Mental Game

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Days to the Tremblant Ironman: 19 (Yup, days!)

It’s hard to believe that there is less than one month to the Ironman. The last few weeks have been so busy – with travel, weddings, and life – that they have been a bit of a blur.

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As much as I try to stay in the present moment, I tend to be hard on myself and feel like I could have done better in this busy period. I want to do it all – but have come to realize that I can’t do everything well, at least not everything at the same time. Certain aspects of my life will need to take a back seat, in order for me to devote the time needed towards training. In the last few busy weeks I missed workouts, and felt unmotivated (mainly from exhaustion) to check off all the training. But I need to stop with the should-a, could-a, would-a, and focus on the time ahead. 19 days. I also need to focus on my mental game for the next 3 weeks, and my mental strategy for the actual day.

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I’ve had numerous successes since the Muskoka half. I swam 3400 m (only 400m short of the IM distance) and it felt easy, comfortable, and smooth. Yes! I also climbed fairly hilly roads in Toronto and made it to the top without stopping (woo!)! I rode the Duplessis hills in Tremblant and only cursed once (progress, not perfection, is what I’m after!) and I generally feel stronger and more ready than last year to tackle the Ironman.

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I had a few good chats with a friend of mine who loves cycling (read, unlike me) and something she said has stuck with me – “You don’t have to love it, and that’s ok.” In other words, don’t force love. (Isn’t that the truth!) I was trying to switch my mental game to loving the bike, trying to tell myself that “YES, this is amazing!”, but it never worked. My mind and my body are fully aware that I don’t love cycling. I enjoy it from time to time, of course, and it’s beautiful to be outside on a sunny summer day. That said, I don’t get any sort of high from biking. It’s work. It’s hard. And there is no reward during, or after, the workout. Or so I thought.

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180 km of “This is hard and that’s ok” on repeat.

I stepped back to compare my experience, and my perception, of the three sports recently. I love to swim and can stay in the water all day. I’m not a fast swimmer, but I’m comfortable in the water. I love to run and know that I can mentally push through pain and exhaustion once my runners are laced. The bike portion though, I’m less fond of. I feel a sense of accomplishment once I mount a hilly hill, sure, and it’s a good workout when your thighs burn and your lungs tire. My mind though remains in a negative space, not enjoying the experience, and not wanting to push too hard. It feels like work. A lot of work. And this is where I need to evolve my mental game.

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Running is my first true love – no faking the smile here!

The reward in hard work can be the hard work itself. I have to repeat that for it to really sink in.

The reward in hard work can be the hard work itself.

As I keep my cadence up, push and pull on the pedals, I am rewarded by the feedback my body receives – the sensation of pain as my body is working, and the feeling of my heart and lungs working, hard. Knowing that I am alive, putting my body through a challenging workout, one that will make me stronger, both physically and mentally.

And so rather than try to love the bike, I’ve decided to become ok with not loving it. I’ll be telling myself throughout my next rides and my Ironman race too, that “This is hard and that is ok.”

Life isn’t meant to be easy. We strive to achieve big goals because lofty goals force us to stretch, grow, and evolve. It’s when we really push past our limits that we achieve great success.

With a few days left before my taper, I’m aiming on completing some last hard and long workouts. Yes, my last few weeks have been far from perfect, but I know what I need to do with the time left. I need to complete one last long, hilly, and hard ride, and I need to get in another long swim and run. Then it’s taper time, with shorter intense workouts, and mental preparation for the big race in Tremblant.

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Keeping the diabetes in check.

I’ll be honest – this whole journey over the last few years has been eye opening on so many levels. I know how my body and my type 1 diabetes responds to all kinds of exercise and stress, I know now how my mind reacts to various challenges, I realize the importance of balance and life priorities, and, last but not least, I know that the race itself is just the celebration of this whole journey. The hard work is almost all done, then it’ll be time to simply show up and have fun!

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My pack of three. Can’t wait for more quality time with my family.

How do you mentally prepare for the sports which you are less fond of? Or are weakest in? Let me know in the comments below. Would love to hear your strategies!

Happy training,

xo

 

Muskoka 70.3

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Weeks to the Tremblant Ironman: 6 weeks (minus 2 days!)

