It’s getting real

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Weeks to the Tremblant Ironman: 18 (O.M.G.)

Weekly totals:

Swim: 1h00 (The couch won on Wed night…STILL need to get back to my 2x swims per week.)

Bike: 4h30

Run: 1h30 (Knee started acting up so my long run was cut short.)

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I see buds! Spring is here!

Although there are still 18 weeks to go before I line up at the swim start in Tremblant, it somehow is all starting to feel very real. And very, well, close. The sun is out. The buds are starting to show, and I don’t feel close to ready to take on the big challenge of an Ironman. Yet.

The little bit of fear is finally getting to me, and making me realize that I really do need to work harder at being consistent and not missing workouts. This week my couch got me and I missed my swim workout. (Ok, so technically I made the decision not to go, but the guilt has been eating away at me. My coach even said he’d come take away my couch if I don’t go to my next swim workout – he knows what I value!)

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‘The’ couch.

I’m not sure if I’m tired (evening weekday motivation is usually quite low) or if I’m in a bit of a motivation slump. Maybe I’m just needing to take a few days to refresh my mindset. Happens to all of us. Once we have set a goal, how do we stay motivated? How do we remind ourselves that the goal is worth the sacrifice, and the work?

Here are a few ways that I have tried in the last couple of days to get my mind back on track:

  1. Visualize success: Define what success first feels like for you. Where are you? Who are you with? What will it feel like to have attained your goal? Speak in the present tense when visualizing the culmination of your goal. For example: On August 20th I will cross (run or walk across) the finish line of the Tremblant Ironman, and have a huge (tired) smile on my face.
  2. Channel your role model: I look up to many professional triathletes, from Mirinda ‘Rinny’ Carfrae to Chrissie Wellington.
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I often ask myself, “What would Rinny do?”

They work immensely hard to achieve their goals. Would they skip a workout? Would they miss their morning alarm? Probably not. Rinny’s thoughts on training? “I stick to a plan and get the work done,” she says. “Unless I’m coming down with a cold or [something]… then I’ll make adjustments, but for the most part I’m very strict with my training plan.” New word for the next 18 weeks: S-T-R-I-C-T. Why? #becauseironman

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3 hour rides and it’s only April?! Ahh! Yikes!

3. Fake it until you become it. This goes back to consistency. If I’m consistent I’ll get stronger, and faster. If I’m consistent I’ll be that much more confident to tackle the distances on Ironman day. Many of us deal with self-doubt in our professional and personal lives. We wonder whether we are good enough, smart enough, or imposters. Women especially have been more prone to developing the ‘imposter syndrome’. Will people take us seriously? Will they believe that we are capable of offering x product or service, etc? If you’re not convinced yourself, then take it one day at a time. Repeat the actions and the behaviours over and over again, and slowly your mind will shift from doubt to belief. Everyone must start somewhere. Begin with what you have, and where you are. Take that first step. My motto? One day and one workout at a time.

3b. Remind yourself that you are capable. If the motivation slump is due to doubt, think back to other goals that you have accomplished. Sometimes reminding the mind that you were able to set out goals, and put a plan in place to succeed, and do the work required to get there, can kick-start your motivation. For me it might be thinking back to how I wanted to become a doctor, and I graduated from medical school, or how I wanted to complete a marathon, and I crossed that finish line in NYC with a huge smile on my face. For you it might be running your first 5km, or completing that big project at work. It might be setting a plan in motion to budget for and organize a long vacation, or write your Master thesis. Whatever you have accomplished in the past was, at least in part, due to your perseverance and hard work. Relive those memories, pat yourself on the back, and use that positive energy to propel you forwards as you attain new goals.

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30 years of type 1 management. I’m doing a pretty fine job, if I dare say so myself. #post3h30workout #perfectBG

4. Cue the motivation music. When all else fails, trick the brain by listening to motivational music. There’s a reason why motivational speakers blast energetic music before they come on stage, there’s a reason why athletes have their favorite pre-race songs cued up on their phone, there’s a reason why you too should have a list of fave songs. Music appeals to our primal emotions. It stirs up a reaction that can shift our mindset. Try it. Some of my current go-to motivational tunes?

  1. The song I had on repeat when I ran my first marathon (ie. a song that means something to you): ex. Human, by the Killers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIZdjT1472Y
  2. Powerful female pop songs: ex. Stronger, by Kelly Clarkson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=47&v=Xn676-fLq7I
  3. A good positive beat: ex. Work this Body, by Walk the Moon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzkCk6-d8Oc
  4. Gritty classic Eminem: ex. Lose Yourself, by Eminem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Yhyp-_hX2s
  5. Workout specific lyrics: ex. Pumpin’ blood, by NoNoNohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3j4I0PqNzKE
  6. ‘Be in the moment’ music: ex. The Nights, by Avicii: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtF6Jej8yb4

With a refresh of my music playlist and a refresh of my motivation mindset, I will tackle the next week with a bit more oomph!

How do you stay motivated in long training cycles? Do you have any go-to strategies that consistently work for you? Let me know.

Next up? A blog on food and meal planning, following up on my popular #ProjectRaceWeight post.

