Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ennui? There's an App for that.

South Jersey has been under seige for most of February. Three back-to-back snowstorms have had me snowed in with work and school cancelled and a compelling argument for doing nothing but drinking whiskey and baking cookies. It had gotten so bad that yesterday, when the flurries started, my first thought was "Where's the cake?!".

Before the storm, or BS, I was pretty good at keeping a 5-7 day a week schedule of workouts. Since the great hibernation I've stretched the term "exercise" to first include sledding and building snow forts, to shoveling the walk, then to doing laundry and finally to listening to the radio instead of the tv. Thank goodness for the treadmill and trainer or I might have completely calcified.

To combat the sloth, I started looking around for new workout podcasts. Santa brought me an i-pod Touch for Christmas and I've been having a great time (much to the pleasure of the fine accountants at itunes) loading all sorts of diversions.

I have found two free podcasts that are helping me through the grey days. The first is called Motion Traxx: Fuel for Fitness. It's free to subscribe. I'm not sure how often they upload new episodes but I've downloaded about 5. They are workout routines set to music with the beats per minute calculated so that you can choose a workout to get you to the speed you want. There are tracks for walking, jogging, running and cycling and some sprint workouts as well. All you have to do is keep up with the music, the sets are organized to increase your speed according to the workout type. The next is called Indoor Cycling Podcast. I've downloaded a few episodes but confess that I haven't listened to them yet. They are advertised as spin workouts though which is great because I can't seem to get to the gym at the time of the spin classes. I also downloaded a program called BeaTunes which calculated the bpm of all my own music stored in itunes (why itunes doesn't already include this feature is a mystery to me). Then I was able to use the Playlist feature of itunes to create playlists of my own music within a certain range of bpm. I also made a list of songs that just make me smile for the days I really don't want to be out there.

Despite yesterday's amazing yoga class, it had been a couple days since I had done anything to really get my heartrate up and today was looking like it would be another lazy day. I found at least 6 sound reasons not to go for a run and paced up and down the stairs unable to settle on anything to do. Clean the house? Read? Watch a movie? Sew something? Nothing seemed to hold my attention and then it dawned on me. Could it possibly be that I actually wanted to run? Or even stranger, needed to? As soon as the idea crossed my mind I realized that of course, that was it. I missed the endorphins. Before I could talk myself out of it, I threw on my shoes and running clothes and turned on the podcast. I'm back, feel great and might actually be able to tackle folding laundry after all. And they're saying we won't have any more snow for at least four whole days!...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Courting Three Lovers

Preparing for a triathlon is a lot like juggling multiple lovers. I know this because I've been doing on-line dating off and on for seven years, but that's probably a topic for another blog. Anyway, during the pre-training phase, which apparently I'm in, I should be able to bike, swim and run each for 30 - 45 minutes. That is to say, by the time I reach May 2nd I should have that level of endurance built up to start the training. Swimming is the sport where I haven't quite reached that goal yet.

So the multiple lovers - all the folks I've spoken to and read about who do tris have one sport that is their weaker sport, their "third man". That's the date you always mean to call but you wait and see if a better offer comes in first. Before you judge, check your own history... The temptation, at least for me, is to keep doing the sports I feel confident in because they tell me I'm pretty and make me feel all giggly. Oh wait, that's the dates again.

Seriously, I'm currently most in love with my new bike. I haven't had it out on the road yet, way too cold and icy, but it's in the trainer and I could ride it every day. I love it and sometimes will do a morning and evening ride because it's just sitting there waiting for me. Before I got the bike, and when I first started swimming, the pool was the only place I wanted to be. Oh sure, I'd give old "running" a chance now and then but swimming was my "Saturday Night Date" and I'd find a million reasons not to get on the bike.

Swimming is now getting neglected and its starting to get a little pissy about it. Before "Bike" came into the picture, I was swimming about 1250 yards in a workout. Today, after only 10 minutes and only 300 yards, I was complaining about the cold water, the water in my nose, the boredom of the laps, you name it.

