Did it Work? – My Half-Ironman on Keto

It had been nearly two weeks since my race. Plenty of time to think of what went well and what didn’t. What I would change, and what I would do the same.

I wanted to do this race on my terms, my way. It was a bit of an experiment on myself in a way. I wanted to do the race entirely Keto… no carbs or sugars whatsoever. My training had gone well staying fat adapted, so why wouldn’t my race?

So the big question is…. Did it work?

Well…

I hate to admit it, but no… I don’t think it did. I felt just as crappy during the run as I did last year, but I had far more sugar/carbs last year. So I can’t base my run on lack of carbs, but I think the bike really suffered.

As I mentioned in my last post, I wasn’t too far into my bike before noticing my muscles just were not responding as well as they have in training. They were tired and achy and didn’t want to push up the hills.

A friend who was also doing Keto started introducing carbs back into his diet in the weeks leading up to the race and he had a fantastic race! So I reached out to Danny Vega from Ketogenic Athlete, a podcast that we listen to regularly.

I explained the whole scenario, and he agreed I should have introduced carbs back into my diet in the week leading up to the race and then took in however many carbs I wanted to on race day.

The reason is, because I am fat adapted and my body uses fat efficiently, I could also have benefited from the quick carbs since I would be using both fuels… fat and carbs.

For races under 2 hours long I should not need carbs.

But I am stubborn and have to learn by doing most often. So now I know that the next half Ironman I do will be utilizing carbs as well 😉

Am I Sticking With Keto?

Absolutely!! I don’t believe there is only one way to eat to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but this has been the only way of eating that has me feeling my absolute best.

The Ketogenic Diet was first developed in the 1920s as a way to treat drug resistant epilepsy. In the 1970s, Dr. Atkins introduced this way of eating for weight control.

Today, we know there are more health benefits to following the Ketogenic Diet.

-Recent studies show that ketones in the body can improve cognitive ability in people with Alzheimers. Studies are also being done to see the effects that ketones have on Parkinsons, MS, and other neurological disorders.

-People with severe migraines (not related to tension type headaches) have found relief on the Ketogenic Diet without the side effects of a lot of the pharmaceutical options.

-For people without major health issues, the Ketogenic Diet can help:

  • lose weight
  • improve memory
  • lower blood pressure
  • eliminate cravings

Many people claim that the Ketogenic Diet is impossible to stick to long term. That it is way too restrictive. This may be true for some people, but I have been eating this way for 6 months and I have no problems with it.

Maybe not having as many options in the food I eat makes it easier. I did best in my exercise regime when I had it planned for me by a professional that told me exactly what to do every day.

But what I love most is that I do not crave bread, or sugar, or chips, etc. I do not feel like I am “white knuckling” it, just hanging on until I can eat crap again.

I feel FANTASTIC! I have even energy throughout the day.

With the exception of hormonal zits once a month, my face has cleared up.

So What I am Saying Is…

If you have tried so many diets and nothing has worked for you, give this a try! You don’t know until you try, and give it an honest months effort. Then you will know!

There are a lot of people out there who are still pro-low fat eating. But obesity, cancer, heart disease…. none of these things have decreased since the introduction of the low-fat era!

FAT DOES NOT MAKE YOU FAT!

 

Educate yourself. Do your research. Look up studies. Get blood work done before you start and a few months in if that makes you comfortable. Buy books.

I have 3 or 4 Keto Diet books. They give good explanations on why this diet works for many people, but also have many delicious recipes!!

My latest is a buy from Costco, by Leanne Vogel (a Calgarian), called The Keto Diet. She lays it out plainly, and has some fantastic recipes! *To all the Trim Healthy Mamas out there, I found some of her recipes very similar to some THM “S” recipes, with some tweaks “Iced Tea Lemonade Gummies”, “Toasted Coconut Marshmallows”. Eating mostly “S” recipes is very similar to eating the ketogenic way.

So, What’s Next?

Well, in a week and a half I will be doing the half-marathon at the Willow Creek Wilderness Walk/Run in Fort Macleod. That should be interesting given my serious lack of run training.

But I am looking forward to doing a lower key, fun, local event!

Then:

June 9 – Ladiesfest with Kiera (8 km)

June 16 – 83 km bike “Hope with every Pedal” for A-T

 

 

 

 

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So close….

As I write this, I have 9 full days before race day… it is getting so close! The weird thing is I am more nervous about it than I was last year, and I am better trained and weigh less!

Last year I just wanted to finish. I just wanted to survive.

And the goal still remains to finish the race. There are a lot of things that can happen during a race to prevent a person from finishing…

-panic attack in the water

-getting punched in the face in the water by another swimmer (accidentally of course;)

-really adverse weather

-a bike malfunction that is not repairable roadside

-crashing on the bike

-severe muscle cramps

-heat exhaustion

You get the idea. Sometimes there are things outside of a racers control that prevents them from finishing the race.

So the first goal is definitely to be able to finish the race.

But having trained more consistently and weighing 25 lbs less than when I did St. George last year, I have higher expectations for myself.

This is my results from last year:

Swim – 59:17

Swim to Bike Transition – 6:14

Bike – 3:42:33

Bike to Run Transition – 6:57

Run – 3:07:36

Total Time – 8:02:37

 

I Can Do Better

I believe I can do the swim in about 55 minutes or less. I have not done as much swim training as I had hoped to, but what I have done, has gone well. The biggest thing will be to stay calm in the water and keep moving forward instead of doggy paddling.

Actually my real plan is to get in the water at the same time as Al, and have him “pull” me… he usually finishes in a respectable time so should work out good for me ;D… LOL!

I don’t know if I can improve too much on the swim to bike transition time. The wet suit strippers help get the wet suit off, but then I have to run over to my bike, (a little wobbly from being horizontal for an hour), change my shirt (I like to wear a bike jersey on the bike… just feels more comfortable), make sure I have my water bottles secure, put my helmet on, bike shoes on, and then take my bike off the rack and run to where I am allowed to get on my bike.