So it’s somehow almost the middle of July, and my big scary Ironman goal is less than 6 weeks away! The weeks are flying by, but I’m sticking as best I can to my training plans, and continuing to build confidence that I will finish the 140.6 mile endeavor come August 20th. As a stepping stone, I decided to race the hilly and tough Muskoka 70.3 course over the weekend. The Muskoka hills are humbling but dare I say, enjoyable. They provide variety over the 94km bike leg, and allow for stunning views of the surrounding areas.

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The Muskoka 70.3 race is definitely one that I would recommend. You most likely will not get a PB (the average winning time is about 30 minutes slower than other Canadian 70.3 races), but the course, the people, and the town all make for an unforgettable experience.

Here are my thoughts on my race:

Pre-race:

Hunstville is about 2 hours north east of Toronto. It’s the main town in Muskoka, a beautiful lake and cottage region of Ontario. Think rolling hills, lakes and ice cream shops. It’s true Canadiana. Ie. My kind of place.

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My boyfriend, our dog (we adopted a puppy!) Josephine, and I left Toronto on Saturday morning, after a last quick brick session. This was the first time that I did a workout the day before a race, and I have to say, it’s a great idea! My coach had me do an optional 20 min swim (I didn’t get to it) , and a 30 min bike followed by a 20 min run. Seeing as I was sleep deprived after our puppy’s adoption and house training schedule, I hadn’t managed to get in all my workouts in my taper week. So I knew that this Saturday workout was key to reassure me that ‘Yes you can do this’. It allowed me to trust my training, and feel ready and strong for Sunday’s race.

After registering at the Canada Summit Centre, dropping off my bike, and coming back to get my timing chip (forgot to pick it up the first time around…whoops!) we left the high energy transition area and spent the afternoon and evening with friends in Bracebridge. It’s nice to get away from the craziness of the event, and relax the night prior to a big race. I actually felt calm and relaxed all of Saturday. It was a welcome surprise. My diabetes control was also on point, and I was feeling excited to tackle the course.

Race morning:

Alarm goes off at 4:45am and I’m 9.2. I usually try and get in some form of breakfast 2 hours before the start, so that my insulin is no longer on board when I hit the water. I was feeling anxious and emotional, way more than usual. I even joked about hitting the snooze button and going back to bed. My mind was oddly worried that I wouldn’t be able to finish the race, even though I had been training consistently, and knew, rationally, that I would have no problem. The mind is a funny thing. Thank goodness for my boyfriend and his calming ways – I am so fortunate to have a partner who is both supportive of my crazy athletic goals, and able to calm my sometimes anxious self.

We drove over to the transition and I prepared my area with bare necessitates. I divided my food by the hour in ziplock bags, I left out my tester and a towel to dry my feet, and had my helmet and sunglasses ready. The rain looked like it would pass, and so I didn’t bother keeping my rain gear at transition. I wanted fewer items to distract me once I came out of the swim, and off the bike.

I set out three goals for my day – have quicker transitions, push steadily on the bike, and practice my nutrition by getting in enough food. Now that I know I can complete the half Ironman distance my goals can be more specific. It’s no longer about ‘Can I do this?’ but rather ‘How can I be stronger, and faster, and have a smoother day?’

Swim: 1.9kms, 1 loop

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The swim is one loop, consisting of a triangle ‘out’ into the lake, and then a straight swim down the river. It was a quiet morning with no waves, and the water temperature was around 22 degrees – perfect! I checked before the swim and was 11.1. Last year I ate a banana pre-start of the 70.3 but then ended up at 18 after the swim, so this year I simply lowered my basal rate by 50% an hour before the start, and took two gels on me in case I needed them during the swim. I did not want to be high starting the bike.

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It was my first open water swim of the season (not recommended to do your first OWS on race day!) and my sighting was way off. I ended up swimming an additional 200m. Starting of in an early wave also meant that I had many faster swimmers pass me, push me, and/or swim over me. Not the best swim experience, but I still enjoyed it. Note to self: practice more in open water.

Bike: 94 (hilly) kms, 1 loop

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I tested in transition and was 11.2. Sweet! I wasn’t high. In my happiness I forgot to give myself some insulin (to counter the stress of the bike start – different large muscles, and the race adrenaline, will cause my blood sugar to rise, especially for the first hour on the bike) and instead set out on the bike feeling good about my diabetes management thus far.