Happy training!

xo

Animas Canada has graciously chosen to support me with the Dexcom CGM and the Animas Vibe Insulin Pump as I train for and race Ironman Tremblant. I believe in full transparency and appreciate that Animas Canada does not review or approve my blog posts. They want me to share my honest experience with the device. I am also fortunate enough to have been chosen to be a Diabetes Sports Project Champion. Learn more about their great work here. As always, all opinions and posts are purely my own.

 

 

 

Numbers Game

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Weeks to the Tremblant Ironman: 19 (That’s under 20. Yikes!)

Weekly totals:

Swim: 1h00 (Missed one workout because the pool was closed) Need to get back to my 2x swims per week.

Bike: 3h45

Run: 3h30

(Mental work (for type 1 management and for getting psyched to workout some days): At least an hour or two a day maybe?)

Total: 8h15 (+7-14 hours of mental work!)

Training for Tremblant is consistently moving forwards – the last few weeks have seen some great workouts and some not so great workouts. I was fighting a cold and missed a handful of my scheduled training days and then had to slowly get back to a consistent schedule. Consistency is my word du jour this year, and I’m focusing a lot of my energy on making sure that I don’t get carried away with the work that remains (there’s a lot of work before the starting line in August!) but rather focus on the daily task at hand.

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This last week was finally a healthy and strong week for me and I’m really starting to feel stronger and more able, which is a big confident boost! What I’ve come to notice though is that with my type 1 management, and the training, my mind is often cluttered with additional questions and numbers. So. Many. Numbers. Thought I’d give you a little look into how my mind processes these questions, and why sometimes I really just like to train by feel and effort. As long as my coach adjusts my workouts accordingly, I feel good knowing that I’m hitting my workout distances or times, and steadily ramping up. For me (and other triathletes are sure to differ) it’s important to give my mind a bit of a break every now and then. After all, type 1 is a 24/7 condition that requires a lot of mental fortitude.

So, here we go, let’s jump into a type 1 triathlete’s mind for the next little while, and consider the challenges that exist when you have to think about numbers all day long (because no, my insulin pump does not make any of the decisions for me….yet):

1. Be in the moment (but know everything about the last few hours and the next couple of hours too.):

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Pre-workout: How much insulin do I have on board? What’s my basal or background level right now? When did I last eat? What did I eat? How will the carbs and the combination of fats and protein affect the way in which the energy is released? Will it be enough to counter-act the insulin and the aerobic workout?

(Insulin doesn’t act right away and so once I give myself insulin it stays in my system for about 3 hours. It also will act up when I’m working out which means I have to be careful to not start exercising if there is too much insulin on board.)

2. Be the carb counting queen and a part-time dietician (but eat intuitively and without focusing too much on the details of your food.):

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Any time you eat: Ok, what’s my blood sugar? How much insulin do I have on board? How much insulin do I need to correct for my blood sugar (if it’s not in range)? What are the main constituents of my meal or snack? How many carbs are in it? How many grams of fiber (which will lower the total number of carbs)? Is there any fat or protein (which will release the sugar a little slower)? What did I eat 2-3 hours before this meal? Will it perhaps still kick in a bit? What kind of workout do I plan to do later today? Should I actually lower my insulin for this meal/snack since I want to be at a particular blood sugar number before the next workout? What is the planned workout for today? How much extra energy do I need to sustain myself as I complete the workout?

Ouff.

Maybe most importantly, what do I actually feel like eating?

3. Focus on your workout (but don’t forget that the workout can’t happen if you don’t have the right blood sugar):

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During the workouts I have to focus on the task at hand. What heart rate should I hitting? What is my running pace supposed to be? Is my swimming stroke fast enough? How’s my power output? Am I hitting my one minute power for this interval? Can I push harder in the next interval? How long is this swim drill?

Thankfully my coach sets up my workouts for me, and I also have great trainers at my indoor cycling studio – but it still means that I need to think about all of these additional factors while also managing my type 1. Did I mention that I’m probably thinking about something all the time?

 

4. Drink just the right amount of fluid (but don’t forget that thirst symptoms can be masked by tiredness and/or high blood sugars):image_9

During a sweat test at my indoor cycling club last weekend I measured out my sweat rate and realized that I’m pretty on point with my fluid intake – which is great news! It means that I am taking in just the right amount of fluid. Word of caution here: it’s more dangerous to be severely over-hydrated than dehydrated. Of course, you don’t want to be dehydrated. But taking in too much fluid (and not enough salt) can lead to hyponatremia, which can have dire consequences.

5. Treat and feed the athlete first (but remember that you do have type 1 diabetes so all of the above still applies):

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One of my biggest pieces of advice for any type 1 athlete is that you are first and foremost an athlete. Then you have to factor in your type 1. Now, I know that some of you might be wondering – but you mention that the wrong starting blood sugar can throw off a workout..? And that the food you eat for lunch might cause you to pivot and course correct your evening workout if you didn’t carb count correctly? Yes, and yes. But here’s the thing: Regardless of your blood sugar, your body needs the right nutrients and the right fluids to be an athlete. For example: If you’re out on a 2 hour bike ride and your blood sugar is a bit too high during the first hour, you can’t simply give insulin and wait for it to drop without eating. You need to test, retest, experiment, and find a way that you can get in some nutrients while also getting back to a normal range. You need to treat the athlete. Feed the athlete. Hydrate the athlete. (But remember that yes, you also have type 1 diabetes.)