Oh yea, and make sure my wet suit, goggles, swim cap, ear plugs, etc, are all put into a bag with my race number on it so volunteers can bring it to the finish area.

Bike

I want to take 22 minutes off the bike and finish in 3:20:00. Even though I have not done any outdoor bike rides this year yet, I have worked hard on the trainer.

I LOVE biking. But last year I had to push my bike up part of Snow Canyon. I was not trained well enough, and didn’t have a granny gear. I still don’t have a granny gear, but I think I am better equipped to make it up there this year!

(Snow Canyon is the picture at the top of my web page. I keep it there not only because it is incredibly beautiful there, but also as a reminder of what I am working towards!)

Then after being grumpy about the walk of shame pushing my bike up a hill, the fast downhill into town was not fast at all. The wind was very strong and was almost pushing me over on the bike, so that I had to pedal going downhill!!

So if conditions are better this year, I don’t think its unreasonable for me to be able to finish in 3:20.

I think I can drop the bike to run transition down to 5 minutes. After putting my bike on the rack and making sure my helmet and bike shoes are in the appropriate bag, I change out of my jersey into a technical t-shirt. Again, this takes extra time, but I like a fresh shirt to start the run to prevent chafing.

Then I put my socks on and my runners, put my visor on and grab my race belt, if I am using it. Still undecided, but I am thinking I can put a salt stick in there in case I get cramps, Advil in case I am really sore, and maybe little baggies of coconut oil in case I feel I need some quick energy from fat.

Run

The hardest part is running off the bike. It feels unnatural and weird in the legs to run after pedaling for 3+ hours. So my first goal for the run is to run the first mile without walking at all. (Lofty goals, I know… ;D)

Right now the forecast for race day is a high of 32 degrees Celsius. I am hoping I can finish before it gets that hot, but it is indescribable how hot it actually gets up on the red rocks. There is usually not a breath of wind out there, and we run on a road that is surrounded by high red rocks. It feels like a sauna!!

That being said, my first priority is to stay safe, and not over heat. So even though I want to run a lot more than I did last year, I won’t risk heat exhaustion to do it.

I will walk if necessary but I want to complete the run in well under 3 hours… preferably 2:45. But considering my lack of run training this is pretty lofty for me.

All these goals puts me around 7:20:00 finish time. I would be OK with that!!

But whatever happens on race day will happen. I just hope I enjoy the day and finish with a smile!!

I will leave you with this video to see what is so great about St. George, Utah!

 

 

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What Are Your Health And Fitness Goals? I Have Suggestions!

I talk a lot about myself on here. I have many fitness and health goals, but I want to know… What are your health and fitness goals? Do you have specific goals? Are you waiting to shed some pounds before going to the gym or signing up for a race?

I am here to say, don’t wait! So often, especially as women, we wait for the day we will feel comfortable enough in our own skin to get out there and try new things.

The problem is… that day doesn’t always come! The weight might not come off soon. Circumstances in your life may come and take opportunities away.

It can be so liberating to get out of our comfort zones!! It is scary, it can be uncomfortable, it can cause a whole range of feelings that you are not used to. But in the end, it is likely to be exhilarating!!

The first race I ever signed up for was the Moonlight run in Lethbridge many years ago. I did the 6km, and I did not think I ran very well. Looking back it was my fastest 6km Moonlight run to date!! 😉

I don’t remember doing very much after that until John got into triathlon and running. I was whining one day about him always going out running with other people, and his response was, “Come along!”

I didn’t want to embarrass myself and I was overweight… What would these people think of me? I was sure I would feel like people were laughing inside because here was this fat chick pretending to run.

One thing a person learns very fast in the southern Alberta running community… EVERYONE is welcome!! In fact, people are so friendly and excited when a person begins their running journey. Seasoned Runners love to give tips on what to do and what not to do when you first start running!

I took a Learn to Run class at Runners Soul and that was probably the best thing I did. It made me feel successful and it made me feel like I was part of the running community!

I started signing up for more races and started feeling more confident in my abilities. And if I ever had questions, John or someone else would have answers for me!

The thing about races is that they are FUN! You can make it as competitive and/or as fun as you want to make it! It is so much fun signing up with friends, though have a plan on whether you will be doing the race side by side, or simply both running/walking the same race… this can prevent some hurt feelings!

Local Races

Some people may not be aware of local races in the area so I thought I would highlight a few that I have done. These are Saturday races except for the Little Souls Marathon, which is on a Wednesday evening.

1. Willow Creek Wilderness Walk and Run – May 26, 2018

It has been a few years since I have done this one, because there is a womens run in Canmore the same weekend that I have been doing for many years. But I decided it was time to stay local this year and do the half-marathon right here in Fort Macleod!!

This is a fun, relaxed race, with some people enjoying the competitive aspect of it, and others simply out for the enjoyment of being part of something organized that raises money for local benefit!

Willow Creek Wilderness walk/run is such a great race for people who have never participated in a race and want to test the waters on what it is like, and for people who like running trails and some gravel.

And the volunteers are fantastic!

 

2. A-T Walk For A Cure & Bike Ride – June 16, 2018

This fundraiser in honor of Randy Van Hierden and Alex Olive, is a fun family oriented event. There is a 5 km walk, or a choice between a 50km or 80km bike ride.

I used to participate in the walk with my kids, but in the past years have joined the bike ride as I love to bike!! But my kids really want to do the walk again, so I think this year we will try to do both….

This is always a fun time for entire families. There is a silent auction, pony rides, childrens play area, petting zoo, face painting, coffee and donuts and a buffet lunch!

To learn more about what A-T is and the research that is being done, check out www.atcp.org.

 

 

3. Ladiesfest 8km – June 9, 2018

Ladiesfest is a great, women only, race in Lethbridge. This is a fantastic race to sign up for with you mom, daughter, sisters or friends… especially for a first race!

This is an event to promote women’s health, fitness and well-being in the community.