An hour into the bike and I knew my blood sugars were off. I stopped to check and was 18.2. My legs and lungs felt strong, but I felt off. I knew I wasn’t pushing as hard as I should be. I managed to climb up the first (and biggest) hill on Britannia, but wasn’t feeling my best. Sure enough my blood sugar reflected it, and I gave some insulin, but also ate. In the past I wouldn’t eat if my blood sugar were that high (that’s four times the normal level!) but I knew that I had to take care of the athlete first, and the athlete needed energy. So I managed to get in some carbs, and kept pushing along. I checked my blood sugar again around 45km, and was still 18. Argh. I gave more insulin (but was careful not to give the usual correction dose for fear of going low later on the run) and ate more as well.

I felt pretty strong finally in the third hour, was passing people, and working on my cadence – I checked at the three hour mark and had finally dropped to 12. Yes! Now I can take in more food (managed to have a Snickers and a waffle) and not worry about feeling sick.

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Surprised by a roadside hello by my boyfriend around 75 km. My family and friends can live track me on my Garmin 735XT – the best feature for spectators!

The bike leg surprised me – I knew that I had become a stronger cyclist over this last year, but I could really sense the difference. I was easily managing to go up the hills, I felt more confident on the descends, and I enjoyed the entire 94km course. I didn’t find myself swearing, or questioning my life choices. It was a good day for a cyclist – and, craziest thing – I actually felt like one.

Run: 21.1 kms, 2 loops

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Yes, the run! I’m a runner first and foremost, and I look forward to the run the entire day. I can mentally push myself a lot more easily when I run then when I bike. I came into transition and checked my CGM – it read 7.2 with a steady arrow. Since I have many more years of experience as a runner than as a cyclist, I know how to tackle my diabetes management. I decided to start by eating 30 grams of carbs, and disconnect my pump, at least for the first hour of my run. I settled into a comfortable running pace, my legs felt heavy but smooth (is that a thing?) and I knew that I had plenty of time to make any cut-offs, so I felt good.

The new course is a two loop run through the town of Huntsville. It has a few climbs – namely at the start after transition and a few in town, but overall it is a great running course. The clouds from the morning had disappeared and the run was hot! There weren’t many trees lining the course, but thankfully a few spectators took out their sprinklers and were cooling us down!

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I made new friends – hi Trevor! – who had a comfortable running pace, and then powered through the last 10km solo. I reconnected my pump around 15km, as my blood sugar was slowly drifting up, and still continued to get in pepsi and water to cool down and gain energy. I was quite hot, but my legs felt strong. Another big win! I was cheered on by friends in town and managed to finish strong, with a smile on my face. Success!

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After a delicious post-race meal with my friend who also finished her first 70.3 (Go Diana!), and some Kawartha ice cream, I was ready for bed. Muskoka, you’re a special race, and I just might come back again.

Now it’s only 6 weeks until the big Ironman in Tremblant….Yikes! I’m taking a few days off for easy recovery, then hitting the ground running for the final stretch.

I gained a lot of confidence doing this race – I trusted my training, realized that I really did do my best in the winter and spring training months, and now get to enjoy the rewards. It really is true what they say – control your controllables. And don’t worry about the rest.

Will you follow along as I tackle my last big training weeks? Would love the continued support – it means so much!

Happy training,

Remember to enjoy this life and fill it with adventure and challenges,

xo

P.S. Wondering about my awesome kit? It’s my kit from the Diabetes Sports Project. As a DSP champion, I’m all about advocating for a healthy and active lifestyle for those living with Type 1 Diabetes. Check out their great work at: http://diabetessportsproject.com/

 

 

 

For the Love of Carbs

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Weeks to the Tremblant Ironman: 10.5

Weeks to the Muskoka (training day) Half: 4.5

A few weeks ago I had an appointment with a great sport dietitian and learned some very important things – first and foremost that I am underfed. Knowing that I’m a medical doctor by education, and someone who is quite familiar with nutrition, the dietitian was honest and direct. I wasn’t getting in nearly enough food for the endurance workouts that I was completing. Although I was eating well during my long workouts, getting in the 20g of carbs every 20 minutes, I wasn’t adding in enough recovery foods or eating enough carbs on a day to day basis. After years of healthy and balanced eating, it was hard for me to realize that I had to substantially increase my diet so that my body could recover well and continue to stay healthy as my training ramps up.

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Beautiful run along the Oakville lake front.

