Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

The road to hell is paved with good intentions

My last post was cute. Absolutely adorbs.

When I started lifting again in 2020. And later in 2020. And then in early 2021. And then about 3 more times. Never got much beyond the pink kettlebell.

Here’s how that particular week and the one after it went:

  • Start Sunday and Monday with great intentions and hit the gym
  • Be heckin over it with work and stress by Tuesday night
  • Do nothing but go for walks the rest of the week when Joel can drag me away from my computer
  • Repeat
Because this is my life right now

Luckily, we had scheduled the first free session with a personal trainer. Joel made mention of perhaps continuing it, and I scoffed. Pfft, come on, we know how to do all that. We’re (lapsed) certified personal trainers, I’m a triathlon coach, I know more about sports nutrition than a lot of nutritionists. Why would I pay someone to do a thing that I can do in my sleep?

Then, we went to the gym and met with Tim, the little big muscle man. While he does not skip leg day, he DEFINITELY doesn’t skip arm day. He proceeded to ask us about goals and talk through what it would take to get there in terms of diet and training and he passed the first test – it all tracked with me. No crazy diets (just sane calorie and macro goals), no promises of rapid results (1 lb week fat loss and ~1 lb month muscle gain), and just the stuff I knew I should be doing anyway but haven’t been. He did say the typical, “I promise I won’t bulk you up” girl thing but I understand that’s a silly stigma with women and weight training. Good sir, I used to deadlift my weight and looking imposing in a dark alley is on my lifegoals list, do your worst.

Proof I used to do this thing

Then, he proceeded to absolutely wreck us with a very simple 30 minute 5 lb dumbbell workout. My arms were in pain for DAYS. And then we gave them a lot of money to continue to do this for us for the next year.

We decided on this for a few reasons:

  1. Accountability. It’s not been a huge issue for me before, but 2020 just wrecked my momentum. Apparently, I need to feel like I’m going to let someone down beside myself if I don’t do the thing. Also, I have now PAID for someone to feel let down, so it’s both social and financial peer pressure!
  2. Decision fatigue. I make a stupid crazy number of decisions per day at work. Not having to think about what I’m going to be doing at the gym lifts some of that fatigue.
  3. Variety. I’m a creature of habit, I’ll do the same strength workouts over and over because they generally work. However, with our assessments, it was determined that we did a great job maintaining our large muscles, but could do better with the smaller/stabilizer muscles. This will help with that

We went the first week on Monday and Wednesday with Tim and then Friday with Adrian. Tim was awesome, but I think Adrian is our dude. He does triathlon (sprints), so while he doesn’t quite understand the insanity we’re about to embark on with Ironman, he does get endurance sports a little bit. He’s focused on body composition and injury prevention, which is really what we need right now vs GETTIN SWOLE.

This is week two. Our goal is to stay on the one day per week plan with a trainer, and two days where they write workouts for us and we show up and do them. We do have the option if we start falling off to book more sessions per week; we’ll just chew through our funds a little faster, as right now we’ve prepaid for about a year at the once-per-week rate. For all my skepticism spending money on this at first, I have no regrets. This is what I need right now for all those reasons above.

2021, was able to waddle before I gobbled again!

My big fall goal after Kerrville was to run the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving. No, not the real one downtown with the mass of humanity, but a similar one around my neighborhood. The key goal: 5 miles without walking. I was all set to gradually ramp up to it, but then see above for how my weeks have fared. See below for my training plan:

  • October 29th – 1.5 miles
  • October 31st – 2 miles
  • November 3rd – 2.5 miles
  • November 8th – 2.5 miles
  • November 22nd – 3.1 miles
  • Thanksgiving – 5 miles

This is a “do as I say, not as I do” moment, but it is what it is. The turning point has been I can honestly say the last two runs, for the first time in well over a year, were entirely without back pain. I set out on Monday to run until I felt any slight discomfort or 3.1 miles. Same with yesterday and 5 miles. I’m slow as sh*t, my heartrate is through the roof at what feels like a relaxed pace. However, somewhere between the last chiropractor adjustment and finally adding some strength training, this seems to be the last piece of the recovery puzzle. Beyond just the physical activity benefits, this enables me to do the most wonderful thing I’ve been missing for the last 20 months. I can kick myself out my door with just my running shoes, music, and a head full of thinky thoughts and process them while I put one foot in front of the other for some sizable amount of time. I have been kicking myself at why I have been able to allow all this lovely fall weather pass by without me running in it. I think the answer is above. This week, I finally regained the ability to truly enjoy running instead of faking it.

And running right now should probably be the priority (after weight training), followed by biking and then swimming. I have a half marathon in January. Ramping quickly is doable for me but is sooooo risky for injuries. If I can (sanely this time, please) increase my long run 1 mile a week, very likely I can actually trot along comfortably at my 11:5x pace for 13.1 miles and that would be enough for me to joyfully kick off 2022. I cam build pretty quickly on the bike, but we are eyeballing the normal early February 6 hour race as Ironman prep, so I need to have at least some 3-4 hour rides under my belt before we tackle that one. Swimming is lowest on the totem pole, it takes me very little time to ramp even after a long time away, and there’s very little injury risk. For the rest of 2021, I will be swimming for injury prevention (does wonders for stretching out my back) and enjoyment (it’s another one of those active meditation exercises for me that helps unspool my brain), but no stress in terms of race prep if I mostly ignore the pool until January.

Totally gratuitous picture of the hobby room right now

For now, the focus is consistency, establishing good habits, and conquering the stupid voice in my head that says work is more important than all this. And it doesn’t have to be either or. Yes, I need to be away from my desk but I got some DAMN good (in my head focus) work done on the 5-mile run. I’ve mostly worked through a 40-minute lunch trainer ride on my phone. Just like I was playing D&D online or Bloodbowl practice games whilst finishing my trainer rides in 2020 when I was hell bent on not giving up other hobbies for Ironman, I can make this multitasking happen for work as well.

Hopefully this new road I’m following goes somewhere else than hell, and is paved with something sturdier than just intent.


The Fall Stall


Stability, normality, and too many restaurants


  1. Dena

    I continue to struggle with prioritizing work over exercise. Winter is all about building good habits, focusing on strength and then swimming, and learning to embrace morning workouts again. If I can nail all of this over the next couple of months, it’s going to set me up well when my biking and running ramps up. Maybe the fear of not being ready for my first full Ironman in September will get some of these habits to stick.

    • I wish you the best of luck! I am not a morning person but it’s definitely the best time to get it done before the day gets away from you. 🙂

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