This race starts and ends by the Lodge, but runs through the river valley… so yes, a big downhill in the beginning and a rather good climb to the finish, but it is so worth it! When you cross the finish line you will receive a flower and chocolate, and then can head inside for a delicious brunch.

Kiera and I have been doing this one together for a few years now, and always look forward to it!

It may already be sold out, but keep an eye online, as people will sell their bibs if their plans change before race day.

 

 

4. Coulee Cactus Crawl – June 2, 2018

If you ever wonder if you would enjoy trail running, this is the race for you to test the waters… along with 4 of your closest friends 😉

This is a 20 ish mile trail run through the coulees of Lethbridge. It can be done solo or on a team of up to 5 people, but if you have never run the coulees, I highly suggest doing it on a team!

Each leg of the race is anywhere from 5-7km and are all challenging! I love trail running, even though I have never been really great at it, I still enjoy it. I just make sure that I am on a team that is not concerned so much with the teams time, but more concerned about making it to the beer and tacos waiting at the finish line!!

 

 

5. Little Souls Kids Marathon – May 30, 2018

 

If your kids are under the age of 12, and you would like to introduce them to running, the Little Souls Kids Marathon is a great way to do that!

The kids will run 40 km over 4-6 weeks and then run the last 2 km with all the other participants.

A suggested timeline with distances to run each week can be downloaded from runnersoulevents.com. This can be such a great way to teach kids to break down big goals into bite size pieces and therefore accomplish great things!

 

If you are interested in running events in Lethbridge, just check out the Runners Soul Events page for a brief description and registration details!

 

Back to Talking About Myself…

Well, another uneventful week, especially since I already posted about the first three days last week!

I didn’t try running again after Wednesday, but I have an appointment with a physiotherapist this Wednesday to hopefully figure out whatever my problem is, and hopefully fix it!!

I am not expecting great things for the run on race day, but it would be rather awful to not be able to finish the race because of wierd ankle issues!

I did a Ramp test on the bike this morning, which is another way to measure FTP. Trainer Road will send me the result of that hopefully tomorrow or the next day. I have done the 20-minute FTP test a few times, but I just am not confident that it is totally accurate for me, as my target power for rides seems a little too easy!

I was down 1.5 lbs on the scale this week, so am currently 154. I feel good and will need new clothes soon! Though I am impressed that my clothes are versatile enough to have endured a difference of 22lbs… lol!!

Anyways, I hope to see many of you out at some local races coming up!

One of these days we should be able to safely run outside…. right?

 

 

 

 

 

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The Health Benefits of Massage Therapy – And Reached 20 lb Weight Loss!!

Usually I can get a post written at least by Tuesday night… but this week has gotten away from me!! As busy as it has been, I managed to get in for a massage today, and it was absolutely fantastic!!

I do not go for massages often, but now that my training has increased, my body is feeling it. There are so many benefits of massage therapy – its not just for relieving aches and pains, though it is great for that.

Anyways, last week I had so much tension in my neck and shoulders, I decided it was high time for a massage and booked an appointment with Anna at Lethbridge Thai Massage.

Anna does an awesome deep tissue massage that also includes some elements of traditional Thai massage. From what I understand, Thai massages are generally done on a mat on the floor, and includes kneading and positioning to work with the “energy flow”.

Well the deep tissue massage is on a regular massage table, but for some of it, she gets on the table to do different stretches and even gets her knees into my tight hamstrings…. it is seriously fantastic!!

And like this picture, she also does the hands, which feels surprisingly good! I never thought of tension in my hands, but I definitely felt tightness in there while she was massaging it.

I have only ever had Anna as my massage therapist at Lethbridge Thai Massage so I recommend her, but there are two other therapists there as well and they have a long list of services they provide. It is a little pricier than some other places, but worth the treat once in a while.

On their website and on the door when you walk in are the words “100% non-sexual”….

Now, before going to this place, I have never gone to a Thai massage place. But now I am pretty sure I will never go to a Thai massage place that does not have this explicitly written….

…. Because apparently it is necessary to make that clear!

 

Is It Worth It?

If you do not regularly go for massages, there are so many reasons to make it a regular occurrence in your life.

1. Massages can help improve your immune system. Having a massage stimulates the lymphatic system, which is the system that helps your body get rid of waste and toxins.

2. Massages can lower high blood pressure – at least for a little while.

3. When you have a massage, endorphins (those feel good things) are released. According to livestrong.com, this can “help to decrease anxiety, provide pain relief, improve mood and enhance a person’s state of well-being”.

4. Having a massage can help you sleep better!!

And if you are an athlete, a deep tissue or sports massage can help release muscles that are protesting the amount of training you might be doing, and can prevent injury or treat an injury you may already have.

Deep tissue massage can also relieve delayed onset muscle soreness…

So I have booked two more massages before I go to St. George, and one for the week after I get back from the race! Though the one after the race won’t be in the 24-72 hour window that I will be the most sore, it is still bound to help me!

 

 

Weight Loss

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, in the weight loss world, I am a turtle loser….S-L-O-W. But I am also proof that if you just keep plugging away at it, the weight does eventually come off!! When I stepped on the scale Monday morning, I was 155.5, which is 20.5 lbs lost since November.

Most of my adult life I have been around this weight. The only time I weighed less was before I had my gallbladder removed in my mid 20s….and that was because most things I ate besides dry crackers would make me violently throw up!!

So I am at a pretty exciting point where the scale is concerned! I continue to not enjoy weighing myself, but I am internalizing more and more that it is simply one tool I can use to measure my progress.

My next milestone will be getting to the 140’s. At the rate I am going, it will be another month or so before I get there….but that is OK!

Last Week

Last week was pretty uneventful. I had a swim and a couple of bikes and didn’t run once. I ran today and after 9 minutes on the treadmill, my irritating ankle/calf issue showed up. I couldn’t run anymore, so thought I would get on the stair climber.

It felt great and was a good workout, until 15 minutes into that, same issue started.

