The Lessons Of Discouragement

It’s a quiet Friday afternoon and I’m taking some time to work on this post which you, my faithful 1.5 readers, will be seeing Monday morning when you open your eyes and are tripping over the dog on your way to get  the lovely black gold we call coffee.

The day just cannot start without the stuff, can it? Oh let’s be real, the whole day is fair game for coffee. 😉

I’m much cleaner now than I was a few hours ago, sweaty and salt crusted from my time out on the road doing my brick training this morning ( bike/run)

Clean AND fed. It’s a good place to be.

Oh and coffee. Yes I have that too so I’m ready to get on with todays topic now….

As I’ve shared in previous posts I’ve taken on the lofty athletic goal this year of a duathlon ( a run/bike/run event) Some of my training days involve brick work because well how else am I going to make my body do that stuff on race day?

I’m going to share a few thoughts? A life reflection? learned on the road today. Perhaps you’ll relate or maybe at best and hopefully, it might encourage you.

It goes without saying  based on where I live, that my training during the summer will be hot. Not just hot, but hot and humid. I’ve been on the road at 6:30 a.m. and still manage to be a sweat fest. So pretty much no matter the time I can simply know the workouts will be hot and sweaty.

I’m ok with that, really. Fortunately, I’m pretty well acclimated to it. However, even in that condition some days are just flat out harder than others.

As I geared up to hit the road this morning there were a few things already going on with me. The biggest being,  half my head felt like it had cotton balls in it from some sinus stuff that came out of nowhere. Add to that, all that junk going into my stomach ( gross. sorry. it is) but it does a good job making me feel queasy. Add to that, the little food I had eaten pre workout had settled like a rock in my belly.

Even with that…

I got my gear on, grabbed the bike, and took off. It always amazes me at how things seem to fade away as soon as I clip in and take that first stroke hitting the road. I let the bike settle in under me and let my body get into the rhythm of the ride.

As the miles unfolded both the day and I were getting hot. I did 25.25 miles on this ride. Not flat roads but also with lots of big hills thrown in. Most of my ride is on the actual duathlon course.

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Somewhere out on the course….

 

 

I wrapped the ride, landed where my car was parked, quickly put my bike in, changed to my running shoes and was back on the road a few minutes later.

My legs have adapted well to the change from bike to run but it still takes a little time to let them settle into a new activity…especially after coming off a long hard ride.

My run is only 2 miles with more hills… but have mercy… when I’m already hot from the ride and the sun is beating down…. all I want to do is move quickly to get back.

I sometimes wish I had some shirt on that passing cars saw that said something like…

“Be nice to me I just crawled off my bike and now I’m running”

But I did it, (even if my GPS for some reason decided on my last mile to not pick  up parts of it even though I knew the exact distance) I Knocked out the run and as always that great sense of satisfaction from doing both of those activities settled over me.

Tired. Sweaty. Thirsty. And appreciative of my body for what it could do.

As I cool down one of the things I do is check my stats from my ride and run. Strava is great to track all of my athletic activities as well as the fact it lets me see what others do and how I stack up against them on those routes.

It’s like that proverbial carrot dangling in front of me 😉

As my numbers came up, I was admittedly, a little frustrated. My frustration as it does when I’m upset, can turn to tears. Where my segments certainly weren’t “bad”, I had no new PR’s.

I should say, the last time I did all of the course, I had multiple PR’s. Having no new ones  sorta fueled my fire of frustration.

Although I knew I hadn’t been a 100% physically on top of my game, and that the heat also affected me, I was still frustrated to have not done better.

I probably should interject here… I’m a wee bit competitive with myself …and have high expectations whenever I step into any of my athletic activities.

I sat on the warm pavement next to my vehicle,  looking at those numbers, clutching my recovery drink and choking back those hot tears.

What was it going to take? How long did I have to work and push to get over that next hurdle of being a little stronger, and  faster?

I questioned being out that morning and maybe I should’ve just stayed in or done something a bit less physically demanding.

I looked at some numbers with only seconds separating me from the times I had been previously. I never thought much about “seconds” but I’ll tell you, in the athletic world, they count for a lot. One second can drop you into a new category or move you into first place from second.

