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Wednesday 30 November 2022

8 Ways to Motivate Yourself When You Think Exercise Sucks

I do triathlon. Which means that rather than being good at one sport, I am mediocre at three sports.

I do generally like doing all three, particularly when I'm not doing any of them and I'm remembering warm trail runs in the sunshine (rather than miserable February miles reps when there's sideways rain), cafe stops and rolling lanes on the bike (rather than headwinds, broken ribs and frozen fingers) and sunny days spent splashing around in a river with the promise of a hot chocolate afterwards (rather than getting kicked by a breaststroker while doing 400m reps with chlorine up my nose).

In fact, my favourite of the three disciplines tends to be either one of the two I'm not doing at that particular moment in time.

However, I have found that there are ways to motivate myself and talk myself into doing whatever horrific session my coach has dreamed up for me that day.

1. Track - Pretend you're a pro. Flounce around at track, take your stretches VERY seriously and absolutely do not do ANYTHING without first swigging a beetroot shot. Warning: Your street cred may plummet when you're dropped on the very first rep. If you have NO street cred … nothing to worry about. Otherwise just title your Strava workout 'Easy Run.'

'Easy Run' *puff, pant*

2. Pool – drop a Mars bar into the water and scream “Oh my God! Those kids have been in here with dodgy tummies again!” and point at it. Then when everyone is looking and scrambling to get out of the pool, casually hook it out and eat it. Guaranteed to clear the pool AND you've eaten the evidence. Ta-da – a lane (and pool!) all to yourself.

Is That a Mars Bar ..?

3. Cycling – think of the cake. Always the cake. If anyone comes with you on a bike ride and doesn't stop for cake, drop them. You don't need friends like that.

4. Running – get some very beautiful trainers. Then when everyone is distracted by looking at your beautiful shoes, shout “See you later, suckers!” and drop them in a sprint finish. People may say that this is unethical, but I can't help it if my shoes are very lovely.

Wow, Truly a Shoe of Beauty

5. Open Water Swimming – Get your lake practise done by going swimming in places that have enormous pike. This does wonders for your speed, cadence AND for 'warming up your wetsuit'. Don't get eaten though as this does tend to be distracting. Top Tip: To avoid this, swim quicker. Note: Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about when I mentioned how we warm up our wetsuits.  

I Hear There Are REALLY Big Fish in Here

6. Transition – The gaps between swimming and cycling and cycling and running are called transitions. These are where we do NOT dry our feet, brush our hair or generally fanny around. Transitions are to be done quickly and elegantly. Practise transitions by leaping out of the shower wet and running around the house before work in the mornings while looking for your bike and the towel you will not use. Your husband will be highly supportive and will definitely not say “Stop running around like a lunatic, the neighbours will think you're on drugs. AND You've dripped shower water in my coffee.”

7. Strength Work – This can be achieved by getting bigger portions of cake at the cake shop and lifting the fork repeatedly to your mouth. It's fuelling. FUELLING.

Road Closures: Stretching & Strength Work!

8. Stretching – This can be achieved by dropping your phone on the floor when on the indoor bike trainer and picking it up off the floor while still pedalling. This is top level stretching. Alternatively, if you can reach most places on your back when you have an itch, then you are probably stretchy enough.

I hope you've enjoyed my top class exercise tips for the keen runners and triathletes among us. You can't go wrong with these.

Wednesday 23 November 2022

Last Night I dreamed I went to Austria Again

Last night I dreamed I went to Austria again. It seemed to me that I was running down the corridors leading to the gates at the airport. The corridors were grey and anonymous, tiled floors. I couldn't remember which gate I was trying to get to or the time of the flight. As I ran, I was dropping my triathlon kit and I was going to be late. I'd not make it. I ran and ran, my heart beating fast and tears filling my eyes.

I'm stealing a passage from Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, but the dreams were real. Running through airports always late, forgetting a crucial bit of kit … and I'd wake. And realise that the race was already done. I had nothing to worry about.

A few years ago, I'd been lucky enough to race middle distance triathlon in GB kit. It had been such an honour but the pressure – which I had put on myself, rather than from anyone else – was immense. I hadn't worn the kit before the event, because rather than being proud of qualifying, I was worried that my team mates or fellow competitors would see me as a show-off or someone who thought she was better than she was. It was silly, I'd earned my place, after all. But it was how I felt. 

SO proud of being able to wear this kit

The race had been ok. I had been insanely stressed about it all, but I was lucky enough to have Paul and Dana take me under their wings. They had raced in GB kit many times before and were seasoned pros at this. They knew so much more than me and helped me so much, from navigating the hire car from along the roads from Munich to Walchsee to getting the bike rebuilt and getting it racked in the right place. Things hadn't gone quite to plan … dropped drinks bottles, snot rockets on me from fellow competitors to corpses in the Air BnB beds (Race report here) but I survived, stayed on the bike and made it home again (to a vandalised car but that's another story). 

However, as you might have guessed it didn't all end there. For at least a couple of months after getting back, every week or so I'd leap out of bed in the middle of the night and start collecting my tri kit, convinced I'd overslept for the race. I'd even got as far as grabbing my bike one night before I woke up properly and realised I was at home, it was a Tuesday night and I was wheeling my bike through the house to a race that was weeks ago! 

Check out those trusty ASICS GT2000s

Luckily it stopped after a few months, but it wasn't a nice feeling while it lasted. Don't get me wrong, being able to go back to bed again after realising there wasn't a race to go to that I was horribly late for, was lovely. But the panic and the beating heart was awful. I think it was just the pressure I'd put myself under as I was desperate not to 'show up' my team colours. As it was, the race was fairly eventful and not in a terribly good way, but it was a good learning experience and only my 2nd middle distance triathlon. So there had been a lot to learn and a lot of mistakes to be made.

Eyes on the Prize!

I've had a lot of big races since then. Multiple middle distance triathlons and even a couple of long distance ironman triathlons, but luckily I've never had the stress dreams come back. And I don't miss them.

Have you ever had anything like this? How did you manage it?