I need to book a physio appointment, because if this shows up during the race, there is the danger of not finishing because I have a hard time putting any weight on it!

Anna massage my lower legs really well, but I could still faintly feel it walking around after that, so it is obviously something I need to get looked at.

I did paint all day Saturday so I figured that was a good enough arm workout 😉

I haven’t made any early morning gym trips. I don’t know why it is so hard for me to go before work. I know if I got all lunches made the night before and had my stuff ready to go, I could easily go run for half hour, come home shower and be at work on time.

But I just don’t want to.

I like to drink my coffee, read, and enjoy the only half hour to an hour of quiet in my day. I hate to give that up, but I should be now, if only a couple times per week!

Oh Yea…

 

I had a glass of wine and 2-3 squares of 90% Lindt Chocolate every night last week… and still lost weight. So I will probably not give those things up any time soon!

 

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Moonlight Run Recap… and the Rest of My Week!

I followed through with my plan… and ran the Moonlight Run! To be completely honest, in the days leading up to the run, I hoped there was going to be bad weather so I would have a decent excuse not to run. I was just getting really nervous! It had been so long since I did an actual race on my own, and one that I knew I wanted to do my best to see what time I could get.

But I haven’t done a lot of run training in the last month or two. It has been sporadic at best, and I had not run at all since the outdoor “run” that I ended up limping home from a few weeks ago.

So I didn’t know what to expect…

Race Day

Saturday morning I was busy doing all the regular Saturday morning stuff… laundry, dishes, more laundry, etc.

I suddenly remembered I would need to pick up my race package in Lethbridge. I didn’t know if I could pick it up right before the race, so thought I better pick it up earlier.

So I made plans to go into Lethbridge just after lunch to do that. But, as often happens in this house, plans quickly change.

John and Kiera have been looking for a vehicle for her that fit her budget for a while now. She turns 16 in a few months, and wanted a vehicle before that so she could practice driving in her own vehicle.

Well, they found a deal on something she wanted…. in Medicine Hat.

So with some quick time calculations, we figured we could pick up the race package, sign up Kiera and her friend last minute for the Moonlight Run, do a “quick” drive to Medicine Hat to buy the vehicle, and be home in time to change and drive back to Lethbridge for the race….

Well, we did manage to get all that done Saturday afternoon, and the good part was I was too busy to be nervous! We got back home at 6:30, and left for the race at 7:00. The race started at 8, so I got there in plenty of time 😉

On the way to Lethbridge, I watched a You Tube video on how to tape my ankle with KT Tape, just for a little extra support. I also wore compression calf sleeves, hoping all this would help me not have any issues!

The 10 KM

As always, right before the run started, my stomach was in a bundle of knots.

I started thinking about what I had eaten during the day. I actually don’t remember what I ate, besides a dry Greek Salad from McDonalds (didn’t check the bag before leaving McDonalds….no fork and no dressing), and 3 creams in my Tim Hortons coffee.

I know I ate something in the morning, I just don’t remember what.

Was it enough?

When the horn sounded to start, I just tried to relax and settle in to an easy pace. I seen John on the sidelines, trying to find me, but he didn’t see me…. there were a lot of people there!! He took this picture without actually seeing me 😉 It’s pretty fuzzy….

There is a flat, or slightly downhill, 3-4 blocks before going down the big hill into the river valley.

I love running downhill. Years ago, while running coulees with a friend, she taught me that downhill running is just controlled falling….

If you try to slow yourself down, you are constantly braking, and that puts a lot of pressure on your quads, which makes them tired for the rest of the race.

So downhill is fun for me and pretty quick. But when it flattens out at the bottom, that’s when the real test starts.

Due to our lovely weather lately with the snow and melt, there were a lot of puddles on the route. In the beginning, I tried avoiding them, but eventually gave in and just splashed through them.

I reminded myself that if this were a trail race, I wouldn’t think twice about running through puddles or streams….

I felt great at the first out and back, but started second guessing myself at the turn off where the 10km runners broke off from the 6 km runners.

Questions started going through my head…. should I back off? I felt great, but I was only a third through my race. I almost was waiting for things to start falling apart.

But I decided while I felt good, to keep running at a good pace for me. If I ended up not doing well later on, I would deal with that then, but was not going to borrow trouble.

I focused on trying to find people I knew. Most people running the race are way faster than I am, so since we were on another out and back, I was looking at the people running towards me. (Keep in mind it is dark out, so even with a headlamp, this is not an easy task!!)

I did see about 3 people I knew, but most of all it kept my mind off of what I was doing…. which was running…LOL!!

I continued feeling great, and remembered to keep my posture good, and to “drive” with my knees. This makes me land lighter and more on the balls of my feet rather than my feet slapping down or heel striking.

When I got to the hill, my strategy was to walk one light pole and run one light pole all the way up the hill. I think the hill is about 1.5 – 2km long…. but not 100% sure on that. It feels like a long way!! I stuck to my plan and it worked, though looking back I think I could have managed to run 2 light poles for every one I walked!

At the top of the hill there is probably about 4 city blocks to the finish line. I usually have a mental block near the finish line and just start walking. I am not sure why, but this is something I struggle with. Most people pick up their pace at this point, but not me!! I always have to be a little different…;)

But I happened to see “short Sherry” in front of me. I remember her from my trail running days. She is about 5 feet tall, over 60 years old, and my goal at the top of the hill was to try to keep up with her until the finish line…. just sayin’.

She pulled ahead of me, but I managed to stay within 15-20 feet of her and ran all the way to the line!!

The Finish

I finished the race with jello legs, but feeling absolutely fantastic. I have not felt this sense of satisfaction over a race since my first half-marathon, which was many years ago.

I ran a good race and was incredibly happy about it!! My clock time was 1:02, which is just under a 10 minute mile. While this is slower than most peoples warm up pace, this is a great time for me. I would like to get under an hour for 10 km, but for now, I am happy 😀

We didn’t stick around for the free pizza and donuts, because we don’t eat that anyways ;).

