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Finding Motivation After Ironman

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, May 14, 2013
in Triathlons

For two years (2011-2012) all I thought about was completing the Ironman. Everything I talked about in some way was related to my nutrition, training, or race day preparation for the big race. My complete focus was to fulfill my life long dream of completing the Ironman when I turned 40. The mental and physical effort required to train for and complete the Ironman was immense and all consuming. In less than one year I entered 3 Ironman distance events. (Clermont Aquabike, Full Vineman, and Montreal Esprit). Read my story here

After 2 years of training....I did it! I completed my goal! Finishing the Ironman was by far the biggest accomplishment I have achieved in my racing life. In my mind I have reached the top and there is no event that will motivate me anywhere near the level I needed to complete an Ironman.


OK....Now what? After racing for 22 years and completing hundreds of road races and triathlons of all distances now what should I do? Should I retire and become a golfer? Should I take up gardening? I completed my Ironman on September 9th, 2012. Since then I have done a few half marathons and a number of 5k's but my motivation just isn't there. Every year at the end of the racing season I usually would get an idea about a certain event or distance I wanted to do the following season. This winter that did not happen. I tried to mentally force myself to "want" to enter a spring marathon or get in shape for early season triathlons but I just cannot generate any motivation or true interest. I am truly content and it is a little scary.

That's not to say I haven't been working out. One thing I have learned is that if you don't have to do something and you choose to do it then it must be something you truly enjoy. Since the Ironman I have not swam one stroke. I have done a few easy spins on the bike trainer over the winter but until last week my bike was still on the trainer collecting dust.

What I truly enjoy doing is running. I have been running 25-30 miles a week this year and I am not signed up for any big events. I just run 4-5 times a week and typically run 5-9 miles each time. For me this is very enjoyable and keeps me in reasonable shape. I also have been running in the Good Times 5k Series every Tuesday night which is also fun and satisfies my craving for racing. I am having a great time!

 

So is this a problem? Shouldn't I continue to be super motivated and ready to tackle my next big challenge? How can I possibly be happy if I am not training for a major event? I think what I am learning is that I do this for fun and right now I am having fun. In addition to running I have re-joined my Friday golf league. I stopped golfing last year due to Ironman training. I forgot how much I really enjoy playing golf and enjoying the company of friends on the golf course. Due to Ironman training I basically alienated a certain group of my friends due to lack of time. I didn't have time for golf or any of my other interests. I think this is typical for many people training for a major event. You are either training or recovering...not much else.

After completing a major event like the Ironman I think it is beneficial to take a break. Too many people try to ride the "high" of completing a major goal and roll right into another event. Sometimes this works but many times I have seen athletes get injured or the whole process becomes a lot of work with no enjoyment.

I know I will get motivated to tackle another challenge but I am not rushing into anything. I will continue to enjoy my Ironman "high" and run/race for fun. I plan on getting out for a few rides and open water swims and re-connect with the enjoyable parts of triathlon training. The big difference from last year is that if it is rainy, windy, or cold I will not have to force myself to ride or swim...better yet I will go for a run instead!

In case you haven't seen my Ironman finish...check out the video below.

 


 

 

 

 

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Win the War Against Holiday Weight Gain

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, October 10, 2012
in Weight Loss

 

As many of us have completed our goal races for the year or are in the final stretch before that big event, we start to look towards the off-season. Now whether your goal race was a half-marathon, marathon, or an Ironman, chances are you went through months of hard training and sacrifices to make your goal a reality. At this point you probably feel mentally and physically drained and need some much deserved time off. Guess what? You are right...you deserve it. This is a great time of the year to take some time off. The weather starts to get cold, plenty of holiday feasts and parties to enjoy, probably much needed vacation time from work..etc.

The big question is...Can we enjoy the off-season and re-charge our batteries without gaining weight? The answer is NO. Now you may have read a hundred articles about this subject and you may have got a candy coated answer about how you can avoid gaining weight. I am telling you it is impossible and you will gain weight. The real question is will you gain 5-10 lbs or will you go crazy and gain a ridiculous amount of weight.

