Donald Trump became President today.  It scares the shit out of me.

Three things I am grateful for this week:

  1. We had Obama/Biden for 8 years.  I will miss them fiercely.
  2. Alcohol & friends.  I will be spending time with both this w
  3. Working out- definitely my release and much needed this week!

Quote of the week: 

hope

Bucket List- De-Clutter My House

High up on my bucket list but perpetually at the bottom of my priorities, is my desire to de-clutter my house.  Clutter has been an issue in my life since I was old enough to have things.  I have always been a collector and a messy person.  (Messy, not dirty.)  As a messy collector, I have always had to walk that fine line between being a pack-rat and being a hoarder.  I am convinced there is a difference, but I am also convinced that living with less clutter means living more serenely.  And who doesn’t need some serenity!

Of course, wanting to do something and actually doing it are two different things.  I have WANTED to be a neater person for years.  In each new apartment, and later my house, I loved being able to start fresh and for a few months I would do great.  Then, just like that…so much stuff.  I have never lived completely unpacked.  I have been in my house for close to 5 years.  Five years, and I still have boxes.  This is ridiculous folks.  I am finally ready to start making things happen!

Since I have already failed 249387 times, I knew the first thing I had to do was find a new plan.  I did some research and the book by Maria Kondo, the life-changing magic of tidying up, kept resurfacing.  Then, within days of that search, two different friends posted about it on Facebook, with PROOF of their own accomplishments.  That gave credit directly to the book.  I was certain, I needed this book.  Plus, it serves a double purpose since reading more was one of my resolutions.

So, I got the book.  Now, I just have to open it up 🙂

Are you a neat or messy person?  Are you easily attached to items?

Week In Review: January 7-13

Saturday: Ran 2 miles.  They WAY underplayed the snowstorm here (do they ever get it right?) so my choices were run in the snow or miss.  Missing was not an option, especially since it was one year since my car accident.  It was about half of what I planned, but I was still proud of myself for getting out there!

Sunday: Said snow was now ice.  No bueno for me and driving, so I had to miss my planned swim.

Monday: Ran just under 3 miles with my HRC group run.  I love this group and this run!  We usually do a 5k but this week we had to cut it a bit short due to icy roads.  It wasn’t the coldest run ever (that belongs to Philly 2008) but it was pretty bitter.  Luckily, I sweat like a dude, so I get warmed up fast!

Tuesday: Swam 1400 meters.  Finally back in the pool! 200 warm up, 5 x 150 free with 50 kicks and 200 cool down.

Wednesday: Planned rest day

Thursday: 2.8 mile tempo run.  Ummm…last weekend it snowed. This weekend it is going to snow.  But today…today was 67 degrees!!  I wore a tank top 🙂  (But yeah, no such thing as Global Warming. No, definitely not.)

Friday: Swam 1200 meters. 100 warm up, 5 x 200 free,  2 x 50 sprints.  I was so tired, so pretty impressed I still made it to the gym!  We had our annual community service day with rollerskating in the afternoon, so I got in a workout there, too!

Weekly High: Do you even have to ask…65 degrees!!!

Weekly Low: Do you even have to ask?  7 inches of snow!

Three things I am grateful for this week:

  1. Nice weather in the middle of a long winter.
  2. Our annual Community Service weekend was a success!
  3. Group runs that keep me accountable.

Quote of the week: 

It is so hard in cold weather, but I keep telling myself this:

fitness

I used to write my reviews Monday-Sunday. Now, I am doing Saturday-Friday.  Even though Monday feels more like a start, Friday just feels more like an “end” to me.  How do you determine your week?

2017 Fitness Goals

I suppose it would be best for me to get this post done before the first month of the year is behind us.  To me, goals are different than resolutions.  It took me a while to come up with mine for the year.  I have trouble at times with keeping up with the Jones’ so to speak. When I hear other peoples goals, I tend to want to push harder and sometimes my goals are unrealistic.  I also struggle with my indecisiveness, even with goal setting!  I do not want to underestimate myself, but at the same time, I do not want to overestimate either.