The Monday Morning Weigh In

I was up half a pound this morning, 157.5, which I was not surprised at. Last week I just wanted to eat all the time. I wasn’t hungry but just wanted food.

I kept it to keto food, but I am sure overdid it calorie wise.

But it also enlightened me a little. I have a thing for Coke Zero. I know it is garbage, but sometimes when it is on sale I buy myself a case for a treat.

Last week I think I had 2 Coke Zeros every day.

The experts say that while diet sodas are calorie free, the aspartame tricks your body into thinking it is getting sweets, and therefore makes you crave more, or want to eat more. I really believe this is true now!

The fact that aspartame is linked to alzheimer’s should be enough to keep me away from it.

This Week

Right now I am walking around as if I am on wooden legs… I am SO SORE!! Lol… I need a good bike ride to get rid of this DOMS! (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).

Going downstairs this morning to do laundry was an interesting excursion. In involved one stair at a time, going sideways, holding onto the railing…

The plan today is to bike this morning and swim tonight. Though snow is our reality again today, I need to not be a sissy and start driving in it. Less than 7 weeks until race day and I need to be swimming often!!

I plan to bike again tomorrow and since I am working Wednesday and Thursday, I plan to run at the gym before work on both days. Its crunch time!

Hot yoga and/or bike Friday, and run Saturday….maybe even with the group!! I really miss running with people.

Have a great week everyone!!

 

 

 

 

 

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Living Minimalist Lifestyle – Possible for Triathletes?

Hey, hope you all had a great Family Day yesterday!! I did almost everything I planned to do so I am happy with that. I biked, got my counters clean (which lasted about 10 full minutes), made a Keto friendly lime cheesecake (without the crust because I was short on time…but it was delicious!), and went swimming with the kids.

We lasted about 40 minutes swimming at the pool before we bailed…

…it was very, very peoply in there!

Anyways, I will let you in on my past week before I tell you what brought me to wanting to write about living a minimalist lifestyle (I don’t right now).

A Write Off

Last week was a complete and total write off. I did nothing.

I worked Monday, and though it’s always hard to get a workout in on days I work, I can usually make it to the gym to do some kind of workout.

Tuesday I was beyond exhausted. Don’t have a clue why, but I was tired enough to have a nap in the afternoon, and simply couldn’t find the energy to workout. I haven’t felt like that since before I started Keto.

I have been letting my eating habits slip here and there, so maybe that is why!

Wednesday was the start of the snowstorm….shoulda warmed up on the bike….but I didn’t. No reason why not, just didn’t.

Thursday I worked, and due to the really bad roads, we were short-staffed, so I didn’t get to the gym.

Friday I had a work course in the morning and the older kids had exams in Lethbridge in the afternoon.

Saturday is best described as LAZY. We watched Netflix, and would go out every so often to shovel the sidewalks.

Netflix

We like to watch documentary style movies or travel videos on Netflix. Our favourite is Departures, which I think we have seen every episode of all three seasons!

Anyways, we watched a show on living a minimalist lifestyle. As we watched, I looked around my cluttered, messy house, (which I should have been cleaning instead of watching Netflix), at all the stuff we really don’t need.

I think there are extremes people take to live minimalist, but I know we could definitely do with a lot less “stuff”.

But yesterday morning, while I was on the bike looking around at my basement, which is also cluttered, it got me thinking…

Is it Possible for a Triathlete to Live a Minimalist Lifestyle?

When you are doing triathlons, there is definitely some gear you can’t get by without. Especially when you are doing longer distance.

I’ll start with the swim. A cold, open water swim requires a good wet suit. One you can move in and that fits well. But wet suits tend to chafe at the back of the neck while you are swimming, so you need some Bodyglide.

You also need a good set of goggles…maybe two. One that is clear for while you are practicing in the pool, and a tinted one in case you are swimming in sunny conditions on race day.  John and I both like the Aqua Sphere swim masks as they are much more comfortable!

Another good thing to have is Ear Plugs. I have swum without these, but I get vertigo when coming out of the water, whereas if I have ear plugs in, it is not as bad.

In the rules of most races, it states that public nudity is not allowed. So a Tri Suit, or SOMETHING to wear under your wet suit that doesn’t bunch up, is a MUST! Lol, the people pulling off wet suits as you exit the water will thank you for that.

Which brings me to the bike.

Well, you need a bike. That’s a given.

If you live in Canada, you need a bike trainer. I use CYCLEOPS Fluid 2 Indoor trainer…good trainer for a decent price.

And probably a block for your front wheel to level the bike….though we have used books in the past. They aren’t as stable.

Most likely you will have Cycling Shoes, bike shoes that clip into the pedals. This isn’t necessary as you could have regular pedals and wear the same runners as you will be running in, but it is easier to go faster when you can pull up and push the pedals as you can with the pedals and shoes that “clip” on.

And then there are spare tubes, pump or C02 cartridges, tires, water bottles, gels or bars, helmet, sunglasses (My favourite are Rudy Project), sunscreen (though some races provide this).

And then there is the run. You need runners, obviously. (I run in Altra ….why? That will be another post 😉 Also, I put a link in so you could see what they look like, but the sizing can feel a little different, so if you are interested in them, go to Runners Sould and try some on!)

And socks…if you wear them.

A hat or visor to keep the sun off your face.

If you want to know your pace or how long you have been racing, you will want a Garmin or other sport watch.

I use an older Garmin 910 and have the attachments so I can have it clipped to my bike, but when I start my run, I can take it off my bike and attach it to the wristband.

Now, there are newer, nicer looking Garmin Forerunner , so check them out!

A Running Belt that holds water bottle and food type stuff for the run. Though in Ironman racing there is usually an aid station every mile….so if you are comfortable with what they are serving, you may not need to carry anything. Just check ahead of time to make sure your stomach can handle the options they have!

That’s for the race, but also there are things you need to have handy for while training!

Such as tools to change your chain rings if you need to.