Here's how I juggle things to get the workouts in as a single, working mom during the cold weather:

Monday - run on the treadmill or bike on the trainer. I have both of these at home. I get up at 5:30 and do a half hour or so before it's time to get the Boy up for school. When the weather gets nicer, I will squeeze an outdoor run in instead, I run a 3 mile loop that ends at the afterschool program, which closes at 6:00 so I can pick up the kid and get home to start dinner.

Tuesdays and Thursdays - These are usually bike or treadmill days but one becomes a swim night if I haven't fit two in. If it's a long night and I can't get up in the morning, then I put in the half hour after the Boy is tucked in for bed. He's getting used to falling asleep to whirring and pounding machines.

Wednesdays and Fridays - These are mornings that my son goes to a friend's house in the morning before school. He goes twice a week and then their kid comes to my house once a week so we both get some morning time without kids. These mornings I either have a weight training session at the gym, which is preceeded usually by about a 20 minute ride or run or if the weather is nice I might do a morning run and schedule the session with the trainer for the evening. The gym has a child care center and the Boy loves it because he gets to have some kind of take-out for dinner.

Saturdays - are tricky. When I can arrange morning childcare I go to a morning yoga session. If there's time I'll get a swim in, or a ride or run, depending on which sport hasn't had two dates that week.

Sundays - are the same and often end up being "off" days, unless it's a "Dad" weekend or there's a playdate scheduled that buys me an hour or so to fit in something.

You can see how crazy-making it can be. Every Friday I look at the next week's calendar and based on meetings, events, sitters, etc. I plug in 2 rides, 2 runs, 2 swims and 2 weight sessions. I have gotten religious about it. I have to be or else it won't happen. I suppose some people would plug in the workouts before scheduling all the other things but I am trying to keep a balance between the fitness and all the other things in my life that are important so this way works for me. I'm finding that the weekends are the most challenging though, mostly because there isn't school or daycare to cover. When it gets warmer, we'll hook the tag along to the bike so my son can ride with me and Santa brought a new scooter that I'm hoping will allow him to come along on the runs. I don't go that fast!

I also try and have at least one race on the calendar each month to keep me movitated and pushing myself. Up to now they've all been short running races. After the expo though, I've decided to add a couple duathlons to practice multi-sport events before the tri. Now, I have to fit in a part time job or freelance gig to cover all the costs of my multi-sport "dating"!

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Year of the Triathlon

Well here we are, already a month into 2010 - The Year of the Triathlon. This will be my big goal for the year. Yesterday I went to a triathlon expo for the South Jersey Triathlon club. I'm really big on clubs. I talked to all sorts of athletes, trainers and vendors about my biggest fears, training plans and more.

I can't say enough about how important it is to surround yourself with other active people when you're trying to change your lifestyle. When we were kids, our parents tried to make sure we had good friends and caring adults around so we'd grow into good adults. The same is true for the fitness convert. If you're trying to change your life but all your friends are avid couch potatoes it's going to be very easy to give up first one day's workout, then the next and soon you're right back in front of Maury Povich with a half a pizza and a bag of stale Doritos.

I used to be intimidated to go to active groups. I thought that at my weight and skill level, I wouldn't be welcome. What I've found again and again in the race communities is that I share with the other members a passion for getting active and a desire for others to feel the same satisfaction and joy I've found. People at the expo were encouraging and their enthusiasm was impossible to ignore. And yes, there were people of every age and size there too - all of them radiating energy and excitement. My new people.

I came home from the expo with all sorts of flyers for upcoming events and races. I signed up to volunteer at a few tris to see how it's all done before I get out there. This week I will plot out the next several months to make sure there's at least one race of some kind or another on the calendar each month and to build in my 16 week training schedule for my tri. It really isn't that different from all the goal setting and scheduling I have to do when I'm in school or planning for a big training event for work. You have to make it a priority and I have to make sure I don't give myself any kind of excuse to give up.

Today's inspiration: Stage 4 of the 2004 Tour de France while I chug along on my bike trainer. I'm working my way through the whole race. So far, I've finished with Lance (or before him) on every stage.