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So happy to run outside – yay for spring!

Ok, I think that’s enough of the number game – kind of crazy right? There are so many thoughts running through my mind every day that I honestly sometimes wonder where it’s all stored. To be a type 1 athlete you have to be committed, patient, and able and willing to take it one day, one workout at a time. (Having a coach take care of the actual workouts also helps immensely!)

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My version of a type 1 fanny pack for the gym – all my testing and food supplies!

Are you a type 1 athlete? Do these thoughts sound familiar? Let me know in the comments below. Love to hear from you!

Have a great week of training,

xo

Animas Canada has graciously chosen to support me with the Dexcom CGM and the Animas Vibe Insulin Pump as I train for and race Ironman Tremblant. I believe in full transparency and appreciate that Animas Canada does not review or approve my blog posts. They want me to share my honest experience with the device. I am also fortunate enough to have been chosen to be a Diabetes Sports Project Champion. Learn more about their great work here. As always, all opinions and posts are purely my own.

 

 

#ProjectRaceWeight

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Weeks to the Tremblant Ironman: 22

Now that I’m about to begin my 8th week of training (how did that happen?), it’s probably the right time to really focus on my eating habits (overdue I know!), and my desire to lean out and slowly attain my healthy race weight. Before I get into the details of #projectraceweight and how I plan to implement my goal though, I want to mention a few very important points:

  1. I believe in tracking healthy behaviours and allowing your body to naturally reach a healthy weight. I don’t track my weight on a regular basis, since my day to day actions (healthy and active behaviours) can be tracked and controlled. My weight, the actual number on the scale, cannot be controlled, and will fluctuate despite my healthiest efforts.

image(29)2. I will be working towards an estimate of my healthy race weight, knowing that it is merely a target for me as I work towards reaching the finish line at Ironman Tremblant. (See below about how to estimate your race weight.)

3. Now that my weekly trainings are scheduled and consistent, for the most part, my focus will shift to developing a solid action plan and incorporating more healthy behaviours into my eating habits.

Off season is over and I’m in the swing of my training for Tremblant. I have definitely enjoyed a few delicious but high caloric foods (ice cream! cheese! ) and rested during the off season. The off season is great. It is a wonderful and much needed break in the year that allows your body and mind to reset, and then hit the ground excited and motivated to begin anew.  As expected, as my mind relaxed and my body recovered from the intense training season, I also became a bit less focused on my diet, and I gained a handful of pounds. I want to get leaner so that I can be stronger and faster. Climbing the Tremblant hills is hard enough – let’s make it a bit easier by leaning out!  In the last few weeks I’ve been making small changes like incorporating more whole foods, more meal preparation, and healthy ready-to-go post workouts snacks. I need a more detailed plan to succeed though.

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Mmm…Ice cream!

Ok, back to the topic du jour – how did #projectraceweight begin?

Enter facebook and my triathlon community.

A fellow triathlete friend commented on a facebook post that she is also hoping to reach a certain weight before the triathlon season. Cleverly, she named the project: #projectraceweight.  Yes I thought! I am in! I like projects – they are organized and have a clear goal, with well-defined steps.  A few of us then started a facebook group and we are committed to supporting one another and providing a space where we can share advice and be held accountable to being the healthiest athletes possible. Dictated more so by performance and fitness rather than weight, we are setting targets to help us remain motivated and accountable.

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Here are the basic details to setting up your own version of #projectraceweight:

1.Set a few general objectives for you and/or your group of friends, such as:

1.Have healthy eating habits that match up to our training schedules and volumes.

2.Nourish and fuel our bodies so that we can improve our performance.

3.Aim to achieve a weight that works for us – this is not an ‘ideal’ weight. It is not a diet. It is about eating healthily and planning our meals so that we can ensure our optimal performance.

2.Estimate your healthy race weight:

There are a few ways to go about establishing your race weight. Like I mention above, this number is simply a target so that you are held more accountable to fueling right. I know that my body performs well and simply feels good when it’s a touch lighter than my current weight. (Do not consider this number as an end goal. It’s a sweet spot that allows you to be strong and perform at your best.)

Have you previously raced at a certain weight and felt good? Felt strong? This number is a great estimate of your healthy racing weight. Muscle weighs more than fat and so often we actually weigh more than we think we should when we are our fittest selves.

Your healthy race weight is mainly affected by your body fat percentage, as you will perform at your best when your body fat percentage is at, or close to, an optimal range. If you do not have any body fat to lose, then continue to focus on fueling well. No need to lose weight. (Important side note: Everyone will have a different optimal range, depending on genetics, age, medical history, athletic fitness and athletic goals, etc..) Do you know your body fat percentage? If not, there are several ways that you can figure this one out. From DEXA scans to scales, to skin folds and/or waist and hip measurements, many tools exist to find this number. Start out with this basic calculator: http://www.active.com/fitness/calculators/bodyfat

Once you have your current body fat percentage, you can estimate your goal body fat percentage based on the following table:

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If you are well above your range, aim to reach the top end of your range based on your age. Otherwise you can look at the following table to estimate your goal body fat percentage:

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You can try this equation: racingweight.com/rwe or you can then input the numbers into the following steps and equations, courtesy of Matt Fitzgerald, author of Racing Weight:

In this example provided by Matt:

  • Current body fat percentage: 22
  • Desired body fat percentage: 17
  • Current weight: 140 lbs

Step 1: Calculate current body fat mass.

