Wednesday, September 1, 2021

 

RECHARGE

It is hard for me to admit sometimes when I need a break.

I would prefer to be invincible.  I would prefer to not disrupt the stability of a weekly schedule that I know people count on.  Plus, I don’t like to appear or for my words to be taken as if I don’t enjoy what I do, day in and day out, for a job.  It isn’t quite a job to me, it is an honor to be able to work with so many people on their health, fitness, and helping people THRIVE and FEEL GOOD.

But, it is hard for me to admit that while I fully LOVE spreading this passion for fitness, it isn’t without energy.  It isn’t without A LOT of energy.  And, I realize, this energy needed is often amplified when it is from someone like me, who FEELS FEELS FEELS and WANTS WANTS WANTS.   I don’t like to do things halfhearted.  I don’t want to just give someone a good workout, or a good class, or a good training plan.  I want it to be at the level that it leads people to AMAZE themselves.

Well, I burnt up a good amount of that energy from January to August of this year, and felt myself totally fizzling through August.  My energy for my appointments/classes was feeling sometimes FORCED, and my energy for even my own hobbies and interests felt nonexistent.  I have a list, an actual written list of things that make me happy, help to bring me out of a bit of depression… because I know myself, and I Know I need this list.  I got to the point where I just sat there, not even interested in my list.  I didn’t even want to go in my garden.  I had nothing left to even give to the things that usually fuel me on a personal level, so I Knew I had to take some time for recharging, even at the risk of disappointing some people with my schedule.  I knew that in the long run it would make me better able to continue giving.

I took 5 days off of working- no training sessions or classes at least (I did do some business/computer work).  During this time, I did take some time to ask myself honestly, “was there something I was doing that maybe wasn’t energy efficient for me, that was pulling too much out of me, something I needed to back off of or add more of.” And reflecting on my schedule, reminded me of the big picture.

****BIG PICTURE:  On a weekly basis I work with maybe 70 -80 people total in various forms of classes, one on one, partner, coaching situation.  And, I aim to honestly give 100% of myself in each situation because I believe in every single person that I work with, and also that is what I expect of myself as a coach/trainer. 

Sometimes that means pushing someone past their limit on intervals- past what they think they can do, past what they sometimes WANT to do…  

Sometimes that means I Have a class where one person comes in and has just found out their best friend’s daughter has cancer, someone else just got into the New York City marathon lottery, someone else barely showed up for class because they just feel so spread thin, and another person just ready to work hard.  I try to beneath the surface, know all of these things, and adapt and adjust seamlessly so we can somehow collectively still be in the same “place” even coming from very different places.

Sometimes, even if fitness and this one session is maybe priority #1 in my mind for someone, it isn’t really priority #1 for THEM!!!  I realize that at the beginning of the day, in the middle of the day, at the END of a day… there has been LIFE HAPPENING. Kids in different places, leaving another task unfinished, being overdone with an exhausting work schedule and looming meetings.

And ALL THE TIME…. Here is the BIG ONE.  ALL THE TIME.. EVERY DAY… I KNOW so fully and deeply how valuable it is to move your body- for your physical health, mental health, for your sense of ALIVE-NESS!

When I plan a workout, I try to plan it to start kind of seamlessly…. And smoothly, a little bit “kindly”.

But then, of course, time is limited.  I try to sneak a way to get RIGHT IN to training ASAP.

There is always a goal.  I always have focus areas and intentions for each session.

I make sure to add directional movement, rotation, twisting- somewhere near the beginning to warm the spine in all directions of mobility.

I make sure we have a chance to stand on one leg- to work balance, standing on one leg activates core, works pelvic floor.. enough said.

I make sure we don’t just do the easy front of the body muscles that everyone more WANTS to work.

I make sure we “catch” ourself with our feet in some agility patterns.  I make sure every workout is different.

I am constantly talking about BREATHING and EXHALING.  In strength- the power of connecting the exhale to the work, in yoga, the POWER of just sitting with, hearing, being the exhale.

I make sure there are intervals to get metabolism spiked appropriately to make CHANGES.  I make sure we run on tired legs, other times we run on fresher legs, we do things we haven’t done before so that we are making CHANGES in our capabilities!  I make sure we JUMP!  Everyone needs to JUMP to stimulate BONE TURNOVER (among other things).