Chain cleaner stuff. Chain oil for once its clean. Alan keys for making adjustments to handlebars or saddle.

I personally don’t use a lot of the maintenance items, as John does all the maintenance on my bike. And you could bring your bike in to a reputable bike shop to get serviced. But if you can do it yourself its cheaper.

So…

It really depends on what your version of minimalism would look like. Most of these things I mentioned for triathlon are necessary.

Minimalism is having only the things you deem necessary.

So I think you can be a triathlete and a minimalist! Just don’t buy all the extras that you don’t need!

This Week

The past week I have also let my eating habits deteriorate. I didn’t go crazy, but I was eating popcorn, blue corn chips and had some french bread with a couple of my meals.

This isn’t necessarily detrimental, but it would be enough to kick me out of fat burning and back to using carbs or sugar for energy.

I didn’t weigh myself yesterday, and won’t at all this week, because it would be pointless. While following the Keto lifestyle, you will retain water when you re-introduce carbs. Which means weight gain on the scale. And even though I know its just water, I don’t want to see it.

I had a good bike ride yesterday, and will be getting to the gym to run as soon as I am done writing this.

Back on Track!!

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Why Do I Do It?

A common question that anyone who does something that many other people don’t do is, “Why do you…?”

Those of us in our small town who participate in longer distance triathlons, often get asked….”Why?” And last year after a grumpy race at Ironman 70.3 St George, I asked myself, “Why do I do it?”

The short answer is “Because I can.”

I work with people who have physical and/or mental disabilities, and with older people who are having a hard time moving around due to various issues.

I know people with Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy (click the link to check out Becca Neels’ blog), severe arthritis, Ataxia-Telangiectasia (A-T), cancer, and other barriers….

Who cannot run.

Who cannot bike.

Who would probably give anything to be able to exercise freely.

Instead, they battle every day to perform daily tasks that the rest of us do without having to think about it.

If we have a healthy body that is not limited by physical ailments, THIS IS A PRIVILEDGE!

This is a privilege that we should not take for granted. It is a gift.

There have been many times in my life when I was just simply too lazy to exercise. I can go months without doing a single thing that is strenuous. And there really are times in every ones lives where family and work must come first, and there are simply not enough hours in the day.

John and I have four children, and we home school them. I work part-time which can easily turn in to full time hours if I don’t say no to shifts. My kids are involved in sports and other activities. I am training for a triathlon.

Our life gets a little crazy at times. We have become negligent in visiting parents, grandparents, good friends…

Every once in a while I need to take a step back and get my priorities straight. But exercise is a priority. And not just because I am training for a triathlon.

Mentally, it is a fantastic mood lifter, anti-depressant, and problem solver. There have been many times in the last 10 or so years of our marriage that John has told me to go for a run. I am almost always resistant and grumpy at him because I really don’t like to be told what to do….

But I know that he is always right ;D

He knows me and knows that my mood can do a complete turn around just by getting outside and clearing my head while running or walking.

Anyways,

that was a little off topic, but I really want to drive home the point that when we are given a body that has the ability to move with no restrictions, we need to take this gift and use it.

Exercise.

Just because you can.

And because your mind will be happier.

And because you will be able to move through daily life with ease.

And because it is a great way to spend time with your kids, spouse, friends.

Don’t waste this gift! You do not need to train for triathlons, or marathons, or cross-fit game, or anything big at all. Go for a walk. Go for a bike ride. Go snow-shoeing or cross-country skiing. Take every opportunity to refresh your mind and body through physical activity.

Because someone near you is wishing they could.

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Triathlon Swim Training – My Nemesis

I hate swimming. At least I tell myself that often simply because I am not good at it. I have a very real fear of drowning and have actually had nightmares about drowning. So I always dread getting in the pool that first time when triathlon swim training begins.

Last week Monday Logan and I were ready to go bright and early to the pool. The plan was to be at the pool at 6 am when it opened, but we ended up not getting there until 6:45 because my youngest woke up with a fever and that needed to be looked after first.

It actually worked in our favour though, because most of the early birds were getting out of the pool when we were getting in, so we had lots of room! We did an easy 800m and it actually felt really good!

My breathing was good and I could swim continuously without getting very short on breath. Last year when I started swimming I could do 50m max before stopping for a break… I was constantly gasping for breath!

That was the only swim I got in last week.

Today at lunch, Logan and I went for a swim again and did 1000m. We did a combination of swim, pull, kick, and threw in a few 25 m sprints in there too. Again, I felt great! There is hope for me yet! 😉

Strategies for Open Water Swim

Knowing I have an issue with open water swimming, I have been looking up strategies on the best way to prepare myself.

The issues most people have with open water swimming is all or a combination of these:

  • cloudy or murky water where you can’t see anything
  • cold water (this literally can take your breath away before you even start swimming!)
  • Feeling claustrophobic from the wet suit or from so many swimmers being close to you
  • Fear of becoming disorientated
  • plants or fish that may brush against you

Paul Newsome in an article at www.220triathlon.com suggests slowly exposing yourself to these triggers in a controlled environment. Doing these swims in a local lake with friends as the other swimmers can do a lot to help you practice calming techniques for the real race day!

The things that bother me the most are the murky water, cold water, and the wet suit.

1. The cold water is actually the least of my worries, because even though it can take your breath away when you first get in, once you have a little water in your wet suit, your body warms it up nicely.

But it’s the pace that gets to me…once the group you are in is allowed to get in the water, you have to swim out to the start line, and this makes you have to quickly adapt to the cold water and do a quick swim even before the gun goes off!.

And last year I wasn’t even near the starting bouy before the gun went off…lol! I guess that’s another goal for 2018….get to the starting bouy before the gun goes off for my age group…:D

2. The murky water is my second least favourite thing. When the water is dark or murky, and all I see is swirling floaties in front of my face, and that makes me want to get my face out of the water right away!! I have tried closing my eyes, but that is even more scary.