They matter a lot.

As I felt that weight ( and I’m sure being wrung out and hot from everything didn’t help my mood) settle over me the more sane part of my brain began to speak to me…..

The fact alone I had just ridden over 25 miles and then run 2 was an accomplishment not many kick started their day with! Regards of my ideals for my times, I had still done it.

The training counted and it mattered that I was out there.. even if I didn’t think ( in my mind) that it was one of my best workouts.

I realized that my stubbornness and grit to be on the road was an asset that served me well in the rest of my daily life.

Life takes a certain level of stubbornness and grit to get through.

I hadn’t quit.

We’ve all been there, right? Something seems tough. There’s something we know is going to require a lot from us and it seems easier to find a reason to not do it. Quitting seems like an easy way out.

You’re nodding your head… you’ve been in the same boat too…

But that’s when you dig deep, sometimes really deep, and pull out all you’ve got to do what needs to be done.

Making an excuse to not be out there would’ve made me feel worse than not doing it. I never finish a workout that I haven’t been happy for doing it.

Even if my times weren’t as impressive as previously.

That’s when it hit me.

How far I’ve come.

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How much progress I’ve made. The changes I’ve gone through. The strength and speed I have gained.

What I’ve learned through the process.

Each step moves me towards my goal and those steps are made up of good and sometimes not so good moments. But they all are leading to my goal.

I learn more about what I’m made of when I have to work harder or push myself out of my comfort zone.

The lesson for you.

I’m thinking as you’re sitting there reading this, sipping from your now tepid cup of coffee, that you may have been or be in a similar place.

You are pursuing a goal, working towards something important, have a new vision.

Discouragement, weariness, self doubt, feelings of inadequacy, questioning your sanity… all of those things might creep in on you.

It’s in those times my friend, that we learn more of what we’re made of. If we’re strong, we push back and reset our focus and continue our forward movement. If we don’t feel so strong, new strength can be born in us, giving us more confidence in our abilities.

It’s a time of growth and change… if we allow it to be.

Don’t give up and don’t give in even if you get discouraged.

And me? How am I ?

After those truths settled over me, I wiped off my sweaty, salty face and made my way home to shower and plot my next training session.

Are you doing something now that sometimes frustrates you? Do you get discouraged when you feel like you haven’t done your best? How do you handle it ? Have you learned lessons out on the road ?

 

 

 

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The Accidental Cyclist

It came up again in casual conversation as it almost always does….

“So, when did you start cycling? I guess you’ve been at it awhile?”  ( you can also interchange “running” as well with these questions)

Ok, I’ll admit I love the opportunity to share sports I’m passionate about especially if it encourages someone to want to get out and try it. It’s obviously  fun for me when the person is involved in whatever activity  and we can “talk shop”.  I use those times to pick brains and learn more from someone who might have more experience in the field than I do.

So when the question came up I shared  I had only gotten my “real” racing bike a year ago but there was a catalyst that propelled me to that because before then I felt like…

A Wanna Be Biker Chick

I usually back up to the fact that running is my passion, and as passions go I had thrown myself whole  heartedly into my love and also picked up an injury that had majorly side lined me from my passion. (Heavy training for a marathon, straight into a 50k… but it was so worth it)

I had a bike, a cheap little mountain bike, that I used for cross training days when I’d give my legs a break from running. There were honestly weeks that went by I didn’t see the bike. I loved running. I didn’t consider myself a cyclist. I was a runner.

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My mountain bike that would start it all…

 

I was at Walmart one day and realized they had cheap little “road” bikes for sale.

Ahhhh perfect I thought. This will get me moving more on the bike and I can maybe start training for “something”.

A road bike was, for me, an upgrade from a mountain bike.  I still did not see myself as more than a casual bike rider. But none the less, I started packing some miles on it. About my only nod to looking like a cyclist was wearing a helmet ( for heavens sake…always…wear a helmet no matter what)

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See. I told you. Nothing but running gear, a helmet, and my trusty road bike from Walmart.