All this to say… my mind sometimes spins with ideas, energy, and passion.  Because I KNOW how important it is, I see the changes in how people MOVE, which is nothing short of amazing that we really do as humans have the capability to be where we want to be in terms of fitness.  And, the energy and passion that I love to share, got drained.  I don’t know why I was surprised- maybe because it was summer and I think the sunshine can fuel anything in me! 

 

I recently saw a quote from Lauren Fleshman, professional runner and coach: “You can’t excel at the pointy end of any profession without passion and enthusiasm, and burnout threatens to scorch both.”  This rings true to me, and I feel lucky that I gave myself a week to look inside, to be okay with saying, I need some time.  I needed that week to first of all, not hear my voice all day long.  I sometimes finish the day so fatigued of hearing my own voice.  But I needed the recharge, to refire myself up and to be ready to light the path to another season of fitness😊

Hope to see you all this fall!

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

LURAY 2021

 

LURAY 2021- first tri POST (or in) PANDEMIC

 I was so excited to have Luray Olympic Distance Tri on my schedule for this year- it is my favorite race and I’ve been doing it for years.  Last year, it was of course cancelled along with everything, and I went out and did the bike/run on my own just because I love the course and it feels like it is a standard thing to do end of August.

This year, I will admit, I was NERVOUS going into the race.  I didn’t train this year as I would typically- among still being mindful/semi-nursing my hamstring and hip injury, I felt like I wasn’t 100% sure the race WOULD happen, and….. maybe I’m just older and a bit more mellow?!  I trained, but not my 100% committed and focused Sharon-level training!

I hadn’t swam over the summer, so I Really just got back into the pool in June.  I swam 2x/week as a goal, and those were both 1500.  I never went over that distance which also had me worried since I normally do more volume, PLUS more actual workouts- intervals and hard work in the pool.  This summer, I really j ust swam, enjoyed, did a little pushing here and there, but… mostly… honestly… tried to get a tan!

I biked 2x/week as well.  I tried to build up to doing one longer distance of 30-35 and one was shorter and more interval based- honestly even 12-15 miles sometimes, so not much bike training compared to what I typically would do.  (one of these bike workouts was always a brick, if not both).  (*For comparison, I used to try to bike 4-5x/week and I would definitely have a long of 50-60 miles/week).

My run was my current standard of 35 miles/week. 

The week of the race made me even more nervous. I was OFF.  Mentally and physically.  I even looked weird, my eyes swollen/puffy, my attitude just frustrated and irritable and TIRED.  TIRED TIRED TIRED.

I honestly hadn’t had a break over the summer and really needed one.  Needed to not be talking so much, expending energy.  I needed to somehow refill myself.  The things that normally fill me weren’t even doing it- I wasn’t even going out to garden because I was in a low place. Ugh.  The week of the race, I didn’t even do my taper plan because I was tired, irritated, and I wasn’t eating my normally healthy food.

I of course tried to mentally get myself into a good place and be excited for the race. I know I love going there and being in the mountains and I was hoping for the race to be a good solid day.  I just didn’t want to be disappointed and feel terrible.

Race morning- we got there of course early, long dark drive.  Saw a black bear ambling in the street in front of us when we were 2 miles from the park!  I felt okay that morning physically and was very nervous as people were lining up for the swim.  It has been so long since I”ve been in an open water swim, plus environment with others swimming so close to me.  The swim began, I did start relatively at the front, even though I’m not a strong swimmer.  I was wave #5 so I knew there were people to follow and I love this lake to swim in.  The swim was changed from previous years to 2x the sprint distance loop instead of the typical longer loop.  The first 3-4 minutes, something that has happened to me before happened again and I had to work through it:  my legs felt tired.  My legs are barely kicking in a triathlon, they shouldn’t feel tired- I wasn’t even going that fast or hard.  So, when my legs get this weird feeling, I mentally get nervous/ think is something wrong with my body and am I going to drown.  I got myself into a good self- talk saying slow down maybe just a bit, don’t let the weird leg feeling dictate anything, etc.  And, when I let my breathing stay easy and relaxed, my leg feeling seemed to get better.  The first buoy AS USUAL at luray- you turn the corner and BANG.  You are blinded.  Every year.  The sun is apparently RIGHT THERE and when I say blinded, I mean literally there is nothing to see.  It is as if you are IN the sun.  It is very strange. There is nothing to even see.  So, then you literally feel like you are swimming blind.  I kind of glanced right and saw there was a line in the lake- like a rope line and was lucky to angle myself to that and that ended up bringing me in line with the buoys to follow and so this worked out PERFECTLY!  The triangular course took us back almost to the beach and then we began again.  I wasn’t sure how I was doing among others, but I knew I was swimming well enough for me, staying steady and strong, breathing easy, staying relaxed, and that was my whole goal.  On the 2nd loop, it did have some snags with slower people that I had to go by basically pushing down on my body as I was going by, and getting pushed around a little. I had to do some kicking back, which I don’t like to do, but after being repetitively smooshed under the water by large men, I was like STOP DOING THAT. Ugh.