3. But the worst thing for me is the wet suit. I have a decent wet suit that has a lot of flex through the shoulders and chest, so I should not feel constricted. But I hate things near my neck, and the wet suit comes near around my neck…if it didn’t it would let in too much water and cause drag.

I was also near the top of the weight range for my particular wet suit when I wore it, so hopefully this year I will be a little less and maybe that will help!

The best way to prepare for any of these things is to try get into any lake in the area in April…BRRRR! Also, in a month or so I will get John to go swimming with me once in while to splash and be a nuisance to simulate hundred of swimmers around me.

He offered several times to do that last year, but I would just get mad at him if he did that, so I declined. This year I will try not to be too much of a princess and allow him to splash and push me around in the water :O

Last Weeks Workouts

Last week I did 3 bikes, 2 runs, 1 swim and 1 weight workout. All the workouts went really well, but Fridays bike ride was tough. It was 2x 20 minute efforts at threshold power, and I did not have enough food in me before doing them. I have not had any issues with being hungry during workouts, but when I was done that bike ride, I headed straight to the fridge!!

My runs were OK, but I am going to make more of an effort to run with people this week. Miles fly by when running with friends, but drag by when I run alone!

The plan for this coming up week as far as work outs is pretty much the same as last week. Next week I am going to look for a different weight workout as I am getting bored with the one I have. Good to switch it up once in a while 🙂

 

The Food

The eating went good last week….it’s been really easy so far with the Keto way of eating! I haven’t been tracking what I eat because I have felt good and the weight has slowly been coming off. Yesterday I was 162lbs so half a pound down from last week.

Its not much but still down. And a non scale victory is that I finally could wear my Boise 70.3 shirt for a workout! Truth is it will fit much better with 5 or more lbs off still, but it fit.

(Sorry for the sideways pic…still trying to figure some of these things out)

Saturday I decided I should track what I eat to see if fat/protein/carb macros were close to what they should be. They were pretty close to what I should be at, but I was pretty high in calories.

We have been reading a book by Maria and Craig Emmerich called Keto. There is so much information in there that it is going to take a while for me to get through! What they did say in there that calories still do matter, but not so much in the calories in/calories out way.

A quote from the book:

“Calories and hormones matter; a ketogenic diet is so powerful because it can be used to address both. A ketogenic diet keeps our hormones in balance, which helps us to feel full longer and eliminates cravings – and we can do this while eating fewer calories.” Maria and Craig Emmerich

So this week I am going to try to be more aware of how much and what I am eating. I really hate tracking food because then I have to measure everything. But if my weight stalls or I need a little boost then I think I will have to track things I eat to find out why.

More and more people are jumping on the Keto wagon lately, and have been losing weight, which is exciting! I am happy I am doing this because I feel great and I really do not have any cravings at all, so if it works for others as well, that makes me happy!

 

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Beginner Triathlete – or Intermediate?

As I mentioned last week, this past Saturday was 16 weeks until Ironman 70.3 St. George. 4 months seems like a long time, but it sneaks up quickly! I am glad I started working out more regularly and dialing in my nutrition before now, because it is daunting to have to start from scratch and easy to get overwhelmed with the workouts!

I will often look for 16 week training plans online to guide me through my training, and then modify it to what I need. This past week as I was looking through training plans, I had to think, “Am I still a beginner triathlete or an intermediate?”

Does It Matter?

When training plans specify whether it is a beginner, intermediate, or advanced plan, usually that implies the fitness level of the triathlete. But I think once a person has a number of triathlons under their belt, they are no longer a beginner.

Experience goes a long way in a race. Even if you’ve trained hard, trained consistently, you could go out too fast and use too much energy at the beginning of your race. When you have done a few races, you learn how much you need to hold back in the beginning in order to not crash and burn half-way through the race.

So I would consider myself an intermediate, even though I am not very fast.

My Training Plan

I will be loosely following Matt Fitzgeralds Super Simple Ironman 70.3 training plan for the next 4 months. Mostly for the run and swim training, as I feel my bike training needs to be more specific to the St. George race course.

The run training I will probably adjust a little as well, as there isn’t really a flat section on the run course in St. George. But overall, this training plan will be a great guide for me…. I will just need to add a couple of days of weight training.

This is what my training schedule looks like for this week:

Monday – Bike: Trainer Road * Budawang* + possible swim

Tuesday – Run 4 miles: 1 mile warm up, 2 miles of 10-20 second hill repeats (6% incline), 1 mile cool down + weight workout.

Wednesday – Bike: Trainer Road *Mount Foraker -1* + swim 800m minimum

Thursday – Run 4 miles + weight workout

Friday – Bike: Trainer Road *Gray* + swim 800m

Saturday – Run 6 miles

 

The Past Week

This past week was a fantastic one for me. I did every single workout except for the swims!

My body held up well, though by Friday night I was getting John to roll me out with the stick, because I was too lazy to use the foam roller 😉  It was rather painful, but in a good sort of way.

My bike rides went really well, but my runs are still not where I want them to be. I think it is more of a mental issue than anything, because I just can’t seem to run long on the treadmill. I put music on, try not to look at the numbers, but it is just SO BORING!

 

I usually do intervals of some sort with lots of walk breaks just to make it through. I need the roads to clear up so I feel safe running outside!

I also really need to get to the pool and start swimming. Swimming is my biggest weakness, and I need to be working hard on getting better! It is the hardest to get done though because I have to drive a half hour to go swimming anywhere. And I am to chicken to drive on snowy highways!

This is me coming out of the water last year…. I am hoping to be smiling when I come out of the water this year!! Lol

 

 

I ate well all week as well, besides at the hockey game Saturday night. I didn’t plan on any non keto food, but I didn’t eat enough during the day, and by 8 pm I was starving. We had ordered the kids some waffle fries and I ended up eating about 10 of those.

That’s just life sometimes. As long as it doesn’t happen every day it’s OK!

Down Again

I was nervous to step on the scale this morning, because, as much as I don’t want this journey about the number that shows up on the scale, it is one measure of my progress.