Body fat mass = current weight x current body fat percentage expressed in decimal form.

In this example: 140 lbs x 0.22 = 30.8 lbs.

 Step 2: Calculate current lean body mass.

Lean body mass = current weight – fat mass.

In this example: 140 lbs – 30.8 lbs = 109.2 lbs.

 Step 3: Calculate goal race weight.

Goal weight = Current lean body mass ÷ Goal lean body mass percentage. (Note: goal lean body mass percentage is 1.0 – your goal body fat percentage expressed in decimal form.) In this example: 109.2 lbs ÷ 0.83 = 131.5 lbs. Ta-da!

(Read more at http://running.competitor.com/2014/01/nutrition/racing-weight-how-much-should-you-weigh_14665#UPA303aT2CSdfK6d.99)

Lastly, if all of these numbers and equations have left you lost and confused, don’t worry. Aim to tone up, train smart, eat quality foods with the right amount of protein, carbohydrate, and nutrients, and your body will fall into a healthy weight. As I mention at the start of this blog post – focus on healthy and active behaviours. Use this target weight equation only if you feel like it will motivate you to reach your performance goals.

3.Give food logging a serious try:

 Take an honest look at your current diet. You don’t have to share this list with anyone,  and so be honest. Are you snacking every afternoon on high caloric foods? Are you mindlessly eating before bed? Will that food choice help or hinder your performance at your next workout? After logging for a week I noticed that I was consistently craving sweets around 3-4pm. I then looked back at my lunch options and realized that I needed to eat quite a bit more in order to fend off the afternoon hunger bangs. (As a type 1 athlete I also have to make sure that not only is my food intake matching my body’s fueling needs, but the foods I eat also need to work with my blood sugar levels.)

Next up? It’ll be time to get serious about the triathlete’s meal plan!

I will be drafting up a nutritious meal plan that includes menu plans for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for my boyfriend and I. If you’re anything like me, you have been thinking about having a meal prep and menu plan for months, maybe even years. I plan in so many other areas in my life, but somehow still find myself sometimes unsure about dinner right as I’m starting to get hungry, you guessed, for dinner. With all the scheduled workouts I am often preparing meals quickly, and reaching for easily accessible and prepared foods. I know that I can do better.

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In a future blog I’ll also post the process of setting up your kitchen for Ironman success! I’ve started the process at home by cleaning out the panty, and writing out a grocery list for the week. Baby steps right?

(Quick update on my last week of training: Managed to have a solid 10km run workout early in the week, before I got sick. I then made turmeric lattes, ginger teas, and ate chicken soup. Did it all! Tried to get in my other workouts throughout the week but cut them all short because I continued to feel quite under the weather. Doctors really do make the worst patients! I finally listened to my body and took yesterday off to rest. Thankful that I managed to get my 2h15 bike workout in today though – as biking is my weakest sport I’m so happy that I felt a million times better today to complete that workout! Woo hoo!)

Happy training,

xo

Animas Canada has graciously chosen to support me with the Dexcom CGM and the Animas Vibe Insulin Pump as I train for and race Ironman Tremblant. I believe in full transparency and appreciate that Animas Canada does not review or approve my blog posts. They want me to share my honest experience with the device. I am also fortunate enough to have been chosen to be a Diabetes Sports Project Champion. Learn more about their great work here. As always, all opinions and posts are purely my own.

Diabetes Sports Project

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Weeks to the Tremblant Ironman: 23

A few months ago I was contacted by a few of the great guys at the Diabetes Sports Project and asked to be a champion on their team. Um, yes please! Of course I would love to be an advocate for diabetes and exercise.

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#spotthepump

Diabetes Sports Project (DSP) is an organization built to inspire. Led by a group of world class athletes who thrive with diabetes, their stories, athletic accomplishments and community outreach empower others to live healthy, responsible and active lives.

“I want movement, not a calm course of existence.”

As many of you know by reading my blog, living with type 1 diabetes is not easy. (Understatement of the century.) Does it challenge me as I train for this Ironman? Certainly. Does it make my day to day a touch more difficult than your average non-type 1? Most definitely.

 

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What it also does is fuel my passion, and power my ambition.

Why do I crave to accomplish such seemingly impossible feats? Why do I choose to push myself both physically and mentally through this Ironman journey (a second time)? Type 1 diabetes has managed to color my perception of what is expected and accepted for us to all accomplish in this lifetime.

Why must we follow suit and all trudge along the same path? Ask yourself the important questions.

What are you scared to accomplish? Who do you look up to? Ever see someone and wish you could live their life – what are you waiting for? What one small change can you make today to get you closer to your goal?

I was always in awe of the endurance athletes – their lean and strong bodies, their drive and mental stamina – it all appealed to me. I want that kind of epic training schedule, I thought. I want to put in the miles. Ride the hills. Quicken my cadence. Go to training camps. Mingle amongst the fittest people out there. I want to be a part of that community, and be driven to live out my wildest dreams.

I want that kind of epic life.

What kind of epic life do you want?