Happy to get to the BEACH and ON LAND!!!!

BIKE: This is never an easy course, particularly if you don’t train enough on the bike.  I definitely felt my lack of bike strength.  Within the first 5 miles, I was worried.  My left quad/glute/low back was having an issue.  It was oddly tightening up and fatiguing SO much more than my right side.  I didn’t know why, and I didn’t know what it would lead to- particularly with my back and being able to stand up after the bike.  I would say about halfway through, it seemed to normalize and just both sides/ full body felt sluggish and not like I was really “BIKING”…. I was just kind of trying to push pedals and survive and keep going.  However, I was doing a good job mentally.  I was aware that I could have been beating myself up a bit for not having done more, for how different this felt than previous times on the course, but I was doing good telling myself to stick within my means on this day and keep plugging away.  That became kind of my motto.  Plug away.  I made sure to eat a bite of bonk breaker at mile 10-12 and then I had a block at mile 18.  Water throughout.  The views, as always were GLORIOUS. Glorious. The roads were narrow and always a bit scary with cars coming the other way. But the views- GLORIOUS.

The hill at the end… again… laughable.  You turn the corner and it NO JOKE looks like a WALL.  But… it was doable!  I was trying to maintain a pace that was not going to put me over the edge for the run.

T2- was able to stand up straight right off the bike, so that was good news (stretched a few stretches in last 2 miles of bike to get my back mobile again after being hunched so much).

RUN:  now here comes the gritty part.  6.2 miles, 4 segments in my head, out #1, back #1, out #2, back #2.  I love breaking it up that way.  First segment out, just tried to start smart.  My mile time surprisingly was like 7:45ish (it also has a downhill), but I was sure happy with that, and reminded myself based on this time to not give up ever.  Mile 2 included the first gravel uphill and downhill that is just so stinking hard, did it and flew by a guy on the way down the hill and that downhill gave me momentum to the turn around.  On the way back, I hit mile 2 still with a real good split.  This section of going BACK to the start is the most challenging.  A section is really hot in the sun/ no shade cover and HILLY… I created a rule for myself that the entire way back, there would be no negative self talk or commenting- everything had to be positive.  So, I was reminding myself in the heat that I was getting a tan at least.  When in the shade, I was noticing how much of a difference that made.  I was being thankful that my calves were doing okay and not exploding, being thankful that my GI system was not making me stop to go to the bathroom.  It was all good, I was honestly so thankful to be out there with a positive attitude and not giving up.

My way out #2 I was just telling myself- you can start to push a bit more, but mostly stay steady and smooth and smart.  Be aware where you are on the road/ ride the lines well.  I would see some people walking and think, nope, that is not an invitation for MYSELF to follow suit.  I was taking cold water at some of the stations, heed at the mile 2.5 and mile 5 stop.  Also pouring cold water over my head.  I had a honey stinger block at mile 2, mile 3.5 and mile 5.