 

I’d see “real” cyclists flying down the road in their sleek clothes, bright helmets, feet clipped into pedals, on bikes that were the price of a good used car and think those are REAL cyclists….

I still felt like a wanna be biker chick.

I took my trusty new road bike to a local shop in town for a “tune up” before I started pushing more miles on it.

The tune up cost me what the bike did.  Seriously.

By that time I had been logging some real miles, using it as a substitute to fill my craving for all the  miles I wasn’t getting on the road running. I was already entertaining the very lofty goal of the duathlon if my feet would just heal up already.

I shared this tidbit with Mr. Knowledgeable Bike Shop Man … he nicely said..” I don’t think this bike is going to work for what you’re wanting to do.”  He then of course started showing me nice pricey little bikes he had available and I just thought he was trying to upsell me and make some money.

Ah. Little did I know.

A year rolls by…..

I had been seriously abusing my little bike. I was logging anywhere from 45-55 miles a week on it. I was getting hooked. I still had my duathlon dreams lurking in the back of my mind and the bike gave me the adrenaline of miles without beating my body up.

As things happen in life I came across a nicer road bike for re-sale. I had taken it in to another bike shop to have them look at it and to see if it would fit me (when you have a long body and long legs you gotta consider these things!)

Of course, the bike was to small for me.

As luck would have it, he had a bike that would fit me perfectly. He wheels out this bright, shiny red  Cannondale that looked like the equivalent of a sports car to me. With a few tweaks and adjustments he hands it over to me telling me to “take it out for a spin”.

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So pretty… just waiting for miles….

 

I am hardly dressed to ride that day in slim fitting black pants and combat boots but he didn’t have to tell me twice. It only took minutes in the saddle to feel the difference and know this was a game changer.

This would help me get to my goals.

As I came zipping back in feeling like a kid with my hair flying everywhere ( the only time I rode without a helmet) I knew I had to have that bike.

Yet still nagging in the back of my mind… you aren’t reallllyyy a cyclist….

The bike was on sale. He had a limited number. I left that day and basically started selling random possessions no longer needed and squirreling that money away. Within a month I had not only the money for the bike, but also for cycling shoes ’cause I was doing it all.

I was getting the racing bike and shoes to clip in.. geez I thought running shoes were expensive!

As luck would have it, when I got to the bike shop he had one left. He has told me over and over how glad he is I got it, that it was still there for me.

He (still) tells anyone in the shop when I’m in… “DUDE! She was riding 50ish miles a week on a Walmart bike!”

To which I get looks that you would receive if you said you had just hiked the Himelaya mountains… one does not simply ride that many miles on a Walmart bike.  I have sense learned… things fall apart on them at the most inopportune times… like when my handle bars started turning every which way but loose and I had like 5 miles to keep riding back trying to hold them in place. Good times. They are designed for spins around the neighborhood with your kids but not beating the life out of them 25+ miles at a time.

Maybe I am a cyclist…...

Hanging out in a bike shop talking with like minded people who don’t think you’re crazy, who are ridiculously smart on the topic, and push you to your athletic goals is a cool thing. I realized that they completely considered me one and were willing to help and teach me things ( as in learning to change a tire)  I was in recently talking about my training and he referred to me as a duathlete and I looked around thinking he meant someone else.

I told hubby later and he was like… “uh… you ARE a duathlete.”

 

We just celebrated our one year anniversary together.

No. Not me and the hubby, me and the Cannondale that is. I’ve put over 1500 miles on it which compared to some riders, isn’t a lot, but for me it represents lots of training miles, lots of discipline and learning new things. I’ve become stronger and more confident in what I’m doing. I take it in frequently for it’s free tune ups and to talk bike stuff with people who still know more than me. Since I have (officially) signed up for my first duathlon which is in November, I have a team at the shop that will make sure my bike is in top condition for the event. That’s kinda cool, I think.

So I’ve been burning up the road. A wounded runner turned cyclist…turned duathlete…maybe I really am one now….