Many endurance athletes are aware that they need to eat more (case in point) but are ensure of how to actually get in the appropriate amount of nutrients. I’m not a huge fan of liquid nutrition or liquid calories and so haven’t been a big fan of smoothies or protein shakes. I’m learning though that it’s much simpler and faster to drink my calories than to eat them. Of course, I also realize that getting in more carbohydrates means that my diabetes management has to change – I have already figured out a good strategy for my needs but as my food intake increases, so does my insulin. Taking in an additional 40-60g of carbs per day (how many I was missing!) requires juggling of my insulin, and that’s ok.

Healthy eating can mean many things. I have always been an advocate for balanced eating, with no labeling of good or bad foods. I enjoy all foods, in moderation.

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Training is always more fun with friends!

That said, looking through my food diary with my dietitian I found out that I eat a little too many high fat foods (avocados, olives, nuts, cheese) and far too few carbs. I am not averse to carbs and had a feeling that I wasn’t eating enough. What then happens is that my body can’t pull out the energy it needs from the fats as efficiently as someone on a low or no carb diet (I wouldn’t recommend low carb diets for athletes but am aware that some athletes choose this approach). My body therefore was getting confused – I was working out so much but not eating enough carbs, but was also somehow eating enough carbs that the calories and energy from the fatty foods were not being put to use most effectively.

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I look happy but those Collingwood hills tested my mental game!

So, in order to focus on #projectraceweight, I had to first change my diet, and overhaul my carb intake.

Enter, #fortheloveofcarbs.

I have now been slowly tweaking my diet to include more healthy carbs – from bananas to greek yogurt, from apples to a second helping of sweet potatoes. I need an afternoon snack every day, and focus on quick and proper recovery foods. I prefer low GI carbs that have the most bang for their buck in terms of nutrition, and affect my blood sugars less intensely than higher GI carbs. I also have lowered my intake of (delicious) fatty foods like avocados, cheese, ice cream, and nuts. I still eat these foods, but try and reach for a fruit or vegetable first, then for a handful of nuts, for instance.

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Nature filled trail runs = the best runs. #ThanksEric

It’s only been a few weeks since I started this new plan and so far I have noticed that my energy has increased and I’m feeling better. My immune system is liking the extra carbs (carbs are crucial for a well functioning immune system) and my muscles feel strong. (Although I still did get sick this past weekend. A busy wedding weekend though is likely to blame.)

In my next appointment I’ll be looking at how to make minor tweaks to my diet to become a bit leaner, although my top priority remains to eat well to perform well. If I have a few extra pounds on my frame, then I have a few extra pounds. It’s not the end of the world.

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Trail running in the rain – back to basics. #love

Training is going well (apart from this little sickness hiatus) and I had a great training weekend up in Collingwood with the Toronto Triathlon Club over the May long weekend. The hills and the wind made for a challenging weekend of riding, but a fun trail run and group TT races balanced out the weekend and it was a lot of fun!

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Finally outside riding!

Looking forward I know that I need to keep focusing on my health, and getting in the right nutrients to be strong. My type A personality makes it so that I struggle with rest and recovery. I tend to use my rest time to be a busy body and socialize or get errands done. I need to listen to my body more and rest. Actually rest.

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Recovery. I need to get better at it.

It looks like this week will be a bit of a write off in terms of my training but I am ready to hit the ground running next week. I’ll have 4 weeks until the Muskoka half, and I’m eager to see how I will perform. I am definitely stronger and leaner than last year, and so hope to see and feel the difference on race day.

So, with that, I’m off to nap.

Let me know – have you noticed that increasing your carb intake has helped your training? Has a change in your diet improved your immune system or made you a stronger athlete? Would love to hear about your experiences.

Happy training!

xo

 

Belief.

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Weeks to the Tremblant Ironman: 14

Spring is here, and it’s starting to feel like we might actually have a beautiful summer ahead, after the long winter. With 14 weeks to go until the big race, I am more committed than ever to really work hard at hitting my workout goals.

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I had a few good weeks of training, and one not so great week (silly immune system), but am working steadily at making sure that I am resting and taking care of my body so that I will remain healthy and injury free in the next few months. My long rides are now 100km, and my long runs are 20km long. Next weekend I’ll be training in Collingwood with the Toronto Triathlon Club and excited to get in a lot of long (outdoor!) rides. I also had my longest swim set of over 3000m last week, which is a great confidence boost to be able to complete the longer swim distances with more ease. And confidence boosts are always welcome additions – especially when belief is such an important part of this journey.

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Swim, swim, swim! When it feels smooth and easy – yes!

