9/23/11

On and Off switch

When I started triathlons, my "switch" was always "ON". I was constantly thinking about triathlons, training and racing and in my free time (which was rare since I started triathlons competitively while in graduate school in 2004) I would read triathlon websites, triathlon articles and triathlon forums. My life was triathlons.

Now, my lifestyle is triathlons. Despite having a career of exercise physiologist, coach and dietitian, I find is easy to turn on and off my triathlon switch. For when it is ON I am ready to dedicate my mind and body to the training session that is in front of me. I also have a dimmer switch as I know that everything I do on a daily basis contributes to my overall health and performance.
In a previous post I discussed visualization with Marjorie (my licensed massage therapist here in Jacksonville) as a necessity in my training for I believe that mental "training" is a vital component of being a successful athlete and reaching individual goals. With quality training, I make every training session count and every training session has a purpose. I can't say that my body gives 110% AND feels amazing for every training session but I can say that I give my 110% effort for THAT day.

When my switch is "OFF" I return to daily responsibilities, knowing that I later in the day or the next morning, I have another opportunity to turn "ON" the switch.

Over the past few months, I have found it incredibly important to turn my switch OFF while I work at the hospital. When I work as a clinical dietitian, I completely forget about the outside world. My entire focus and purpose is to take care of my patients to the best of my ability. With the Ironman World Championships in 16 days, and a busy work schedule and heavy patient load at two separate hospitals (Baptist Medical Center South and Baptist Medical Center Beaches) this past week has been an act of balance, with my switch constantly turning on and off.

Yesterday started with a well-needed 30 min wake-up spin on my trainer due to a quick shower outside. After my legs were awake I headed outside with my fuel belt, visor and music for a tempo run. I welcomed the feeling of being a "runner" while training for an Ironman as my legs were alive and ready to go.
2.5 mile warm-up (8:27, 8:16, 8:12 min/mile pace per mile - last one was only .5 mile).
Main set:
3 x 1.25 mile "tempo" desc 1-3 w/ 2 min walk recovery
1) 9:13 (7:23 min/mile pace)
2) 9:10 (7:15 min/mile pace)
3) 9:10 (7:15 min/mile pace)
Warm-down: 8:12, 8:19 min/mile
+ Campy run
Total: 8.7 miles (1 hr and 11 min), 8:10 min/mile pace (including Campy run)

I quickly did my stretches, made a smoothie, showered, grabbed my lunch (which I made last night while making dinner, as I always do) and headed to the beach for work. OFF went the switch. For the first time I did two Outpatient educations (pregnancy nutrition and pre-diabetic) as well as seeing a few patients in the hospital.

Last night Karel and I had a fabulous (AND YUMMY!) dinner at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club and had the BEST three course meal (appetizer, entree and dessert) for Karel's Birthday. We both kept our switches "off" as we enjoyed each others company, catching up and enjoying the the beautiful ocean view. Karel has a night crit this weekend and I know he is super pumped for the 9pm, 80 minute race in downtown Bartow. Despite us both having deep passion for our sport of choice, we recognize that our sport is not our life. Once again, it is our lifestyle.

This morning both Karel and I woke up at 4:45am for me to go to swimming and for Karel to take his time before his morning bike ride with his boss, Jeff.
I absolutely love being in the water so after a quick strength session (working on machines, isolating single body parts for lower body) I jumped in the pool for a 90 min, 4500 yrd master swim.
500 warm-up
100 skull
4 x 150's (K,D,S) - IM order
Main set:
3 x 300's desc w/ 30 sec rest
600 pull
6 x 100's desc 1-3,4-6 w/ 15 sec rest
400 kick (I pulled a 600)
8 x 25's all out w/ 5 sec rest
Warm-down

After swim I stretched out my back, put on my scrubs and got myself ready for a super busy day at the hospital.
I had my biggest patient load to date as a clinical dietitian and with my switch on "OFF" I was able to stay focused and be super productive today at work.

While we all have different responsibilities and passions in life, I find it extremely important to recognize your ON and OFF switch.

As a health care worker, I recognize that many people choose not to ever turn ON their switch. While "us" athletes have a hard time turning OFF our switch (yes, I know that life gets in the way of triathlons and running sometimes), there is a large part of our population that has a hard time turning ON the switch.

Perhaps you are in the same predicament. For people who constantly strive for perfection, rather than progress, the switch has a hard time turning ON. For many, there is never a good, right, best time to start, thus lifestyle changes are often put off until tomorrow.

Seeing patients at the hospital, who come in with a painful cough, unintentional wt loss/eating problems or abdominal pain with no significant history, only to be diagnosed with a tumor or cancer, makes me sad. It isn't easy reading the progress note of a patient who was recently diagnosed with a life changing condition. While we know that all diseases can not be prevented, we can certainly minimize the risk or our chance.

Take a moment right now, tonight and over the weekend to assess your switch. Regardless if it is currently ON or OFF, ask yourself if you are making the best choices possible, on a daily basis, to increase longevity, minimize risk for disease, improve performance/fitness and most of all, increase your quality of life.

"As long as you're willing to give it a go, it is never too late. And there is just too much to love about life to simply give up and quit. You need to start living boldly, bravely, with nothing held back, nothing left behind. Giving it all that you've got each and every day. No matter how old or how young you may be right now, it's never too late to love, to live, to be all that you have dreamed of being and more. "