But I’m more of a rebellious, nonconforming cyclist……

First, I break all cycling rules by acknowledging another cyclist who’s sailing by me. I mean… we are passing each other… can’t miss one another… but I’m always blown away at how many seemingly look right through me. Runners are so different on this score… in the cycling world I think it’s some unwritten law to not acknowledge each other…

I do have more gear now. The helmet of course. I just got a cool new Giro a few months ago. Of course I have their cycling shoes as well and even though learning to clip and unclip and all that goes with it was a learning process, it definitely helps deliver a lot more power on the bike. Now I can’t imagine not riding clipped in.  A lot different than riding in my running shoes from a year ago!

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Ok, maybe I do get a little excited over new gear 😉

 

But you will most likely find me on these warm days in nothing more than my sports bra and my running shorts. Yeah, my running shorts. I do have cycling shorts but training for a duathlon and having to run, I find my running shorts work better. So I’m training like I will race. Although, November is gonna come around and change things up 😉

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A lesser known thing about cycling, learning to perfect your selfie skills on the bike 😉

 

Cycling can get crazy expensive so I invested into the stuff that matters ( a good bike, shoes, helmet) and I fly on the cheap with the rest of it. I love some of the cute cycling kits available but prices on them are crazy so… until I get a sponsor for my fav’s … I’ll keep trolling Ebay for cute ones with good deals 😉

I am a cyclist.

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Cycling girl. And in my most recent acquisition from Ebay. How cute is this jersey??

 

 

The “wanna be biker chick” idea left a long time ago.

Even if I accidentally stumbled into the world of cycling, I’m here. I’m in it. I’ve found another sport I actually enjoy and it turns out, I’m pretty good at.

As the guys at the bike shop tell me “You wanna be better? You spend more time on the road. You ride. You push yourself. You learn.”

So I continue the journey, on foot and bike. constantly grateful for the opportunity to do both and excited to see where I can go from here.

With open roads, the challenges are unlimited.

Tell me, have you accidentally stumbled into something only to find a new passion?

Conquering Your Mountains

Conquer: to successfully overcome, to climb ( a mountain successfully).

I had just returned recently from one of my long rides out on the bike when I got a message from my daughter in law. Actually, it was a photo of my new granddaughter, wrapped snuggly in a towel after her bath.

Her big eyes wide open and alert, her tiny nose peeking through, she looked quite content and comfy.

After responding with the usual… ” eek I love her, she’s so cute”… I tell her that’s what I need…

A shower.

I’m in desperate need of it as I’m now sweat dried and dirty from the road.  I told her I had finished up 32 miles to which I get this response…

“you crazy woman!” ( this is a high compliment indeed haha)

It was followed by… “I’m so proud of you for conquering the bike while you can’t run!”

I really don’t think she knew how much those words meant to me.

I had certainly been on a bike in the previous year, but it was a cheap little bike I had picked up from the local Wal-mart and certainly not designed for the things I had been doing to it. I thought the  guy at the first bike shop I went to was simply trying to sell me something pricier when I told him what my riding goals were. I was kind of ( ignorant) to some aspects of cycling at that time… now I know…

I should’ve caught on when during a longer ride the handlebars had come loose and I had to physically manhandle them into place to finish the last 5 miles of my ride.

Cheap bikes aren’t meant to have the life ridden out of them 😛

It was June of this year when I got my first, real, professional road bike. A hot little black and red Cannondale. I found another bike shop where the guys there have taken me in and taught me essential things, and also challenged me on another level as well. It’s also kinda cool to have a place to land where you can talk about your athletic goals and they listen, offer encouragement and suggestions.

So, since June, I’ve been out on the road a lot more. I’ve added more miles, and learned to not be intimidated by crazy monster hills that make me think they’re gonna eat my lunch.

I’ve sharpened my mental muscle a lot more…and I thought it was pretty tough from all that marathon training…but like any muscle…. there’s always room for growth.

Cycling is work. Often hard and demanding work.  You learn to enjoy the downhill moments ’cause you know more hard stuff is coming at you.

Not only that, there is learning about your bike, all that shifting stuff (gah) and also learning how to push yourself more. It’s easy to sometimes stay in your comfort zone, it takes work to get out of it.