After much thought, I came up with the following three for the year:

1- Stay injury free: I mean duh, right?  Isn’t that everyone’s goal?  Except, I don’t just mean to not get hurt.  In my past, there have been both unavoidable and avoidable injuries.  There was honestly nothing I could have done about my broken foot, or my car accident.  But when it comes to my IT band and my shin splints, I know there is more I can do to be preventative.  Additionally, since my car accident, I have had to deal with a lot of tightness in my back, so daily stretching is even more important than ever.  So while I know there are no guarantees, my goal is to take care of myself in such a way that I reduce my chances of getting injured.

2- Complete one race every month for the year: Having a race planned, makes training easier.  For example, twice last week I ran, when I would have normally bailed.  One day it as snowing and on the other day, it was 22 degrees and I ran outside!  I am accountable to staying on schedule for my training and if I didn’t have races to look forward to, excuses would come easier. So far, I have races planned for January, February, March, April, May, June, Oct & Nov.  Pretty good if you ask me 🙂  Distance doesn’t matter, just looking to compete against myself at least once a month!

3- Complete two half-marathons:  The last time I ran 13.1 was November of 2014.  It was ugly.  I was unprepared and uninspired.  It was not a fun time.  It was when I finally admitted that I was truly burned out and had to take a nice long break from racing.  My next race was just this past October, almost a full two years later.  Now, I am ready to conquer the 13.1 again!  I’ll be running the Wildwood half in May and I am planning another for the fall, although I haven’t determined which one yet.

In addition to the three main goals, I really do what to focus on strength training and I also want to get back into spinning.  Lastly, I want to continue doing well with my sugar in-take and get on a better sleep scheduled.  Doing both of those things will certainly reflect back into my fitness!

What are your fitness goals?  Do you set goals by the year, or do you break them down?

Tracking Workouts

When I first started training, I used to do a week in review.  It was basically a way to track my workouts, how I felt in general and to constantly keep track of my goals.  When I stopped blogging, I also stopped tracking my workouts.  I never picked it up again and didn’t think much of it until recently.  I realized it was probably one of the most important posts I wrote each week.  Probably not the most exciting for readers, but the most necessary for myself.  I went back onto Finishing is Winning and read some past reviews. It made me happy to re-read those reviews because I feel like I am finally getting back to where I was when I was at my best.  It has been such a long road (I hate to keep repeating that, but it is true) and I am so proud to finally be working my way back to my best self.  I have missed that girl a lot.  Now that I am really back into training, with multiple races on the docket, I think this is the best way to keep myself accountable.  I always ended them with a weekly high and weekly low reflection, along with three things I am grateful for each week and a quote.  I happen to think this weeks quote is perfect 🙂

Saturday: Off, but I celebrated NY Eve by eating my weight in cookies and drinking too much red wine 🙂

Sunday: 2 miles running- last thing I wanted to do but had could not let the day go by without doing something, especially because it was beautiful out. Happy New Year!!!

Monday: 600 meters swimming- freestyle.  My first time swimming laps in a pool in almost three years!  I have missed swimming so much and it felt amazing to be back in the water!

Tuesday: Ran 2.5 miles, easy. Treadmill, because it was pouring!!!

Wednesday: 750  meters swimming- 4 x 100 free,  2 x 100 with kick board and ended with 3 x 50 meter sprint repeats.

Thursday: OFF

Friday: 1000 meters swimming- 5 x 200 freestyle repeats. Not a bad way to end the work week.

Weekly High: Getting back in the water!!

Weekly Low: Just how tired I was the whole week.  I am getting back on track but still staying up too late.