If your big race is over and training for your event is done then guess what? You have started the war against weight gain. Make no mistake...you are in a war. Denying it will not keep the pounds off. I look at the battleground as the day my final race ends in the fall until after the New Year. Usually this is 2-3 months of time. My goal is to enjoy every party, holiday feast, and family gathering and weigh no more than 10 pounds heavier than I was before my end of season event. Ten pounds is manageable. What you don't want is to step on the scale and see 20-25 pounds or more on January 2nd...then you are looking at a major struggle to begin next season.

10 simple ways to avoid gaining crazy amounts of weight during the Holidays

1) Slow down your training....but don't stop! The off-season is a time to scale back...not completely shut it down. If you were running 5-6 days a week cut it down to 3-4 days a week. I try to run at least 4 days a week and I run 4-6 miles every time. I don't care about pace and I don't care about distance. I have set a mental minimum of 4 miles. If I want to run more I do. If I don't, then I run the minimum of 4 miles. Simple.

2) Try something new...some people like playing hockey, hiking, hunting, skiing, etc. If you have a sport you couldn't fit into your life due to your training, now is the time to enjoy it. Keep in mind hiking one day on the weekend does not replace a week's worth of maintenance runs.

3) Everyone has holiday parties to attend. If you are the host, here is a simple tip. As people leave give them something to take home. Get rid of the leftover cakes, pies, candy, rolls, etc. Anything left behind will be eaten by you...no question. Do not let people leave empty handed.

4) This goes against #3. If you are not the host, then do not accept anything to take home. Anything you take home usually does not last the car ride home or is eaten in the middle of the night. Politely refuse to take any food home with you. Instant savings to the waist line.

5) If asked to bring something to a party offer to bring a healthier dessert such as a fruit salad or some other low calorie dessert. Just about everyone is battling weight gain and although they won't ask you to bring something healthier they probably won't object if you offer.

6) If you know you are going to chow down at a big meal (such as Thanksgiving) then try to take it easy on the desserts. Maybe just a small piece of pie (just to be social). Limit the damage by choosing to overindulge on the meal or the dessert. Not both. The flip side is if you are at a work holiday party or another small gathering you could choose to eat a lite lunch and then have a big piece of pie. This is basic math folks...everything has calories and they all add up.

7) If you know you are having a huge meal, pie, snacks, etc. at a series of upcoming parties then limit the damage to just those days. It is nice to not have to think about calories or dieting and just be able to eat anything you want at Christmas Dinner. That is fine. Just don't turn every day into Christmas Dinner. Once the dinner is over, it is time to go back to normal eating habits. Don't allow any carryover into "normal" days after the parties are over.

8) Enjoy the parties and dinners but know when to say when. There is absolutely no excuse to have the second, third, or fourth piece of pie. It is OK to let yourself go a little bit, but don't commit dietary suicide. No one enjoys the third piece of pie anyway. Let's be honest. How do you feel later that night?

9) Don't forget that beverages also have calories. Try not to grab the big glass of eggnog with that piece of pie. Again it is all about the math and adding up the calories...one or the other...not both.

10) The Holiday season is the time that chocolates, candies, and baked goods start to show up at work. You must avoid workplace "grazing" at all costs. This is where you could really start to lose the war. You can overcome several parties spread out over a month or two but you will not win the war if you start eating 200-500 additional calories a day from candy jars at work. I know how it starts...you grab a piece of chocolate out of a dish at work and next thing you know you are having one every time you walk by. Then you are finding reasons to walk by the dish so you can have another one.....and then before you know it...

 

 The bottom line is the off-season is a time to relax and re-charge your batteries both mentally and physically. It is also an opportunity to enjoy the Holiday season and spend time with family and friends without strict dietary restrictions or workout plans. The reality is you will go back to training and when you do it will be a lot easier if you have only gained a few pounds. Good luck.

 

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