Essential Sports Nutrition


EXPLORE new weather conditions


For 2018, I decided I would select a word to help define and guide my year.

I selected EXPLORE. 

I chose explore for many reasons but the original definition of "to travel in or through (an unfamiliar country or area) in order to learn about or familiarize oneself with it)" really spoke to me.

Although Karel and I will be doing a lot of traveling this year and thus, a lot of exploring, I felt like the word "explore" applies to so much more in life. As an example, sometimes it's important to explore our feelings. Feelings are often at the root of why we do and think certain things. Feelings drive our thoughts, behaviors and actions.

Although we are only in the 2nd week of the New Year, I have already explored my previous feelings about cold weather. In the past, I despised training outside in cold conditions. I never complained when it was cold because I knew I would be toasty warm inside on the bike trainer or treadmill. I never tried to train outside because well, it was just "too cold" for my liking. I developed a bad relationship with training in the cold, despite enjoying the change in weather in the winter. But the more I thought about things, I was simply resorting to what was comfortable and familiar to me. This thinking had little to do with my safety or health (with the right clothing, our cold weather is not unsafe for training) but instead, I had this idea of my "ideal" training conditions and anything less than my expectations was not practical and thus, I stayed indoors.

Well, that thinking doesn't work well in life for we will always be disappointed if we try to set a standard as to the best times or conditions to start or do/achieve something.

In further thinking, I recognized how much this mindset was not benefiting me for my upcoming races. Despite having big goals for myself in 2018, I must acknowledge and accept that come one of my five endurance triathlons this year, there's a good chance that I will experience race day conditions that are not ideal.

As part of my race day readiness, I need to explore training in unfamiliar and relative "sub-optimal" training conditions so long as my safety and health is never compromised. Although we can all build fitness and confidence by training in an environment that is comfortable, it's necessary to explore different conditions.

In the past week, I have rode my bike few times in 30-degree temps and have ran in sub 10-degree temps. This is all very new and unfamiliar to me but in keeping with my word of the year, it has been exciting to venture outside and explore how my body performs and how my mind works in different weather conditions.

Although I believe that athletes should primarily train in the environment that provides the best outcome for fitness gains and to keep the body in good health, we must pay attention to any thoughts that may be keeping us from exploring something new due to unfamiliarity. As an example, if you avoid training outside because it's "too cold" or "too wet" what will happen come race day if it's "too cold" or "too wet" for your liking? Will you start with the excuses that you can't race or you assume you will have a bad race or will you use your prior experience to know how to pace, dress and adjust your mindset for the best outcome possible with your given situation?

I really surprised myself over the past week for I never thought that I could train outside in such cold conditions. And it was COLD! But with each workout, I had a new, first time experience and I found it all really exciting, motivating and confidence-building.

Sometimes, when it comes down to it, we are our own worst enemy. We are scared or unwilling to step beyond what is comfortable and as a result, we miss out on many amazing life lessons and opportunities. It's so easy to fall into a routine or habits of doing what we like or doing what we are good at and avoiding what is "no fun". But learning about yourself and growing requires exploring new things in life - much of which may not be fun at the beginning.

With the help of my word of the year "EXPLORE" I have already found myself opening up to more opportunities and experiences. Now don't get me wrong - I would much rather train and race warm, dry and little to no wind conditions instead of cold, rainy and windy conditions but I can't control what will happen on race day. I am exploring new things this year because I want to put myself into situations that are out of my familiar/comfort zone in an effort to learn more about myself and in life in general.

I think it would be a shame to live life without exploring new things. I don't want to be in a rut of the same old routine day after day. I love living life and that includes exploring new weather conditions, food, people, places and experiences.

Life is to be lived and there is so much more to life than living within a space that is familiar and comfortable.