A Letter to My 30+ Year Old Self

Tomorrow, you upgrade to your next triathlon age group: F 30-35!

Your last decade was very interesting, wasn’t it? You finally got the big break in design that you’ve been looking for all of your life. Do you remember those nights as a teenager where you dreamed of calling your own shots, living a life that you designed all for yourself? You’re finally there. I know you wanted to be there ten years ago, or even five years ago. Regardless of those timelines, you’ve finally earned your stripes and you’re finally moving on up. Know that it only gets better from here. There’s going to be a lot of demands on your time and your creativity. Never let that entrepreneurial and creative fire die. Fight like your life depends on it, because it really does.

Spend your time focusing on the things, people, and experiences that matter. Those are the things that will carry you for the rest of your days. Those days are indeed numbered. Life can change in an instant. You must be prepared to live every day like it’s your last, not because you are cynical or skeptical but because that is the reality of life. There’s a reason why you have ‘memento mori’ on the back of your mind. You must truly know that the only constant in life is change. In life, nobody makes it out alive so be prepared to make the rest of your days count.

With the work that you do, the people you spend your time with, and the efforts you invest your heart into, do it to leave a positive mark on someone else’s life. Recognition, praise, and money never motivated you, and it probably won’t start to motivate you anytime soon. Continue following your heart because it never led you astray. Balance it out every once in awhile with your mind to make sure you’ve designed around all the edge cases. You’re a UX designer after all…act like it.

A word on your parents and your family – you only have one life to spend with them. They deserve more of your time and attention than you’ve given them. No matter how much you don’t want to admit it, they depend on you. Make them a priority. You can’t change what happened in the past but you can shape how you deal with it now. Forgiveness has been a major theme of your twenties. Keep moving on. Let go of that tragic childhood you endured. It doesn’t define you.

A thing on goals: you’ve got a lot of them. There’s a lot of unfinished business from your twenties: finishing grad school; finishing an Ironman; finishing that second book; traveling the world; climbing up the career ladder; starting an international design firm; starting a design school; building out a scholarship foundation for your alma mater; writing a design curriculum with your old design professors; building a halfway house; paving the way to become a design professor; learning some new markup and programming languages; getting your photography into a gallery or even published; finding Mr. Right. I dare you to continue chasing those goals. You solve a lot of problems at work. You solve a lot of problems for your friends and family. Take some time to solve these problems that will continue eating at you until the day you die.

This is day one of what can be ostensibly described as the most important decade of your life. It’s a turning point. Take caution and pause when appropriate. Know when to hang on and when to let go. Your heart and mind is way too precious to focus on the things that don’t really matter. Take care of the people that take care of you, but most importantly, take care of you. You didn’t endure all that you have to give up now. Fight until the end and set a blazing example for those who want to follow your path.

And, whatever you do, cross that finish line with a smile on your face.

Best wishes,

Your 20-29 year old self

 

An Extended Season Retrospective: Remember Why You Started

So if you’ve been following my training lately, you’ll probably notice that I’ve logged significantly less time swimming, biking, running. After about 11 months of intense training (as well as the ebbs and flows that come with it), and all the stressors that come with life in general, I think my body finally gave in.

My 70.3 is a little under a month away. There is no worry, or panic, really. I am comfortable with the swim and run distances. The bike distance is still a bit scary, but things in life worth doing generally are. (Also, I have completed a ride greater than 56 miles before, so it’s not like I can’t do it again.) I feel comfortable in the water. I feel comfortable on my feet. I feel comfortable enough on my bike if I’m not clipped in. Palm Springs is flat and far as the eye can see — clipping in would be nice, but with such little ramp-up time (totally my fault here) I think I’ll stick to my usual M.O. and just use my running shoes on the ride.