I don’t really remember when I first started thinking about doing an Ironman. I do vividly remember watching Simon Whitfield though win the gold medal for Canada in the first triathlon competition at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

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I was in awe of his dedication and his athleticism. Throughout the years I always admired the endurance athletes – whether professional athletes or friends participating in endurance races. I surrounded myself with athletes – from boyfriends to roommates – I wanted to be inspired by their routines and their mental ability to go after their grand goals, whether that was the Olympics or a Boston qualifying marathon time.

I wanted to grow, stretch, and experience more of life. At the core though I think I simply wanted to challenge myself. See how far I could go, see what my body, and perhaps more importantly, what my mind was capable of.

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One foot in front of the other. Let’s do this! #spotthepump

These endurance events are about so much more than swimming, biking, and running. Whenever we as humans push past our limits we are ultimately questioning our ability to break down the barriers that we may have placed on our goals.

What kind of limits have you placed on your life?

I have written about this before, but oftentimes we become bound by our fears and our expectations of what we can or cannot achieve. It’s crazy, said one. There is no way that I could do that, said another. My friend could do that, but I would never be able to do it, said a third.

Here’s the thing though, you can do it. You are able to do it. Whatever it may be.

This year I am noticing that I am becoming stronger – my legs and arms are leaner, my core is very slowly tightening up, yes, but mentally I am also starting to shift my mindset and am realizing that I can, and should, expect more from myself. I can run faster, I can swim better, and I can be strong on the bike, my nemesis.

One lesson here? Consistency is paying off. (And having a coach is also key!)

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Putting in the hours to become a stronger athlete.

Another important lesson though is that it takes time to sometimes believe that you can in fact do something. Sometimes you have to go through the motions to train and retrain your brain to think that you are capable. From diabetes mishaps to DNFs in previous races a small part of me worried that I would not be able to be strong enough to succeed. I spoke of ‘hoping’ to reach the finish line, or ‘planning’ to do well. Doubt would slowly creep in whenever I had a less than perfect workout, or a less than perfect diabetes management strategy.

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Post 3.5 hour brick blood sugar level – perfection! #takethatdiabetes

Our internal dialogue is more important than we may at first realize. Catch yourself when you doubt yourself. What are you telling yourself? How are you dealing with the negative emotions that may hinder your progress, in training, or in life?

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Runs to fuel the soul. #hometown #montreal

And this is why Ironman training is as much, if not more, a mental game than it is a physical endeavor. My thoughts have to keep me positive, feeling capable of pushing forwards to the end of the workout. They have to make sure that I don’t doubt myself, and that they are supporting my actions.

I have trained and retrained my mind to think in a positive and grateful way, now it’s time for me to train and retrain my belief channels.

No more planning, hoping, ‘will see-ing’. It’s all about the doing, the completing, the achieving.

Keep following along as I prepare to do the Tremblant Ironman, when I will complete the 3.8km swim, the 180km bike, and the 42,2 km run. I will achieve the goal that I have set out for myself.

I will be an Ironman.

Happy training,

xo

P.S. Seeing a sports nutritionist tomorrow (appointment was moved) and so I will report back on the progress of my #projectraceweight post and my food goals for the next 14 weeks in my next post. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 Iโ€™m coming down with a cold or [something]… then Iโ€™ll make adjustments, but for the most part Iโ€™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 NoNoNo:ย  https://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 Canadaย 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 Canadaย 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 Iโ€™m about to begin my 8th week of training (how did that happen?), itโ€™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 donโ€™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 Iโ€™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.ย  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 โ€“ letโ€™s make it a bit easier by leaning out! ย In the last few weeks Iโ€™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.ย  Yes I thought! I am in! I like projects โ€“ they are organized and have a clear goal, with well-defined steps. ย 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 โ€“ this is not an โ€˜idealโ€™ 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:ย 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.

ย Step 2:ย Calculate current lean body mass.

Lean body mass = current weight โ€“ fat mass.

In this example: 140 lbs โ€“ 30.8 lbs = 109.2 lbs.

ย Step 3:ย Calculate goal race weight.

Goal weight = Current lean body mass รท Goal lean body mass percentage. (Note: goal lean body mass percentage is 1.0 โ€“ your goal body fat percentage expressed in decimal form.) In this example: 109.2 lbs รท 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:

ย Take an honest look at your current diet. You donโ€™t have to share this list with anyone, ย 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 bodyโ€™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 youโ€™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 Iโ€™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 Canadaย 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.