Representing the Diabetes Sports Project allows me to take my love of athletics, of ambitious goals, and share my story with a larger audience. It connects me to a group of like-minded type 1 athletes throughout the world, from endurance runner Amy in Australia (@amylmck) to yoga instructor Lauren in New York (@lauren_bongiorno) and ultra-runner Roger in Australia (@roger.hanney).

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Founded by a great group of athletes the Diabetes Sports Project is a unique organization who aims to inspire and empower:

WHO WE ARE

DSP is comprised of the world’s elite diabetic athlete ambassadors who inspire and educate the diabetes community to achieve their goals and aspirations. These ambassadors demonstrate how through proper diet, exercise, a positive outlook and effective blood glucose management dreams can be achieved.

WHAT WE DO

The DSP ambassadors are directly engaged in community events within the diabetes and healthcare industry around the world. We participate in diabetes camps, JDRF & ADA events, industry conferences and trade shows, hospital visits, patient support groups, medical professional events and much more. Additionally, our athletes compete at the highest levels of sports to demonstrate that goals can be achieved with diabetes.

We are dedicated to empowering those affected by type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Through inspirational and educational community engagement along with competition in the biggest sporting events in the world, DSP will inspire and educate millions of people affected by diabetes.

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For many who are starting out their exercise pursuits it might seem daunting to manage a chronic disease and a workout regime. Often I am asked about where and how to start on the journey.

After recently meeting with a friend’s type 1 husband and giving him a few management pointers and links, I realized that the internet can in fact be an overwhelming resource – how can you differentiate between the accurate and false information? If you are newly diagnosed and stumble upon a site that recommends for you (or your child) not to exercise for free of hypoglycemias, I want to reassure you that yes you can workout. You can swim, you can bike, you can run.

Have type 1 diabetes? You can, and should, break a sweat.

But how should you workout safely? And how will your management change?

 

My ‘simple’ advice is to know your exercises and the ways in which your body reacts to the workouts – will swimming need a lower basal rate? Can you take off your pump? Will cycling cause you to spike as you finish up your workout? Know the variables that you can control. Remember to eat. Remember to drink. Most importantly, keep track of your trends. Keep a journal and write everything down. Do morning workouts and evening workouts need more or less insulin? Can you develop trends during your menstrual cycles? If you’re sick but able to workout lightly, by how much do you need to increase your insulin? The list goes on…

(Need some help to get started? Check out the new exercise guidelines. Have more questions? I will revisit all of these topics in future posts, but for now let me know and I would be happy to help you: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/landia/article/PIIS2213-8587(17)30014-1/fulltext)

With 23 weeks left until my Ironman I am definitely breaking a sweat. And often! Working out 6/7 days I am starting to see and feel my body getting stronger. My pull is improving in the water, my legs are more powerful on the bike, and running continues to be my escape, my first love, when I let my body and mind relax.

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I also continue to focus on consistency – and doing the best that I can with life and work obligations and priorities. Life priority number #1 last week? Flying down to meet my newborn niece! I had a great few days in New York City visiting my brother and meeting my niece, and I managed to get my long run in Central Park, and took advantage of the indoor gym to fit in my bike (albeit shortened) workout. My training volume is slowly increasing and it feels good (last week I had 9:10 of workouts). My workouts will continue to get longer though. Yikes! It’s only March. That means that I’ll be really strong and really ready come August, right? I’m trusting you Eric!) <– My coach.

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#love #mylittleawesomepeanut #babyfever

Most importantly I realized that my goals are right for me – I want to get stronger, I want to commit to this goal like never before. I feel confident that I can get there this year.

The epic finish line will happen.

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Those are buds right? Come on spring…

 

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Family runs in the park. #slowdownspeedybro

That’s all for now. It’s way past my bedtime.

Thanks for following my journey,

See you back here next Sunday!

xo

Animas Canada has graciously chosen to support me with the Dexcom CGM and the Animas Vibe Insulin Pump as I train for and race Ironman Tremblant. I believe in full transparency and appreciate that Animas Canada does not review or approve my blog posts. They want me to share my honest experience with the device. I am also fortunate enough to have been chosen to be a Diabetes Sports Project Champion. Learn more about their great work here. As always, all opinions and posts are purely my own.

 

 

Recovery time.

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Weeks to the Tremblant Ironman: 25 weeks

This last week was a recovery week for me – I kept my workouts varied but less intense. I swam, I biked, and I ran, and I let my body recover and rest before my training volume increases once again next week.

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Looking ahead.

Recovery weeks allow not only the body to recover and rebuild, but they also allow for the mind to relax. Training for an Ironman is without doubt a physical endeavor. It is, though, also a tough mental undertaking, and the rest provided by a recovery week is key.

In life we often jump onto these ambitious timelines and lofty goals, pushing ahead in order to do things faster, better, and more successfully. We are so wrapped up in the end goal that we forget how important it is to rest during the process. We consider it to be a weakness if we take a day off, or spend time dedicated to self-improvement.

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Focusing on better nutrition? Yes please!

Take the time to rest. To breathe. To be.

The benefit of having a recovery week scheduled into my training is that I have no choice but to slow down, to rest, to breathe. I remain focused on staying consistent, and checking off my workouts. I want to give my body and my mind the time and the space to grow, so that I can become a better and stronger athlete, but also a more balanced person.

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Still working out the tweaks with my insulin needs.