The 2nd time up the gravel uphill didn’t actually seem as bad as the first, and I tried to mimic the strong downhill I had the first time.  Hard to get to the turn around, but when I did, I was on my LAST SEGMENT.  Even knowing this, it was hard, again- here I am on the hardest segment, body at it’s max.  But I stayed strong mentally.  When going through the hard heat and hill the final time, I did a funny thing that I am still laughing about, but which WAS so POWERFUL FOR ME.  *who watched the women’s marathon in the Olympics with Kara Goucher commentating when Molly Siedel got gold? Kara Goucher was the most POWERFUL commentator I have ever heard and IJ loved her so much.. SO…. In my mind during this hard part of the race, I put Kara Goucher in my mind commentating on me!  I said the same things she said for the Olympic marathon:  “She is running focused and brave. She is trusting her training and BELIEVING IN HERSELF.  She needs to stay patient. “  and I kept repeating this, and I could hear Kara Goucher and I used this to help me be brave and patient and believe in myself😊  It was honestly FUN!



Last ½ mile I was just pushing what I had, and then I got to near the finish chute and there was this SUPER TALL girl we had seen before that we were oogling over how long her legs are, Phoebe and I wondering if she may be a volleyball player.  Well, I saw her in front of me and had a burst of energy to hammer it home and pass her.  I wanted to make sure I made a point to phoebe that “height isn’t everything”…. (although I Know… different sport)…. But.. she did enjoy my huge effort that she saw at the end!

I finished HAPPY.  I knew I did ALL that I could.  I knew I had just made myself more fit by (quasi) training for the race, but also in DOING IT.  I knew I made myself mentally stronger by being in the arena, showing up, being scared and doing the hard thing anyway.  I am always motivated by races.  It feels good to ask big things of myself, work daily, and see where it brings me.  I am grateful to have had another chance to be out there in this gorgeous lake, on the beautiful country roads, and under the hot and blue beautiful sky😊





Monday, May 31, 2021

Return to Racing...

 

RETURN TO RACING!

*note: this was written BEFORE… the downpour of the weekend…. Read to find out how the “race” panned out.

I have my first half marathon post pandemic tomorrow morning.

I’m both excited and apprehensive.  I’ve done run races since 1994, and triathlons since 1998, and they have provided me with such a huge heartful of memories, stories, experiences, locations.  They are some of my happiest and most fun days.  I often say that the training is the real work and race day is like a party on the roads… NOT that it isn’t work and hard and focus.  BUT… it is where everything “plays out” and that is really just such a fun and interesting few hours. So, I am excited.

I’m also apprehensive because I know how much I learned and fine tuned my way of racing over those years.  Not only do you train in your training, but your races serve themselves as training for future races.  You do stuff that doesn’t work well, and you learn.  You think a certain way, reframe a certain way of thinking and you find that gets you through, and you use it in the future. You learn to subtly adjust breathing and some muscles to get the most out of your body, and you know that feeling of being on the fine line where you can kind of hover there and make it through to the end…. And, so I’m apprehensive.  I haven’t done this in about a year and a half.  And even then, I was injured with my hip, so things were already different, and my races were more about participation and being out there and not getting further pain in the joint.  I’m apprehensive about all the LITTLE things… that become amplified to quite big things along the way in a race!  I’m apprehensive about

*how do I even warm up for this race?  DO I even warm up, haha?  It is a half marathon, I’m not at all trained to be at my “best” half marathon or even near there, so maybe I should just warm up “within the race”!!!??! 

*how to pace myself—without having race situations, it is really hard to know what your body is really capable of maintaining effortwise!  Of course I’ve trained and done a few 13 milers, with intervals within even…. But races are different.  They play with your physiology, your GI system, your nerves, your mind.

*how to approach the race mentally!  I used to say, I’m not going to race unless I am RACING!  Right?  I mean, I can go out and do 13 miles on my own, I don’t need a race to cover the distance.  So, I use races to TEST.  For this experience tomorrow, I need to remind myself of that same thing—it isn’t going to be my BEST, but it is going to be a “test” of where I am NOW.  So, I don’t want to overpush to try to get where I used to be… but I also don’t really want to go out and lolly-gag it.  That isn’t my intent for the race, my intent is to race where I am.  I need to keep that focus, not feel less confident because I am slower and not used to racing, but confident that I am where I am, and am perfectly in the place of “relearning” the race skillset!

Already this week, I’ve been reminding myself of what it is like to be in a race.  I adjusted my eating a few days ago.  No more beans, no more salads, and overall less fiber.  I did a little taper week of training (although got a bit more sore from some classes than I intended!), have done some extra rolling.  And, I’ve started a little bit of some mental work, visualization, prepping for the logistics of 13 miles and my race plan.

