Saturday, April 26, 2014

Recovery days

Do pro triathletes take an "off" day??? I do!!

Does this mean I simply take the day off training and load up with non-triathlon related chores? No, it does not! (Although this wasn't always the case!) And I do witness this behaviour in a lot of athletes. Like I did, they view an off-day as the perfect time to get caught up on anything and everything that they have been putting off while training has been a priority. But this is a HUGE mistake. Even though this is still giving your body a break from physical activity, you aren't actually going to recover properly. This isn't just my philosophy, there is some science behind it to! If you are loading up on non-training related chores, then you are going to be somewhat stressed. And stress is known to cause the release of hormones that actually cause muscles to breakdown. So, this is why I am as lazy as possible on my recovery days!

Here are my top 4 tips to ensure that you are getting the most out of your recovery day:

1. Eat healthy foods. Before or after a workout is the best time to eat simple sugars, but on recovery days, try to limit your consumption of processed and junk foods. Instead, load up on dark green leafy veggies, complex carbs, protein, healthy fats, etc.

2. Relax. Do things that are low-stress and enjoyable. I like to sleep-in, read, watch movies or TV shows, take a PJ day, write a blog post :), grab lunch or coffee with friends (sometimes in my PJs!). If this isn't possible, because of other commitments like work or family - then try to schedule your recovery days so that they coincide with a low-stress work day or on a day when the whole family can relax with you (does that ever happen!?).

3. Actively recover. Do all the things you are supposed to do to promote recovery: wear compression socks (like Swiftwick compression socks!), get a massage or see your chiropractor for an adjustment, drink lots of fluids (water, not beer!), go for a short walk to get the blood flowing in your legs, spend at least 30 to 45 minutes stretching or doing a type of restorative yoga.

4. Get a good night's sleep. When you are sleeping your body produces hormones that help to rebuild the muscles that you have just broken down as part of the training process. Getting enough sleep is probably the most important thing you can do to facilitate recovery. So if you can't do anything else, try to make sleep a priority.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

People who inspire me

Lately, with all the hard training that I've been doing, I've had to dig deep. I've had to find inspiration to keep myself going in tough workouts, on long training days and in times of high stress. In order to train to the best of my ability I have found motivation in the qualities of others. Who are the people that inspire me?

1. Other athletes. These athletes are of all ages and abilities, beginners to elites and kids to adults. Anyone who has gotten off the couch to train. For some people it's harder to be an athlete than others. Those are the people who race to finish. Then there are those who have a natural talent for sports. Those are the people who race to win. Everyone who is an athlete has their own story, and all of them are inspiring.

2. People who are genuinely kind. These are the people that do favours for you, without expecting anything in return. The people that go out of their way to help you for no apparent reason, but to be nice. This could be another athlete competing in the same race as you, who cheers you on while they, too, are fatigued. This could be the person who returns your cell phone after you've dropped it in the parking lot. A lot of the people who have opened their homes to me, when I am in a city to race or train would fall into this category. In general, kindness inspires me to be a better person.

3. People who have it rough. We all know the type. The person who, seemingly, has to overcome endless obstacles in order to succeed. It could be the athlete who keeps getting injured or sick, but pulls through it and still races. The athletes with prosthetic limbs who STILL compete. The person who went through so many of life's struggles, but managed to find happiness in the end. My life seems so easy compared to many others and people who don't have it so easy, but still achieve their goals, inspire me.

4. People who are real. I have spent my whole life trying to fit in, so I always notice those people who stand out. These people are true individuals. They don't hide their imperfections, they don't hide their flaws. Somehow, they can sometimes manage to turn their inadequacies into their strengths, because it's those same inadequacies that make them unique.

5. My sisters. I am the oldest of 3, but sometimes I feel like the baby. I am constantly looking up to my sisters. One of my sisters is 2 years younger than me. She is one of the most optimistic people I know. She knows she excels in situations that she is comfortable in, but she doesn't know how well she does in situations that are new and quite unknown to her. She was on the podium in her second ever triathlon. She embraced her pregnancy and the few months that have followed and not complained once. She has been the definition of a "natural mum". Her positivism and attitude are qualities that greatly inspire. My other sister is a goal getter. When she sets her sights on something, she gets it done. Unlike me, she is better at weighing the pros and cons of the outcome of her decisions before making them. She won't set her sights on achieving something unless she has a very detailed plan in place. A very admirable quality. There's no wonder she has been so successful working in the financial industry.

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

What have I been up to?

After another rocky start to my triathlon season, I think that I may have finally found my groove! So, what have I been up to in the past few months? Well, here's the short version:

I've been swimming...

I've been biking here...

and here...

I've been running...

I've been eating...

I've been recovering...

I've gotten presents...

I've had visitors...

I've seen cacti...

And here's the longer (but not too long) version:

I have been in the southwestern US now for about 5 of 8 weeks. I escaped the Toronto winter at the beginning of March to train in Arizona and Utah. I am so lucky that I have my coaching, my parents and my sponsors, which allow me to actually get away to train somewhere warm for this long.

The first 3 weeks I got to spend in Arizona. I swam with the University of Arizona Masters team almost every morning. I met some awesome, nice, super-fast swimmers there. No doubt my swimming got a huge boost of fitness from having such a great group to train with. I also did A LOT of biking...up Mount Lemmon, through the Catalina Foothills, along the Old Spanish Trail, through Saguaro Canyon. It was absolutely amazing. My running even started to come around as I escaped the treadmill and ventured outside in the Arizona heat and wind and even tackled some real hills! It wasn't all hard work - my mum was with me for the duration of my time there and my dad joined us the last week. Even a fellow triathlete, Faye, and her fiancee, Marty came and spent a few days! After about 80 hours of training in the Arizona desert I was ready for a rest week and to venture north to Utah. I dropped my parents off at the Phoenix airport and we said our goodbyes. Then I was on the highway, driving through the Hoover Dam, past Vegas and headed north on the I-15 to St. George.

My first week in St. George was an easy week. I settled back in, did some short swims, bikes and runs to keep the legs moving, but mostly I just relaxed and recovered. My second week here, this past week, was when the real training began again! I got re-aquainted with the St. George bike and run course - wow, are there ever a lot of hills! I met some cows who looked scary, but were pretty harmless. Had some good sets in the pool. Brought my run fitness a little closer to where it was pre-injury. All in all, a good week! The next two weeks I will be repeating this past week of training, only each week gets a little bit harder. Then I will have an easy week before I race in the US 70.3 Pro Championships :) After being inspired by fellow pro triathletes who have already started racing, I am getting excited to compete again!

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