Have you been working non-stop to achieve a goal? Are you so wrapped up in the end-goal that you have not taken a step back to consider whether or not the process is working for you? For your health?

We should all aim to schedule in rest and recovery into our busy lives. Take the vacation with your kids. Do not reschedule the date with your husband. Book that massage that you have been putting off. Rest your mind and your body so that you can tackle what is to come.

This life, our life, is not meant to be rushed through. Slow it down. Start right now.

Happy resting,

xo

Animas Canada has graciously chosen to support me with the Dexcom CGM and the Animas Vibe Insulin Pump as I train for and race Ironman Tremblant. I believe in full transparency and appreciate that Animas Canada does not review or approve my blog posts. They want me to share my honest experience with the device. I am also fortunate enough to have been chosen to be a Diabetes Sports Project Champion. Learn more about their great work here. As always, all opinions and posts are purely my own

Learn to Tri

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Weeks to the Tremblant Ironman: 26 weeks

This past week I had my longest swim, bike, and run workouts since last summer – a 2500m swim, a 2h20 bike, and a 70 minute run. These distances are a far cry from the actual full distances that I’ll have to complete come August, but it feels good to get some good mileage in this week.

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Right now I’m working on staying consistent and not letting my immune system get in the way – this week I was fighting  a cold and missed my swim workout with the club, but managed to do my other workouts and even hit my 5 min time trial. I’ll take it!

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As I’ve started my training in the last few weeks I have been asked by a few people how they can get started in triathlon. They are interested in the sport but have no idea what they need to do to get started. What equipment do they need?  What kind of fitness do they need to have? What kind of distances exist?

I’m going to share some of my answers to the most common questions, all centered around learning to tri and needs vs wants (we all know the sexy triathlon bikes are a draw!):

1. I want to do a triathlon but the Ironman is far too crazy for me. What other options exist?

I sometimes question my desire to complete the full distance Ironman (3.86 km swim, 180.25km bike, 42.2 run) but know that the distance is right for me, at this time. There are however many different distances –

The Sprint – 750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run

The Olympic – 1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run

The Half Ironman – 1900m swim, 90km bike, 21.1km run

There are also relay options – love to bike but not swim? Have a friend take on the swim portion and do the bike and run. Or love to run? Try out a relay race with two friends and only do the run. Make a weekend out of it and remember to have fun.

2. I’ve heard that triathlon is a very expensive sport. I love the idea of trying one out, but my budget can’t handle all of the pricey equipment. Any solutions?

Yes! You definitely don’t need too many things to try out a triathlon. And there are many things that you can buy second hand. (Check out this swap next weekend if you’re in Toronto and looking for a good deal on gently used triathlon products: Enduro Sport Swap.)

Here are a few of the needs and wants of triathlon:

Need: Swimsuit/Goggles, Cycling shoes, Helmet, Running shoes + fitness clothing

  • Swimsuit: You don’t need anything fancy here. Pick a suit that fits well and that you’re excited to wear. Have you had the same suit for the last 10 years? Maybe it’s time to invest in a fresh one for your training ahead.
  • Goggles: Make sure you find a pair that fits well. Try them on outside of the pool and check their fit – do they stay in place without you having to put the elastic around your head?
  • Cycling shoes: If you decide to clip into your pedals you will need cycling shoes. Road shoes are generally heavier and more durable, although higher end ones are fairly light. Triathlon shoes can be worn without socks (they have more ventilation) and can be pulled on more easily. What kind of riding do you mostly do? Pick a cycling shoe that fits well, and is within your price range. Don’t be tempted by the $400 carbon fibre shoe… (yet).
  • Helmet: Fit here is key. A lighter helmet with plenty of ventilation will also be more comfortable, and aerodynamic helmets exist as well. But most important is a proper fitting helmet that will protect your head. Change your helmet every 3-4 years, and never keep a helmet that was involved in a crash, even if a minor one.
  • Running shoes: So many options here. Cushioned or minimalist, pick a shoe that work for you and your terrain. Not sure where to start? Many stores will give you a proper gait analysis and suggest a pair. My favorites right now are New Balance Fresh Foam Zante – cushioned but light, and they make me feel fast!
  • Fitness clothing: Whatever fits well and keeps you cool – both in temperature and in style. I’m a big fan of colorful fun fitness wear and am fortunate to have a sister in law who runs her own great athleisure apparel studio, Cardio Glow. Thanks Kathleen for all the great clothing!

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Want: Wetsuit, Aero bars (if you want to add them to your road bike), triathlon bike, triathlon shoes, power meters, triathlon watch, the list goes on.