So I thought about that whole “conquering the bike” thing.

Being an endurance runner, I will admit, the move to cycling was rather seamless for me. I already had a lot of strength and discipline from distance running so physically it fit me well.

 But It’s not just that…it was learning to conquer:

perceived limitations, my assessment of my abilities, getting out of (yet) another comfort zone, mountains, hills, and more mountains to take on, conquering the mechanics of the bike and riding in a different way,  conquering self-doubt when the next step seems to taunt me that (what if) I don’t have what it takes? It’s also new skills and having an open mind to be taught and learn.

Conquering a new sport when running has been my “baby” for the past couple years.  Hey, at this point, why settle for one sport ? 😛

So I reflected on those simple words she spoke to me and soaked them in… they have come during rides to remind me what I’m capable of, what I’ve learned, and more importantly how I’ve grown and learned.

I’m not done yet. I have so much room to grow, learn, get stronger and better and what I’m doing. But I am confident, I will continue to conquer it.

So I’ll leave these words with you, my faithful readers.

What have you conquered? What seems bigger than you and you find yourself digging deeper to overcome and conquer something you previously didn’t think you could do ? It’s in the journey that we learn and grow but if we are strong and persevere we find we have everything we need in us to conquer and overcome, no matter what it is.

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On top of one of the mountains that challenge me 🙂

So I May Be A Cyclist

How did it happen?  How did I go from nothing… to walking… to lifting some weights and other heavy objects… to running… and then landing on a bike? And then… alternating doing it all?

Like… one sport isn’t enough ??

Evidently not.

I may be a bit of an overachiever. Or at least I have some bigger aspirations to see myself do more than I may have originally thought.

Ok.. so the cycling thing.

I’ve kinda just fallen into it almost by default. I’ve shared before I had gotten a cheapy mountain bike to use for cross training on days I might not run.

There were weeks the bike sat doing nothing. I was happy in my little running world.

Then I’d zip off for 7-10 miles and that would be that.

Until… a stupid injury entered the picture and sidelined the running ( it is still there… cycling doesn’t seem to make it any worse or hurt me… running stirs it up again…sooo… yeah enough on that nagging topic)

So the injury put me on the bike more. It gave me freedom, the miles I craved, the ability to still do some endurance work and more speed than my legs on land could generate.

Fast forward through two cheap bikes till I got my first “real” road bike 2 months ago.

She’s so pretty and we’ve become amazing friends.

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Hello new Cannondale

 

Like all new relationships, we took some time to get to know one another. So for a week I kept mileage short and just got the overall feel of my new wheels under me.

After that, the fun and games began.

Miles started getting longer. I started to take bigger hills. Pushing myself faster. Loving the challenges of working hard. Really loving flying off hills pushing the speed limit 😉

Sweat flying, heart beating strong, legs working… the thrill of feeling my body respond to what I’m doing.. watching the world fly by… powered by only… by.. me.

I’m learning all the strength I’ve built on the road running and all the indoor strength training is having big payoffs on the bike. I think with more training I’m going to be kind of beast like with this cycling thing.

Once you get the bike.. and then the bug gets you… you start doing stuff like this….

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You start buying gear……

 

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And doing crazy things like this….

 

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and this…..     

 

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Sometimes you feel like this after…               

 

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Or look like this….

 

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and at the end, you learn to appreciate Gatorade, even if I do think it still tastes like sweat.
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Then at the end…. you get to see your accomplishments 🙂

 

 

So yeah, I’m not sure, but I think the cycling bug has bitten me and I can hardly wait to see where my lovely new Cannondale and I will go together .

Tell me… is there a sport or activity you are passionate about ?

The Athlete’s Heart

athletes heart

 

The heart. It’s pretty standard equipment in all human bodies. This amazing organ tucked inside your body pumping blood to all your cells and organs has been beating since your mother was only four weeks pregnant.  Did you know that ??

As I’ve gotten more athletic it’s become more important to me to understand things like my heart rate, my training heart rate, and my resting heart rate.