Even packing is different—I used to be so ready to race I could take a quick 3 minutes through and get everything in a bag ready to go:  race belt, hydration flasks, safety pins, energy blocks, post race clothes, sunglasses, etc.  This time it is different, I have to remind myself I am not going on a vacation!  I am questioning even how to wear my hair to keep it from moving, reminding myself to recharge my garmin, needing those little reminders that I have to have a fresh banana ready for the morning, ripe, but not too ripe.  Also, I need to have a mask on up until the gun goes off, I have a Ziploc ready to put it in during race, so it won’t be grose and full of sweat at the end of the race.

And even this, is all part of the learning process, the relearning.  Someday, this exact week and the race tomorrow will be part of what makes me a better racer maybe next year, or maybe in 4 more years.  Being excited yet apprehensive will be what teaches me what works or doesn’t work tomorrow, and how to modify that in the future. 

Ahem…… 3 days later.

We called a no go.

Pouring rain, 40 degrees.   Did not sound like a fun, positive experience, and my friend Nancy, who I also coach, decided we did not want this experience.  I personally was worried about: first freezing being soaked beforehand/ waiting for the beginning, shoes soaked, but then also muddy since the race wasn’t on paved roads.  I actually do not feel even an ounce bad about calling that a no go race.

ESPECIALLY because…. We met up this morning, planned how she would get a 10K, I would get 13 miles in and MADE. IT. HAPPEN.

Even though there weren’t people around me at the start line, anyone on my tail, anyone in front to visualize catching, I PUSHED.  I executed my miles as I intended.  I did a 5 min warm up and got my joints warm and ready to react well, and then started first mile strong, but not feeling bad at all.  I finished in 1:43:39, which was under my goal of 1:45.  (however, I did take a stop in the port o pot and I did have the luxury since it wasn’t a “real race” of stopping my stop watch.  I am fairly certain that I was not in there longer than 60 seconds.  That was at the 7 ¼ mile mark. 

My intent had been to do 3.5 miles out from start as a “check in”- not a warm up, but a good effort without it being too much, and see how my body was feeling.  On the way back from this to get me to 7 miles, I was going to work a bit harder, mentally this was about a 7.5/10 effort.  I then did a 3 mile loop from mile 7-10 and my intent was to start to pick up effort to 8/10 and this happened naturally because of time but also because my (specifically right) calf was really talking to me.  It’s been tight and really was feeling it during these miles.  Then I had 3 miles left- a 1.5 mile out to maybe see / cross paths with Nancy and then back.  My intent was to keep pushing the way out, maybe 8-8.25 or 8.5/10 and then final 1.5 miles up to 9/10, finish strong.  When I came back and crossed paths with Nancy, she was working SOO SO SO SO SO SO awesomely strong, I could hear her breathing and working so strong, I thought, don’t you DARE Sharon let up.  You are out here for a purpose and YOU KEEP DIGGING just as she is. Seeing her/ hearing her effort reminded me that I was in this with her, we do not back down.. It really felt like the energy from a “race”, from being near others in their pain cave, was fueling me down the path to the finish.  My calf was really the hardest thing from the run, and I went to the pool this afternoon and “iced it” in the freezing cold pool.  It is honestly SO much better tonight and I SWEAR by what I did in pool.  I did 2 rounds of soaking it, and the final time I was doing constant ankle circles, flexing the ankle, all softs of movement in the water.  I am so thankful I did that because I feel like it is going to be fine tomorrow, however, I will listen to my body that there is a message being sent by my calves😊

We finished with “black cherry juice rose mimosa’s”….. black cherry juice for recovery, right?  So it made me feel like I was definitely at least doing something right for recovery?!! Thank goodness for the sun finally coming back out today.

I was sad to not do the race experience, but I honestly feel that I got it in today.

I may actually be even MORE sad that we missed the wine festival afterwards😊

*for my own reference basically, my splits were: 

8:16, 7:49, 7:44, 7:54, 8:16, 7:59, 7:58, 7:44, 7:43, 7:59, 8:00, 8:16, 7:53 (thx to Nancy for that final mile!)