  • Wetsuit: Prices range from $200 to $1000+. A more expensive suit will fit more closely to your body, and provide buoyancy and flexibility, allowing a greater range of motion, and an easier and smoother pull. My advice? Rent an entry level wetsuit for your first race. Then, if you see yourself doing a minimum of a few triathlons (regardless of distance), invest in a good quality wetsuit. Skip the first entry level model and get the second tiered suit, or something a touch higher quality. This way you start off the race with a comfortable suit and your stroke will benefit too. Look at the suits that start around $350+. Don’t forget that you can also buy wetsuits second hand – just double check that there are no holes or tears.
  • Aero bars: If you choose to get aero bars make sure to have a professional check on the new fit of your bike. Your body will be positioned differently when leaning down on the bars, and you will likely have to get used to a new fit. Reserve about $175-$350 for the bars, when bought new.
  • Triathlon bike: Triathlon bikes are beneficial when doing longer distance races, especially if they are flat courses. Planning to do a half and/or a full distance Ironman? Look into entry level bikes and consider possibly getting a second hand bike. Many triathletes upgrade their bikes once they realize how much they love triathlon and so it’s worth checking out some second hand options while you are looking into triathlon/time trial bikes. Triathlon bikes are approximately $2,000 and up, but often heavily discounted if used.
  • Power meters: If you’re a metric focused athlete who wants to have a way to measure fitness and effort (and have some money to spare) getting a power meter might be a  good idea. Knowing how much power you are generating can mean that you are exerting yourself consistently when riding varied terrains and distances, meaning that your legs and lungs will be stronger for the run portion of the race. Generally speaking power meters start at around $1,200.
  • Watches: My watch is a triathlon specific watch – the Garmin 735xt – and it’s been awesome to have in the last couple of months. Do you need a triathlon watch? No, you can track your workouts in a diary and follow a plan and do well. After all, it’s all about putting in the time. That said, I do find having a watch helpful and so would recommend that you start training without one first and then research options if you feel like your training would benefit from the additional feedback/tracking that the watch can provide. A GPS running watch can set you back $200 and fancier ones are closer to $600-700. Here too you can buy second hand, just be sure that the battery life is long enough for your race distance and time.

Rent/Borrow:

  • Wetsuit – You can rent a wetsuit for around $50 for 4 days and then usually put that $50 towards a purchase in the future.
  • Road bike – You can rent a road bike for your race – but make sure to rent it at least once before race day to get a feel for it. Also make sure that you know some basic bike maintenance so that you can change a flat tire, or adjust your saddle.
  • Cycling shoes – If you are trying out a shorter distance race and you have access to a bike and cycling shoes that fit, then give them a try (make sure you know how to clip in and out of the pedals). That said, you can most definitely do a shorter distance race with running shoes and flat pedals. You can also take your mountain bike or hybrid bike to most races – just be sure to double check that you are allowed to use the bike so that you’re not surprised the morning of the race, and left without a bike!

3. I’m a fairly fit/unfit individual – how do I pick the right training plan?

It’s important for you to be fairly realistic when it comes to planning out your training. Although my plan right now consists of two workouts per sport, per week, start out with one swim, one bike, and one run per week – fit in some cross training and general activity (walk/bike to work) too. Include recovery weeks – I take every fourth week off as a recovery week (this next week for instance! woot woot!) when I still complete the workouts but they are shortened and less intense. Lastly, pick a race that allows you to train properly and patiently. Do not plan to train for an Ironman in two months. Know your abilities and choose wisely.

4. I’m a really strong swimmer but I don’t know if I’m weaker at cycling or running. How do I decide which sports to focus on most?

Biking is my weakest sport, without a doubt. I have come to realize that in order to be successful at my Ironman race I have to become a stronger cyclist. Does that mean that I can take it easy on the swim or the run? Of course not. My swim needs a lot of work too, but I enjoy it, and I am more motivated to stay in the pool than I am to train on an indoor trainer. I also love to run, but I can certainly become a stronger and faster runner. All this to say that you should make an inventory of your stronger and weaker sports – which do you enjoy most, and which require work? When life gets busy and you need to skip a workout (it happens to the best of us) try and get a quality workout in your weaker sport. You’ll thank me come race day!

5. None of my friends are interested in doing a triathlon this summer but I need the extra support and accountability. What can I do?

Having the right support system is so important. Even if none of your close friends or family members want to try a triathlon with you, you can easily find others in your area to join in on the fun. Here are a few ways to make new tri friends:

  1. Join a club – I’m a member of the Toronto Triathlon Club and have met so many fellow triathletes through my membership. We’ve sweated it out together at bike studios, motivated each other to hit the pool deck for workouts, and trained together in Collingwood, Muskoka, and Tremblant. If you’re more of a cyclist you can join a cycling club or a running club too. Often times you’ll meet athletes who like a challenge and they might be keen to register for a triathlon too!
  2. Follow triathletes on social media – I’m fairly visible on social media and try to inspire others to lead healthy and active lives. I also love to follow other triathletes – both amateurs and professionals – to get a dose of motivation delivered to my phone. Some of my favorite accounts to follow? @gwenjorgensen, @mirindacarfrae, @linseycorbin, @IronmanTri, @paula_findlay,  and @janfrodeno.

6.What’s all this talk of triathlon having a fourth or fifth sport?

You might have heard that there are many other parts to the triathlon race, that it’s not only a swim, bike, and run race. That is in fact true. You have to learn about transitions, about nutrition, and you have to learn a lot about time management. All in all these new challenges are exciting and help you grow as an athlete and an individual. Don’t feel scared to take them on. Follow my lead by taking it one day, and one workout, at a time.

7. This seems like a sport for the young, is it not?

No, not at all. More and more age ranges exist in triathlon. Simply put, you are never too old to tri.

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And so, although it may seem daunting to commit to tri this season, if you break down the steps needed to see that finish line you’ll quickly notice that you can in fact do it. Find a goal that motivates you and works for your schedule, take an inventory of the people and the equipment who will help you get there, and start putting in the work. Be consistent and remember to have fun.

