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Integrate Training w/ Common Sense

Cold spring rain is slapping at the windowsill by my desk while I jot down my workout thoughts. Today I woke up feeling tired, the weather was not welcoming, and I considered taking the day off. Of course, a corresponding thought plows its way through, “I am a wimp. I shouldn’t feel tired. I used to blast thru all sluggish feelings! I could run a ½ marathon while swimming and biking the next day, in addition to a full day’s work and taking care of my rambunctious young children.”

But after returning home from Gear West last night at 8:30 pm (after sneaking in a little run with the trail run gang from 6-7pm) and after three days of focused workouts, I fell asleep on the couch while still wearing my damp running clothes. “Today, “I said, it’s time to do only yoga before work. And then maybe learn how to use my powermeter with my Garmin”

Training for an ironman can put a competitive person in a vise grip of workout pressure. If there is anything I know after immersed in ‘sport’, personally and career-wise for 36 years, moderation and balance are KEY to maintaining cheerfulness, health and lasting positive performance. I better not fall prey to holding David Goggins and his book “Can’t hurt me” as an example of healthy life balance. The personal accountability his book preaches is right on target when goal setting, but at my age, knowing when to back off is also as important as completing all scheduled workouts.

Which inner voice is speaking, you ask, the lazy one or the smart one? How do I know what voice to listen when considering a day off? The lazy voice whispers often, “Not now lady, more fun things could be happening, like eating, reading or hanging with friends”. The serious voice is louder because its message is spoken through your heart rate, your mental enthusiasm, muscle soreness and more. When you are drop dead tired due to too many workouts, or not enough recovery between workouts or super stressed with other life challenges, then rest is super important. Or when you attempt to work out and your heart rate zooms too high with a minor increase in speed or resistance, or if you can’t get your heart rate to budge no matter how fast you go, then REST. A friend of mine mentions his 15 minute rule, “if you still feel icky in your workout after 15 minutes, then it is wise to cut it short.”

There is AGE, of course too. Although becoming older is a constant in life, and my military son preaches, “Growing old is a privilege denied to many”, the physical changes happening to me are so fascinating. Mental will does not overcome stiff muscle fiber or tender joints. Our goal should be to welcome age gracefully. We need to improve compassion toward our bodies; gently urging our limbs and heart to perform and then taking good care afterwards. Sleep is ever so critical, and so is a healthy diet. Perhaps all these details were always important when younger, but so much could be overcome with youthful energy and discipline.

I look at aging and fitness and what works and what needs to be changed, with curiosity and as a challenge. I always feel fortunate to value the gift of health as much as I do, because then I remain motivated to workout. Feeling flexible and fit is worth some of the sacrifices if we don’t become too weird or extreme. But of course, I add goals of which is now another IRONMAN; then I think I can justify this summer’s obsession by writing a blog about remaining balanced and refitting my bike to adjust to a less bendable body. Hopefully I am not too weird. Time to clean my office because it’s still raining.

- Jan Guenther

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