Thankfully I was 162.5…. 2 lbs down from last week!

My clothes fit good now, but I am looking forward to being in the mid 150s! That’s how much I weighed for years and years and so it is definitely my comfort zone. That’s also how much I weighed when I did my first Half Ironman in Boise, Idaho!

Ultimately, I am going for 140, which is totally not unreasonable as I am only 5’2″. But I don’t really have a timeline for that….as long as I am fit enough to complete the race and have a good time, I am happy!

 

I hope everyone else has had a great week, and eats wisely and exercises consistently this week! It is a huge confidence booster when you make it through a week when the healthy eating and the exercise all comes together ;D

 

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70.3 Training – Here We Go!

This coming up Saturday is 16 weeks until Ironman 70.3 St. George. That means that my 70.3 training officially begins! I have been trying to build a decent base, but the last few weeks haven’t been that great. But it is “GO” time now and important that I workout every day. My goal is still the same… I want to have a fantastic race and enjoy it, and the only way to do that is to go into it fully trained!

This Past Week…

I only did 2 workouts this past week, but I enjoyed them both ;). Tuesday morning I ran with Becky and it was absolutely beautiful out! There was no wind, the sun was shining, and I believe it was only -6 degrees Celsius…perfect running weather!

Thursday I did a bike workout on Trainer Road that had three 9 minute reps that were just above my threshold. Between each rep was 6 minutes easy spinning, so plenty of rest. I really enjoyed this workout and will probably do it often.

That was all I did for exercise. Because I work casual, I don’t always know which days/nights I will be working ahead of time. So I ended up working Wednesday, even though I didn’t plan to. This will probably be the hardest thing in the next four months…getting my workout in no matter what happens that day.

This Weeks Workout Plan

Because I am weak muscular wise, I really want to have regular weight training in my plan. I have been trying to find a reasonable plan to go with my swim, bike, and run training that will not overwhelm me.

I came across Mark Allens (six-time Ironman Triathlon World Champion) 12 recommended strength exercises for triathletes who are over 35, have limited training time, and want to guard against injury.

They are:

  1. Lat Pulldown
  2. Leg extensions
  3. Leg Curls
  4. Bench Press
  5. Squats
  6. Lateral Dumbbell raise
  7. Calf raises
  8. Dumbbell Pullover
  9. Backward Lunges
  10. Bicep Curls
  11. Tricep Extension
  12. Leg Press

And sit ups are recommended often as a strong core will keep me in good form through the whole race!

To start off with, I will do 1 set of 15 repetitions of each of these exercises 2 days each week. This will probably add a half hour to my workout, so I will try to do it on days that I have a little more time, as long as it’s not two days in a row.

Monday – Strength Training and 1 hour bike

Tuesday – Run 3-4 miles with 2 minute hill repeats ( possible noon swim)

Wednesday – Morning Swim (if I didn’t do a noon swim Tuesday), 1 hour bike

Thursday – Strength Training and 3 mile run

Friday – Morning Swim and 1 hour bike

Saturday – 5 mile run

Benefits of Strength Training for Triathletes

Strength training is highly beneficial for every single person, no matter what your age. But, as a person ages, it is even more important.

In our 30s and 40s we start to lose muscle mass, but in our 50s, we start to lose it faster. But even if you are in your 50s or older, it’s not too late to start weight training! You can significantly slow the process, and keep yourself active as you age!

I recently watched a video on Facebook posted by Crossfit Pincher Creek , about a 65-year-old Grandmother doing crossfit because she wanted to be able to play with her grand kids.

If that isn’t motivation, I don’t know what is!

But triathletes often neglect strength training, because, well, they are already training for 3 disciplines with swimming, biking, and running. To train properly, a person needs to be doing each of these 3 disciplines at least 3 times per week…so that is already 9 workouts per week!

And, understandably, most do not want to add a couple more workouts to that load.

But, from what I have read, it is totally worth that extra two workouts per week.

When we are training and racing, we put a very heavy workload onto our legs. During the bike, we push hard gears to go fast, engaging our glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves. And when we run, we are using these same muscles, but in a different capacity.

Swimming uses all upper body strength and core muscles. When we swim, we are working our chest, back, biceps, triceps, shoulders, forearms….seriously a great workout!

Even if you are not training for a specific event and just looking for an exercise that is easy on your joints and provides a good cardiovascular workout, I highly recommend adding swimming to your exercise routine every week.

That being said, I hate swimming. I am like a rock and sink rather than float. When I am in a race situation, I usually wear a wet suit because the swim is typically in a cold lake.

A wet suit make you more buoyant, and so the legs easily stay afloat while swimming. So when I am in the pool, I will often put a pull buoy between my legs to keep my legs up and then only use my arms to pull me through the water.

This is a harder workout, because I am not using my legs to kick and help propel me through the water. But it benefits me when it comes to race day, because when participating in a triathlon, I want to save my leg muscles for the bike and run!

 

When we have imbalances in our muscle strength and in the tendons and ligaments supporting these muscles, we are leaving ourselves more prone to injuries.

Women tend to have more knee and hip issues than men, so it is even more important for me to strengthen these areas so I can keep doing the races that I want to do. Bring on the squats, lunges, calf raises, etc!

When we strengthen these muscles and tendons, we are not only able to stay healthy and injury free, but our endurance and speed can increase as well! I am counting on this….;)

Weigh Day

Well, this morning I was pretty nervous to step on the scale. After my little 2 1/2 day sugar/carb fiesta, and gaining 5 lbs, I was hesitant to see what the number was.

I had a good week in the eating department and that definitely showed up on the scale….164.5 this morning! That means I lost the 5 lbs I had gained, plus 1 more.

I am feeling really good, and am excited to see how my body responds to the heavier workout load this week!

I hope you all had a great week, and are sticking to any New Years Resolutions you may have made, remembering it is all about the lifestyle change, not short term change!

 

 

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