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Are you a newbie? Have any other questions about the sport? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll answer or point you in the right direction.

Until next week,

Happy training!

xo

Animas Canada has graciously chosen to support me with the Dexcom CGM and the Animas Vibe Insulin Pump as I train for and race Ironman Tremblant. I believe in full transparency and appreciate that Animas Canada does not review or approve my blog posts. They want me to share my honest experience with the device. I am also fortunate enough to have been chosen to be a Diabetes Sports Project Champion. Learn more about their great work here. As always, all opinions and posts are purely my own

 

 

14 days +

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Weeks to the Tremblant Ironman: 27 weeks

I’ve been at my training plan for two weeks and the biggest thing that I have noticed is that my diabetes management has significantly improved. I need less insulin, and my metabolism has really kicked into a healthier zone – ie. the after effects of exercise are helping my blood sugars remain steady and happy. I’ve had a few lower than usual numbers, but knew that it would be a process to get my basal levels where they need to be.

Diabetes aside (when is it actually ever ‘aside’ though, really?) I’ve been taking the training one workout and one day at a time. Having the experience of training and racing the half and full distance races has been really helpful in setting up my mindset this year – I know all too well the extent of work that is involved in preparing for the 140.6 miles. Although the Ironman is a long day and I will have to be at my peak fitness in order to complete it strong, confidently, and within my goal time (Sub 15 hours), I am focusing my energy on being consistent. There’s something really beautiful about endurance athletics – You can’t succeed unless you start small and remain consistent. You really do need to put in the work.

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Hmm. Double down arrows post late evening workout (ie. blood sugar level is dropping, fast!). Time to drop that basal rate.

So you might be wondering, what do my workouts actually look like? Maybe you want to one day tackle the Ironman distance and think it’s just a little bit too crazy,  a little bit too much of a commitment, but somehow find yourself looking up Ironman motivation videos and checking out registration sites for future races.

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Welcome to my Saturday morning routine. Join me?

My training so far looks a little something like this:

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For a weekly total of around 8 hours. It’s taking some getting used to (the night of my first rest day I remember asking my boyfriend: “Do I really workout again tomorrow morning?”) but I am loving having the routine.

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Juice boxes and fans. Two of my favorite things.

My focus in these first few weeks has been to 1) be consistent 2)be in the moment – working hard and focusing on technique and breathing and 3)enjoy the process.

Next up for me will be to focus on my nutrition so that I am eating enough to sustain myself as my training volume increases. I have mapped out my training until August 20th and in order to really grow and become a better athlete I need to get lean and strong – and I know that food will make a huge difference. I also need to keep focusing on sleep. It’s such an important priority for me that I need to reinstate my ‘go to bed’ alarm, and actually keep to it.

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Reading up on my ‘racing weight’ and learning about strategies to get lean. (And yay for a nice bg!)

The funny thing that happens when you start doing the daily actions that drive you closer to a goal, is that you start to question your other life goals.

Why don’t we all go after our wildest dreams? Why do we sometimes resort to living a life that makes sense for others? That is expected? Easily understood?

I’ve often done things against the grain and am called a free spirit by some – I am passionately driven for the right cause, and constantly seek out opportunities that will enable me to grow both as an individual and as a professional. This Ironman journey has re-sparked my desire to do things a little differently – I find myself watching tiny home DIY shows (don’t worry mom I won’t live in a tiny home, but a tiny cabin by the lake would be nice?), thinking of how amazing and chaotic a home with 4 kids would be (did you know that the norm right now is only 1.2 kids per family?), and dreaming of a self imposed schedule that would allow me to be a role model for my family and my friends – whether in athletics, in business, or in inspired living.

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I’m in a really good place and it feels like the opportunities are endless. (Consistent exercise and activity have a way of injecting life with positivity. Try it!) How do I now use this energy to propel myself forwards?

How do you take an inventory of your life, your relationships, and really examine whether they make sense for you and your life vision?

I sometimes start by looking at my day to day living and listing out the things or activities or people that I would like more of in my life (what do you want more of in your life?), and then listing out the things that you are happy to let go of. Then it becomes a matter of finding time every week to take on more of the ‘more’ and less of the ‘less’.

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More time in the outdoors please! Check.

I don’t know why so many of us put off our dreams – we shelve our desires until the right time rolls around, sometimes waiting far too long to take that leap, to even take that first step. I challenge you to try. Take that first step. Try it on for size.

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The first day, the first swim, of my training plan.

My Ironman journey is certainly one of many steps, and I feel like I’m heading in the right direction by taking it one workout and one day at a time. I visualize a strong race and a happy finish line. I am also using the mental strategies that I learn while training for this grueling race in my day to day life – breaking down my goals in baby steps, being present, and enjoying the (majority) of the process.

Tomorrow I begin week 3 – ‘only’ 27 more to go!

See you next Sunday,

Happy training,

xo

Animas Canada has graciously chosen to support me with the Dexcom CGM and the Animas Vibe Insulin Pump as I train for and race Ironman Tremblant. I believe in full transparency and appreciate that Animas Canada does not review or approve my blog posts. They want me to share my honest experience with the device. I am also fortunate enough to have been chosen to be a Diabetes Sports Project Champion. Learn more about their great work here. As always, all opinions and posts are purely my own.