Many things went right this season. I got into the mode of strength training 2-3 times a week, and that paid dividends come race day. That’s definitely something I want to replicate in the future, although maybe at the lower end of the spectrum in terms of the frequency. I conquered my fear of swimming and open water head on and now I enjoy it so much. I proved to myself that most of triathlon was mind over matter — I was racing the weekend after I returned home from when my mom went missing and was subsequently found. I’ve met some really fun people along the way, and trained my way to better health. I’ve never felt more healthy and alive than I do at this very moment, even with the last eight weeks of abuse! (And my abuse I mean that I’ve been “off” my training regimen, going back to pescetarianism, drinking a little more, and enjoying the sweets a bit too much.)

What went wrong this season? There were a few things. I got injured more than I would’ve liked. I stressed out way more about my training schedule than I should’ve. I definitely should’ve learned to clip in to my bike outside of the rainy season. I should’ve tried again after I fell down.

But honestly, I think that’s about it.

I couldn’t have trained harder, gone farther or longer. I have a finite amount of time handed to me every day, and I spent a lot of it on triathlon. There’s a lot more in my life outside of triathlon…my creative endeavors, traveling, family, friends. This is one thing on my bucket list but there are tens and hundreds more line items I need to cross out. Triathlon is a lifelong pursuit — not something I plan on starting and stopping once I reach the finish line. I’m in it for the long haul. There will always be another race, another 140.6, another destination. Being 70.3 ready is part body, part mind. I’m already there.

Remember why you started. I remember. I’ve never forgotten. Things have gotten in the way but no, I’ve never forgotten. I started to prove myself wrong. (Check!) I started to see how far I could take my body, my mind. (Check!) I started to live a healthier life. (Check!) I started to inspire people. (Check!) I started to help others. (Check!) I haven’t stopped, but I need to keep going.

Triathlon is a lifelong journey and this is only the beginning.

Week 6+7 HITS 140.6 Palm Springs Training: Warrior, Not Worrier

Week 6 and 7 are in the books. Only 10 weeks left to go before the big day!

I’ve spent the last few weeks pretty stressed and exhausted. I never knew what it was like to be so tired that I couldn’t sleep. My legs and body would be sore but my mind would wander and race. (Typical me.)

In between week 6 and 7 I went tandem skydiving. It was really awesome. One of the only times this year that I actually found peace. Not having to really worry about equipment and such it was really nice going along for the ride. There’s nothing like falling out of a plane at 12,500 feet with a minute of freefall to give you a new perspective. When I was falling, all was calm in between the ears. I was mostly awe-stricken by the beautiful scenery. It was probably one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life. The irony is that my father (and probably by proxy, mother) were horrified that I had made the jump. I got a few choice words, like “what were you thinking?” “you could do anything else, just not this” “you know everyone is talking about this”.

In life, be a warrior, not a worrier

Let me be clear — crystal clear — that I don’t do any of this to impress anyone. I do these things because I want to do them, plain and simple. And I don’t care if people gossip or talk ill about me behind my back. I could honestly care less. My goals have never been able to impress anyone. I’d rather befriend and motivate people to make changes in their lives for the better. Yes, I take risks…like swimming in open water, riding my bike in traffic, driving my car around, and okay, once jumping out of a plane. All of these things are calculated risks. No one ever expected life to be a safe ride, right? I’m tired of hearing that people are scared of doing things. Fear holds you back. Fear is what keeps people from learning about others, experiencing new things, exploring new places, or understanding themselves. I’ve spent my twenties conquering a lot of my fears — fear of success, fear of falling, fear of failing, fear of swimming, fear of responsibility, fear of commitment, fear of never being able to speak openly about the things that have happened to me. When you live in fear, you lower expectations. I never want to live that way. I could care less if it makes someone else uncomfortable, because frankly I think the positivity I bring to the world far outweighs the fear of naysayers.

Life doesn’t have to suck – do something about it

On a good note, I also had another win last week. My friend signed up for the Whidbey Island Marathon! Looks like I’ll be running another 26.2 after all in April. I’m really excited about getting him race-ready. I’ve put together a pretty sweet plan between the time he gets back from vacation. We’ll be running once or twice a week together. It’s going to be awwwweeesome! On a bad note, my coach cut his hand pretty deep with an ax during a camping trip and it looks like I’ll be doing my Ironman solo. Bahumbug. You win some, you lose some.