This incredible organ we must remember, is a muscle and it needs trained and conditioned just like the muscles we can visibly see if we flex our arms. Perhaps conditioning it is at the TOP of the importance list.

The best way to exercise your heart is by doing cardio exercises ( stuff that makes you breath hard and sweat. This is what most people don’t enjoy doing because this is when they realize they are “really” out of shape)

Ok that being said, I mentioned in a post a week or two back that I had gotten the new Garmin Vivoactive HR  which has a heart rate monitor built into the watch and I can literally track my heart rate in normal day activities, training times, and when I’m at rest.

I’ve been fascinated with the fact that endurance athletes begin to develop lower resting heart rates from all of the physical training they go through… it’s that cardio stuff again 😉

I will try and not get to complicated on terms and what not but….

the interesting cause of an endurance athlete having lower resting heart rates than the general population is basically how the heart adapts and basically enlarges due to the training the body undergoes.  Heart rhythms for which the elderly require pacemakers are normal in the trained athlete. This slowed heart beat is a condition called  sinus bradycardia.

Athlete’s heart most often does not have any physical symptoms, although an indicator would be a consistently low resting heart rate. Athletes with AHS often do not realize they have the condition unless they undergo specific medical tests, because athlete’s heart is a normal, physiological adaptation of the body to the stresses of physical conditioning and aerobic exercise.

Athletes tend to have lower resting heart rates because training programs that build speed, fitness, muscle and endurance also train your heart muscles to pump a higher volume of blood with each heartbeat. Ultimately, it takes fewer heartbeats to power a well-conditioned athlete during intense training as well as during rest.

During intense exercise, the hearts of highly trained athletes pump as much as twice the volume of blood as the hearts of untrained people.

While the normal resting heart rate for adults ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute, conditioned athletes and other highly fit individuals might have normal resting heart rates of 40 to 60 beats per minute. This indicates a high level of cardiovascular fitness.

This is where I’ve found having my heart monitor on my new watch to be rather fascinating. In the month I’ve had it, it has tracked my heart rate in daily activities, during my workouts, and my resting heart rate.  Maybe I’m a little nerdy but I kinda like all those stats 😉

Thus far, my resting heart rate seems to land in the high 40’s to low -mid 50’s. Although I’ve had a few nights were my numbers were 38 and 34! My rate in my normal activities stays in the 60-70’s.   Needless to say, I’m in triple digits in heavy workouts 😛

This again is proof and reminds me that my heart is a muscle that needs worked, trained and challenged to stay strong and not have to work as hard because it’s “in shape” too. It also gives me an idea of my fitness level.

My husband has been in the cardiology field for many years now. So of course, you know, I’ve asked him questions and bugged him about this. When I feed him my numbers his usual response to me is… ” you have an athletes heart”. He tells me if we saw a ” normal” person with some of those numbers we would be looking to see why they had them ( as in, it would indicate possible heart problems)

There are some non athletic individuals who might naturally have a low heart rate that can simply be a product of genetics.

Others, if there is a consistent low heart rate might indicate possible problems and should be evaluated by a cardiologist.

So bottom line, your heart is not only amazing in that it pumps blood, non-stop, your entire life, it has the ability to grow, get stronger and change to work more efficiently while neatly conserving energy.

Even if you have no plans to become an endurance athlete, your heart still needs good doses of cardio too! Make sure you’re getting it at least 5 days a week, 30 minutes a day.

And I’ll close this with a few fun facts about your heart you might not know….

A kitchen faucet would have to be turned on all the way for at least 45 years to equal the amount of blood pumped in an average lifetime.

The “thump-thump” of a heartbeat is the sound made by the four valves closing.

And finally, if you need any more encouragement about heart care consider this…

the heart does the most physical work of any muscle during a lifetime. The power output of the heart ranges from 1-5 watts. While the quadriceps can produce 100 watts for a few minutes, an out put of 1 watt for 80 years is equal to 2.5 gigajoules.

 

Are you an endurance athlete? Have you seen your resting heart rate change?

If you don’t work out, do you find cardio work challenging? Do you understand the need to train our heart as much as  the outer muscles we can see?