Three things I am grateful for this week:

  1. Getting back in the pool!
  2. My 856 running and tri groups that keep me accountable.
  3. Coffee!!!!!

Quote of the week: 

Image result for quotes about getting back on track

I know I said I was going to get away from the weekly posts, but I think this one is important. It is the perfect way to start the New Year and stay accountable, so they are back!

How did you start off the year?

Resolutions

I am not really big on New Year resolutions- I feel like you can change anytime, regardless of the date on the calendar.  With that said, I do always like to use the New Year as a time to reflect and think about some of the things I want to accomplish in the upcoming year.

  1. I think I finished all of three books this year.  Sad.  I need to make reading more of a priority and do something with the stack of unread books next to my bed!  The goals is one book a month and do review the said book on the blog as a way to keep myself accountable.  I should probably get started on January!
  2. Write more.  Duh.  Kind of the point of picking up the blog again!
  3. I have been making it a point to take one or two trips a year for the last few years, and I definitely want to keep up the traveling this year!  I absolutely love to travel and prefer to spend money on experiences, not things.
  4. Last August, I gave up sugar.  Completely for the first weeks, with the exception to natural sugars in fresh fruits and veggies.  Then, I stayed very low sugar, only treating myself a few times over the course of four months.  It was SO HARD but I definitely felt a hundred times better.  A fun side effect was a decent amount of weight loss, but the best part was how good I felt.  Over my winter break, I fell hard off the wagon. Like, face first into the ground.  So. Much. Sugar.  This past week, I have gone back to weaning myself off and I am feeling the struggle.  However, knowing how great I felt before, I am re-committed 100%.  I truly believe sugar is the real problem and know without question it is the best healthy lifestyle choice I can make for myself.
  5.  I have been working really hard over the past few years to put away a decent savings.  Not easy, as it seems every time I get to a comfortable place, something decides to break in my house.  Plus, I have a list that keeps getting longer of things I want to do to make home improvements.  However, I made huge improvements in paying off debt and I want to use the “extra” to keep up the savings.
  6. I tend to be really conservative with my money when it comes to splurging on myself, but as important as it is to save, I also think it is important to spend.  (See above: experiences over things.)
  7. Donating isn’t just about money.  I give to quite a few charities and I am happy to do so, but I want to make more of an effort to donate my time.  Everyone gets the same amount of hours in the day, and I hope to use more of mine in ways that help others this year.
  8. I spend way too much time on screens, between my phone and my computers at both work and home.   It is simply not healthy and often unnecessary.  I need to get better about shutting down and shutting off.  Too many of my 24 hours are spent looking at a screen.  Those hours could be better serving my desires to volunteer, read, or you know…relax!
  9. I have this cute little tab up at the top of my blog listing all of these things I want to do; there’s no real time frame but I have a few in mind I would like to complete this year.
  10. Shit or get off the pot.  For real.  It is high time I stop just talking and start just doing.  I spend too much time worried about how my decisions would affect others; that is sweet of me, but I have to start thinking of my own long term future.  I need to get comfortable with the uncomfortable and just do it.  (I make it sound good, right?!?)

 

I also like to give some words of advice to others for a successful New Year:

  1. When having a discussion, don’t use Google to support your facts.  Ah, critical thinking,what the olden days were like!
  2. Cut people out of your life who you truly do not like and add people who you truly do. Note: On Earth, not just Facebook.
  3. Enough with detoxing and juicing and cleansing and pills.  If you want to lose a little weight quickly, eat less and exercise like crazy.  If you want to lose a lot of weight slowly, do yourself a favor and make a lifestyle change.
  4. Volunteer at least once over the next 90 days.  Don’t tell social media about it.
  5.  Tell those you love that you love them on a more regular basis. To their face, not in an email or text.
  6. Back up your photos.  And take more of them no matter what you look like!
  7. Please stop liking the Kardashians.  All of them.
  8. Shit or get off the pot.  This applies to whatever thing you’re not doing that you should just sack up and do already.  I’ll try to practice what I preach!