Endurance sports can be addicting. Perhaps it is completion of your first athletic event that fuels your fire to register for a longer-distance event. I think for most of us, however, we probably feel that our drive for a longer, more challenging race, is due to one or more of the following:
1) watching Ironman on TV
2) hearing stories from other endurance athletes
3) having friends who compete in endurance events
If you call yourself an athlete, I'm sure you have somehow inspired other people to participate in their first 5K race or triathlon. Maybe it wasn't your intention to do so, but it seems to be quite easy to give others the motivation to sign up and train for a once-unbelievable, yet achievable, experience.
Recently I had two friends complete ultra marathon events. My friend Kellie Smirnoff completed the Mountain Mist 50K trail run and placed 2nd overall female after 5 hours and 27 minutes and 4000+ feet of elevation gain. I'm pretty certain that a 50K is not in my future but then again, when I was huffing and puffing to finish a 6K cross country race during my senior year of college (2000), I could not have predicted that one day I would be an Ironman World Championship finisher.
Just yesterday my friend Saswata Roy, or should I say Dr. Roy MD, who practices Pediatric Otolaryngology and is an Assistant Professor Mayo Clinic, completed the The One to Grow on Ultra Marathon. 55 miles (5 mile loop) and 33 bride-repeats later, Saswata finished in 9 hours and 27 minutes. I still can't get over the fact that he ran 55 miles but when I saw him last night at a chili-athlon party, he said it was 100% mental. I am pretty certain that my body is not designed to run 55 miles, however, my body could probably swim 5 of those miles...running, not so much. I'll stick with 26.2 at the end of an Ironman.
After listening to the stories of my friend's participating and completing these crazy ultra races (yes-I know that an Ironman is pretty crazy) I do have that little voice in my head wondering if I could ever take on a challenge like that. Well, as my dietetic internship deadline date approaches in 2 weeks, I will just take 1 challenge at a time.
The thing with endurance races is that they are concrete. You know the distance and for the most part, you know what you need to do to get there. I would say that 90% of the people who sign up for an endurance event, that they not only know what to do to get to the finish line but they want to get to the finish line. The goal is typically just to finish and therefore, the steps to reaching your goal are realistic, manageable and practical. If you were never a runner or a swimmer or have little experience in cycling, you know need to work on your skills before completing your first triathlon. A baby must crawl before she can walk. If you excelled in swimming in college but are a new to running, you are likely going to create some type of "running" strategy so that you don't burn yourself out of training for an Ironman. If you have a hectic work schedule and busy lifestyle, it would be wise to create a training plan that will allow you to make the most out of your weekly workouts, in order to finish your first marathon rather than making your life fit around your training plan.
When it comes to the big day of participating in your first endurance event (for some it may be an Ironman, for others it may be a 15K running race) you think back to everything you did in order to prepare for the BIG day. You smile when you think of all of the dedication and hard work it took to get you ready for the big day. The obstacles and tiring workouts were challenging but looking back, you learned to appreciate the rewards in sticking to a training routine. There were certainly good days along with the bad days but most of all, you didn't give up.
I think we have all experienced the ups and days with training but what is a race without the "oh no's" during the race. GI upset, lightheadedness, sudden loss in drive/energy, frustration, extreme tiredness, negative thoughts....seriously, the list can go on forever. But for some reason, even with these possible "DNF" scenario's, you find a way to move on. You know you can't give up and you didn't work this hard just to give up. One foot in front of the other and before you know it...you are at the finish line....ready to do it all over again.
So...where is this going?
How do you view your nutrition-related endeavors? While it can certainly be a challenge to live a healthier lifestyle, do you ever ask yourself what is stopping your weight loss challenge?
There is a myth that it takes 21 days to create a habit. I have provided 21 tips to my devoted blog readers (thank you for reading my blog) in an effort to help you jump start your weight loss journey or quest to live a healthier lifestyle. Certainly you didn't have to implement every tip into your lifestyle but it was my hope, that for the last month, you would learn something new or remind yourself of something you may have learned in the past. Secondly, you would find a way to make that tip part of your life or at least, become more conscious of your eating or exercise routine, by trying out the tip for a day or two.
I found this pic on the internet and I thought it was just perfect for the last day of my 21 tips.
According to the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (I had to read it in grad school and I highly recommend it)
A habit is the intersection of knowledge, skill and desire.
Knowledge is the theoretical paradigm, the what to do and the why.
Skill is the how to do.
Desire is the motivation, the want to do.
In order to make something a habit you have to have knowledge, skill and desire.
I hope that I have provided you with loads of knowledge in order to help you figure out what it is you need to focus on to reach your weight loss/performance goals. Rather than telling yourself you "need to lose weight" "I am fat" "I want to be lean" the knowledge you have of living a healthier life will help you work on the weakness's in your current eating and exercise routine.
Next comes skills. Whether you need to eat more fruits and veggie, weight train or include more quality protein in the diet, you recognize what it takes to be healthier rather than just wondering what you need to do to "look good in my jeans".
Just like you need to have a bike to train for a triathlon, you need to have fruits and veggies stocked in your fridge in order to eat more fruits and veggies on a daily basis.
Lastly comes desire. Here's the tricky part. Do you have the desire to live a healthier lifestyle? Are you committed to consistent exercise and healthy eating or do you make excuses and say "it is too hard" or "I'll start tomorrow". The day you sign up for a marathon or IM, you are 100% committed. You know that it won't be easy but you know how amazing it will feel when you reach the finish line.
Maybe weight loss, exercise and healthy eating doesn't have a finish line. Come to think of it, it doesn't. You will always have to be conscious of what you are eating, why you are eating it and how much of it you are eating. You will always have to have some type of motivation to get in a workout.
While this all sounds miserable and undesirable, it is time that you take on the challenge and realize that living a healthier lifestyle is a want and a need. More than anything, with new habits and a challenge here and there, you will learn to love your new life and never want to go back to old, unhealthy habits.
*I'd love to hear if any of my tips helped you out in your weight loss/performance journey?
*Did you make a nutrition/exercise-related resolution? Are you still sticking to your resolution?
*Do you still struggle with any tips in my Jan blog posts? Do you have other struggles with your healthy-journey?