 

F.E.A.R.

fear

 

Growing up I was an avid reader. I still enjoy reading and I like reading on a wide variety of things only now I can do it on my phone, my computer or in book form ( ok I’m still really old school and love nothing more than going to the library and picking out some books, call me a nerd)

One author I readily devoured, was Stephen King. Why?? Why? I’d ask myself when half way through I realized I was terrified. It had crept up on me as subtle as the morning dawn… fear. It gripped my heart and made me drop the book and go find something wholesome and distracting to do so those feelings would subside.

I swear Pet Cemetery left me jumping at every random scratching sound and had me sleeping with one eye open and I couldn’t blame that on Metallica’s music 😉

Geez. He’s so good at scaring you and making you fearful.

Yet, what was scaring me was nothing more than the extreme and deep mind of a gifted writer.  I really had nothing to fear.

Yet how often in life can fear grip us when we really have nothing to fear? Fears of the unknown, of “what if”, of what would I do, what if this happen? etc. etc.

Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger—if we didn’t feel it, we couldn’t protect ourselves from legitimate threats. But often we fear situations that are far from life-or-death, and thus hang back for no good reason.

Look at that last part again…. hang back for no good reason.

What fear causes you to hang back from something or leaves you worried or causes you anxiety for no good reason?

I was thinking this past week (one night when I was supposed to be falling asleep) about a long ride I was going to do the next morning.  The long ride wasn’t what was troubling me. I knew I could handle the mileage. What I was feeling a little fearful about was what I’d encounter on my long ride.

A hill that twisted and turned, which I guess you could say, led up to the top of the mountain it actually was. There was also another significant hill on my route, I felt fairly confident I’d nail that ok.

But this other one, that was troubling me. Ok, if I’m honest with you, my readers all over the world, I was a bit fearful.

discard fear

Why??? That next morning with the miles building under me and settling into the rhythm of the road, it was in my head, a presence almost taunting me.

It left me fearing my abilities, or perhaps, lack thereof to take on something so formidable.  I’m fairly new to the world of cycling and I was riding on terrain where they run one of the toughest cycling races in our state.

Did I have what it would take? I knew I was strong but was I strong enough to muscle that hill ?

What I knew I had to get on top of long before I got there, was my mental game. I couldn’t go into that without my mind firmly being in place. If there’s one thing I’ve learned as an athlete, my mental game has to be as strong, if not stronger, than my body.

Fears, will cripple your mental game.

So I began to mentally talk to myself what was I afraid of?  Really?

I was afraid of not being able to do it, of failing.

I then asked myself, and what if I couldn’t, what was the worst that could happen?

EEK.. get off and push it up the hill??

I was afraid I wouldn’t have the physical strength to do it, that somehow , I’d be lacking.

Fear can cripple us from moving forward, no matter what it is in our life we want to take on.

I didn’t want to “hang back for no good reason”. I wanted to face what it was head on and know that I could do it. I knew once I tackled it, it would not seem as insurmountable as next time.

The sun was out high in the sky although it was still morning. Sweat had already soaked me and was running down my legs and arms, my gloves were wet under my hands. I felt my legs respond to the incline. I tried to make my breathing as focused and even as when I was in childbirth, slow, steady and measured. My heart, it let me know if was doing it’s job 😉

I took that hill, I focused on each pedal stroke, tried to keep my breathing even ( which was pretty hard!), and knew that when I got to the top I’d be back on my “regular” training ground again.

I was so afraid that thing was gonna eat my lunch.

It didn’t.

I did it. I never let that fear come back that I couldn’t.  I felt victorious.

You know what? I just did that hill again yesterday. I have a very healthy respect for it. But you wanna know something?

I improved my time from my first attempt….so there’s that…. I went up it faster.

Fears can cripple us. They can hold us back and keep us from new victories, in all areas of our lives.

I love this quote from Zig Ziglar…

“F-E-A-R has two meanings: ‘Forget everything and run” or ” Face everything and rise” the choice, is yours”

I’ve heard this before, and well for me, face everything and rise is where I’m at.

Now, what about you? Do you have fears that hinder you or cause you to hang back from living?  What will you choose? to rise? or to run?

