After last week’s mental meanderings, and the return to some physical activity over the last seven days, I feel a little more… even-keeled.
A friend told me this outfit was Daphne and Velma all in one and I think that might be the highest compliment ever.
There’s many reasons that I throw words on this page. It’s a historical reference of my life that I often use in lieu of my failing memory. What did we do for our sixth anniversary? How did I train for that half marathon I notched a personal record back in the day? AR.com answers all those questions for me even when my brain cannot.
However, one of the most beautiful and wonderful things this blog can do is be my therapist. I started last week VERY VERY confused as to what was going on in my brain, and through three days of massaging a piece of writing, I figured out why my mind was lashing out. While I don’t have all the answers yet, I at least know what was REALLY causing me strife. As they say, knowing is half the battle, because when I know the full shape of the problem, I can actually formulate stabs at a solution instead of just generally freaking out and trying to prove my self-worth in other, completely unrelated ways, while not getting to the heart of the matter.
If I want to be an author, I’m going to have to amass an audience (it’s just how it’s done these days, apparently). If I want to have the guts to create a community, I’m going to have to believe in myself 100%, that the ware which is myself is worth hawking tirelessly from the rooftops, even through the perils of disregard and rejection. I’m closer now to feeling that self-worth than I’ve ever been, and I think part of the anxiety is that I’m so scared of losing it, as right now it feels terrifyingly fleeting. I’d gotten used to being self-deprecating, and it’s honestly EASIER for me to be just imperfect enough that I don’t feel like maybe I’m destined for any level of greatness. Just… decentness. It’s comfortable to live on this side of the mediocre.
Obviously, I still need to learn the HOW of the marketing stuff. I tried to dip my toe into that over the last few years and just like editing my book, I’ve found a huge mental block. I’ve got some decisions to make (do I stick with AR.com or actually register a new site that’s got more focus), but I think I’d be more receptive to the ideas that made me overly uncomfortable previously.
And I’m not even squidding about how much this has been octupi-ing my thoughts…
While I’ve often been frustrated at my lack of progress in specific things over the last few years, there’s no doubt in the big picture that I’ve transformed. Spring 2016 was when everything shook apart and I realized I needed to diversify myself as a human. Within that next year I collected three certifications (personal trainer, sports nutrition, triathlon coach). I’ve learned a lot about investment, business development, and have a list of about a million things I could start up should I find myself unemployed (though, obviously, that’s not the plan).
Then, I started to nurture my creative and performer identities. I started painting again, I wrote a freaking novel, I’ve gotten really into photography and photo editing and have even taken a crack at video. At work, I’ve found myself as the co-host for live steams and giving presentations at the all-hands company meetings as well as other official video. I get to do things that push me in the public speaking regard about 3-4 times per month and I relish the opportunity to improve (and it’s also a bit of an adrenaline rush).
For someone focused on only work and triathlon previously, that’s a lot of personal growth in 2.5 years. That period of time also included completing my first Ironman, three half Ironman races, two six hour bike races, two half marathons, and at about two dozen races of other distances. Beyond my job and training, I have to give myself credit for spending ANY time on diversification, though I couldn’t imagine my life without it now.
And thus, cue the low level of anxiety that stretches me to always want to be better, always wanting more.
However, I’ve felt more quiet in the last few days than I have in a long time. Figuring shit out helped, but also, I’ve been able to return to activity, which has made me feel like my normal version of a human.
Actual weights on bar not pictured, but rest assured, they are tiny.
The only thing that I’m doing with any seriousness or schedule is lifting, and even that’s very loosely reigned in. I’m starting with 2xweek until my body says that 3xweek is reasonable (read: not sore two days later – I’m guessing not this week but next). I’m doing a nice, long, full body, lighter weight lift hitting all the main muscle groups each day (e.g. squatting and benching 65lbs, dead lifting 85 lbs, rowing and overhead pressing the 45 lb bar only). Once these numbers start to approach where I was at earlier in the year, I’ll start lowering the reps and splitting things up a little more. When I add the third day in, it will be kettlebells (lighter stuff), like what I was doing in the last few months.
Besides that, the plan is: some run, bike, swim, or other cardio a few times a week. As long (within reason) or short as I feel like. At whatever intensity feels good. And if curling up with a book or going out with friends or drinking whiskey or playing video games sounds better on any given day, I’ll do that instead (as long as it’s not ALL given days).
