I forgot how good it feels to be in shape. I'm definitely not in IRONMAN shape, but it's nice being able to swim for 45 minutes straight, and it's definitely nice not being dropped on a fast Saturday morning group ride. When I first started getting back into triathlon mode, 25 laps in the pool had me out of breath and my heart beating out of my chest.
It's also nice getting back into the swing of things--waking up early, training and eating right. It's common sense that strong daily habits and triathlon go hand-in-hand, but it's much easier said than done.
Routine is a funny thing. It's tough to get started, but easy to have a falling out. When I was training for my first IRONMAN, I was in grad school and had a flexible schedule. This time around, I have a full time job. I'm realizing it takes more planning and discipline in order to get in the necessary amount of training hours. Making excuses to skip a workout will definitely be easier.
The race isn't until May (seven months away), so I haven't really started a true training regimen. I've just been getting my feet wet, literally. I joined the local YMCA and have been swimming three times a week to build up my base fitness.
I've also been trying to ride my bike three times a week. One short, fast ride during the week, with a short ride on Saturday and a long ride on Sunday. I'm finally starting to get my legs back under me, and cycling is becoming much more enjoyable. Long story short, my 'mouth-breathing' and 'fat boy sweating' has been at a minimum recently.
You know you're getting back into the groove of things when a 60-mile ride sounds more appealing on a bike than in a car.
Running has been an issue for me, per usual. I've been fighting a nagging Achilles injury, so I'm keeping my miles to a minimum to fix the issue before it becomes a bigger problem down the road. I've been doing more stretching, foam rolling and yoga to stay loose. Running's tough on us tall, lanky dudes and I tend to have a 'love-hate' relationship with the sport that seems to generally err on the 'hate' side. Once I'm healthy, I hope to change that.
I've also started really focusing on my daily nutrition plan. Oatmeal, rice cakes, ground turkey and smoothies are my main staples again and I've noticed a huge improvement in how I feel while training and in everyday life. I still have a couple of pounds to go, but I'm gradually getting back down to race weight. Continuing to eat like an IRONMAN while not training like one didn't do me any favors.
So what's the best way to establish and continue a long-term routine? I've found three tactics that personally help me the most.
First, actually registering for the triathlon is a huge motivation--especially for races that cost as much as an IRONMAN. When the race is no longer just an idea in your head, training will feel more critical and you'll be more inclined to act.
Second, figuring out a nutrition and training plan before you ever get started will help keep you organized.. How far out is the race? Where is your fitness at now? If you plan ahead, it'll save you the headache of peaking too soon or burning out and getting injured while training.
Lastly, don't be too abrupt. If this is your first triathlon, or first IRONMAN, completely changing your lifestyle all at once makes staying on track difficult. Ease into it--you're in this for the long haul. Managing bite-sized changes is much easer than feeling like you're completely overwhelmed.
It's October now--seven months until race day. Right now, I'm enjoying building up my long, slow base miles, getting healthy and setting myself up for a hard six-month training program. Routine plays a huge role in IRONMAN success. Getting back in the game, creating a plan, executing and sticking with it will reap dividends on race day.
Interested in starting your own IRONMAN journey? Check out IRONMAN.com for a race near you.