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Cycling Adventures

If you missed my post a week or two back… I got a new bike.  A cool red and black Cannondale that weighs almost nothing. My first venture into professional bikes.

I feel like one of the big kids out on the road

In the few weeks since I got it, the two of us have been on some adventures together. In the first week it was really about getting to know one another… somewhat like a new relationship.

I kept my rides shorter… 7-9 miles… as I got used to shifting (ugh this is still something I’m learning) and letting my body get used to the new positioning on this bike ( you seem to use muscles in a different way, and something TOTALLY  new for me, being clipped in to my pedals.

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Ready, set, clip.

 

I now understand, and know why cyclists walk they way they walk haha… those shoes with the clips…

There is, I believe, a skillful art to getting on your bike, clipping a foot, beginning to pedal, and clipping in the other.

I wanna ace that move seamlessly… I’m so… close.

So… I do know this.. when you fall over… you come unclipped haha

It really was silly on my part… I was getting on my bike in our side yard which is horribly uneven…my new bike is also taller than my cheapy old one so I have to stretch a bit more… I had one side clipped.. somehow over corrected.. and BOOM… I was down… and unclipped.

Yes I was fine and so was my bike… but I was annoyed with myself. You have to understand I have a high expectation level for myself. I want to nail things pretty close in the first couple attempts, especially when I’m doing something new.

Let’s just say now I’m hitting the road, and clipping while I’m pedaling.. I’m getting there 😛

The second week in I was itching to just do some long miles and see how it all felt. I made my first 23 mile ride on it, which was kind of amazing.

Those miles are always involve hills and lots on constant inclines… not a bad thing.. but definitely work for the body.

 

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Yes, those are hills behind me. Yes, I ran off without my gloves, watch and water on this ride. At least my head was covered.

 

 

I’m still learning the fine art of shifting and hills and getting the right gear for when I hit it .. you know .. just the right amount to pedal.. but not be so hard it shuts  me down.

I feel like Dory from Finding Nemo…

Just keep swimming,
Just keep swimming,
Just keep swimming swimming swimming,
What do we do we swim swim swim

Only for me… just put pedaling in there haha

I did my second long ride this past week. I guess it’s a good thing to be finished and still wanting to do more?

Ok as mentioned, the bike is super light, and I’m really learning to move my legs faster to get that speed going.

That speed, is a head rush, a cheap adrenaline thrill.

And then, when you’re flying off big hills, yeah I pretty much lay low and enjoy the blurry ride down.

Admit it. If you’re a cyclist you do too. It’s the reward for torturing yourself going up hills  😉

I’ve learned to skillfully pull my water bottle out of the cage, drink, drop it in all the while pedaling and not crashing.

I call that a win.

I think as I start getting out farther and need to eat, it will be way easier than doing it while running.

Of course being on a bike also means having eyes all over my head to dodge cars and wild life.

Today a deer and I had a close encounter when I went flying onto a side road. I had moments to ponder… ” are you gonna move deer?”

That keeps things interesting.

Clothing. Other than wanting to get set up with the right shoes for the job, I’ve kinda been winging it in my running attire. And since it’s like… crazy warm and summer time… it’s a sports bra and boy shorts for the adventures.

I can’t help it. I just love feeling the sun and wind on my skin…. and the sweat. Let’s not forget all the sweat haha

I did actually purchase my first pair of cycling shorts, I’m thinking if I’m gonna be on that bike for a lot longer mileage, they will come in handy 😛

So for now, in the upcoming weeks, my goal is to keep moving my miles up, pushing myself on speed, heading into more hills to get super skillful on shifting with them, and looking for my first race to actually ride in.

Oh… other goals? To be so good I can be flying down the road, snap a super cool road selfie, and not crash in the process.  I’m kinda jealous of some amazing road picks I’ve seen…skill level… high.

Cycling has been a good fix for me to get miles in while I’m curbed with running. I’m excited to see where I can go with it, how I can improve and ways I can challenge myself.

Tell me… have you began any new adventures in your life?

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Ready to crush some miles.