I swam on Thursday and it felt like coming home. Sure, I was slow and clunky and my goggles kept leaking, but it felt absolutely wonderful to glide back and forth across the pool. There’s something about the silence and focus when it’s just you and the water (and some tunes), and maybe that’s why I was going into a bit of a tizzy over the last few weeks – the lack of time in my own head enforced by the circumstances of sport. I had been accustomed to some 3-4 hour stretches on the bike/run over the summer with just me and my grey matter, and I suppose I missed that.
Saturday, I had grand plans for a bike adventure. I wanted to go somewhere pretty and take pictures and have lunch and in my head we would set out in the morning and spend the day on bikes. Reality set in – we stayed up late playing video games the night before and started riding after noon. We decided to take off from the house instead of driving the bikes somewhere and I didn’t want to tax my knee *too* much with crazy hills, so we just rolled a fairly normal suburban loop with a lunch stop at Little Deli. My legs told me that the mildly rolling 600 ft of elevation gained in 21 miles in 90 minutes was perfect for right now, more would be overreaching.
This week is a short work week, which means in theory I will have more time to play, but I know the siren song of the couch will be strong once I’m off work. If I had to put together a loose plan it would be:
- Lift #1 Monday
- Swim Tuesday
- Lift #2 Wednesday
- Run on Thanksgiving morning
- Bike adventure sometime over the weekend
I’m a little anxious both TO get back to running and actually ABOUT getting back to running. It’s the one sport for me in which absence doesn’t make the legs grow fonder. If I take too much time off running, I usually end up paying a price. I don’t want to put too much pressure on my knee trying to replicate the paces from a few months ago. I also don’t want to mentally flip out if I find 11-12 minute miles difficult after a minor injury and almost a month off.
I decided that doing an official Turkey Trot under these circumstances seemed like an idiot decision, so I’m running out my door on Thursday instead. I don’t know if I’m going to go one mile and then turn back or finish all five. I do know that running around my neighborhood means I’ll go at a pace and distance which feel comfortable, instead of getting swept up in the chaos of a race. My body has been pretty clear that all the good efforts have been used up for a while, and I’m happy to remove any excuse to try to push the issue.
Speaking of turkeys, Thanksgiving is in just a few days, and that means that the holidays are in full swing. For many reasons, I’m excited. For my diet, I’m terrified. This has been my most successful year in almost a decade in terms of weight loss – and of even more import – figuring out the mystery behind making the scale move in the right direction. For so many years I was using incorrect metrics and had too much faith in the calorie burning effect of training. If my goal is to maintain my weight, the only distance in which I can eat intuitively, as much as I want, is Ironman (11-15+ hours per week of training). Under any other conditions, especially offseason, I need to watch my shit lest my nice new size 9 juniors jeans will start to shrink.
Since I’ve been focused on taper tantrums and post-race blues, I haven’t shared (or cared) much about metrics, so here’s a bit of catch up.
The first part of September was flat (training volume up, had to eat to fuel those efforts). November (offseason, little to no activity) has some rollers, but both still *slightly* trended down. Late September and October, even with 10 days in Cozumel, was a huge success because taper (5-6 hours a week) is honestly my optimal training volume to lose weight.
The other nice feather in my cap is that I set 165 as my interim weight loss goal for the year. Over the summer, when things slowed down, I said I’d be happy with 170 but I’ve surpassed that, and I’m so close to my original goal, y’all!
Since Waco, I’ve not made much progress, though I haven’t expected to. Trendweight is also reminding me that in the last 3.5 years I’ve been tracking, I’m 10 lbs lower than any recorded weight in history. That doesn’t suck.
I expect things to get a little easier now that I’m moving around again. Last week, without any hassle, I hit 5.5 hours of activity. I expect that will stay constant through the holiday season. I need to keep committed to how I’ve been eating all year and absolutely track my calories and weight daily to keep that line from reversing course (I can’t really deal with the diet quality tracking right now, that will be something I get back to after the new year). If my trendweight looks exactly the same as it does now on January 1st, I’m fine with that. If it’s back to where I was in the summer, I’ll be pissed. I love me some peppermint bark and mulled wine and all, but nothing is worth erasing months of hard fought progress. Moderation is key.
For now, I’ll be encouraging and enjoying the silence. The quiet ease of this time of year. Sleeping in and staying up late. Everything moving a little slower, including me.