Week 6 HITS 140.6 Training: 9.9 hours, Swim: 1408 yds, Bike: 58.75 mi, Run: 10.43 mi

Monday, September 9: 50-minute swim, 50-minute tri team conditioning

Tuesday, September 10: Morning 10K around Seattle

Wednesday, September 11: 40-minute swim

Thursday, September 12: 1-hour ride, 50-minute evening run

Friday, September 13: 1-hour ride

Saturday, September 14: Skydiving! (but the day started out with a 1-hour ride)

Sunday, September 15: 2-hour ride

Week 7 HITS 140.6 Training: 16.7 hours, Swim: 6547.2 yds, Bike: 83.39 mi, Run: 27.17 mi

Monday, September 16: Rest day 🙂

Tuesday, September 17: 1:15 ride

Wednesday, September 18: 8.35 mile sunrise run

Thursday, September 19: 1.32 mile swim, 12.63 mile ride, 5.24 mile run

Friday, September 20: 1.2 mile swim, 3.24 mile run

Saturday, September 21: 30.84 mile ride

Sunday, September 22: 1.2 mile swim, 26.25 mile ride, 10.34 mile run

Also, thanks to everyone who has donated to my fundraiser so far. $244 of my $1500 goal. I really appreciate it!

$244 down. $1,256 to go!

You Can't Run Away From the Quantified Self

When I first started my health and fitness journey with running a few years ago, I logged every mile and for a stretch, logged every morsel I ate. I think that measurement gave me a barometer by which I could measure progress. I could see when I stalled, when I made progress, when I was slipping and when I was succeeding.

One of the things I’ve been ignoring pretty heavily has been my personal finances. Actually, I’ve been ignoring the problem for almost 14 years. 14 years of bad spending habits, lackluster saving habits, poor judgements, and more. There are things I spend my money on, and then there’s the things I bleed money on. You could probably say that triathlon is one of those things, but believe it or not I think I balance the cost/benefits pretty well.

The thing about the quantified self is that there are no judgements. There are only numbers and trends and forecasts, and they do not lie. It’s like looking at a training plan and seeing a bunch of missed days, or looking at a food log and seeing five-too-many Ferrero Rochers logged. (Guilty on both charges.)

This morning, I crunched the numbers. I took a long hard look at one of the things that make me the most uncomfortable — my student loan debt. The principal wasn’t budging much in the last few months and I needed to take a hard look at it to see why. I was appalled to see that 80% of my payment was interest. It’s like training at low intensity for 16 weeks hoping to run a really fast and speedy marathon. It just doesn’t work that way. I was already getting really fed up at where I was financially. My peers are buying homes and raising families. I felt like I was stuck in the same rut I’ve been in since I got my first job when I was 15: trying to hopelessly budget my money and save cash here and there. It wasn’t working.

So, as with many things in my training and on my journey to self-improvement, I’ve made a commitment to myself. This $62K horse I have on my back really has to go. That’s right — $62K. About a third of it was for my undergraduate and the rest of it was for my private grad school degree that I’m only halfway done with. My goal is to be done with paying off these student loans in 2 years. And, if I want to go back to school, I will pay in cash. Just like my training, I will stay connected to the details and make up where I am deficient. I will learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Does that have to put a dent in my triathlon dreams though? Absolutely not, and here’s why:

1) I can pare down my coaching and training a bit — maybe opting for training 1x a week instead of 2-3x a week. I could stretch out my paid training blocks over two months instead of blowing through it once a month. The sessions might be a little more per hour but I will still get the benefits of strength training with the team once a week. This will also give me a chance to work on yoga or rowing once a week, which is perfect!

2) I could budget for specializing coaching on the bike and in open water as needed. I am finally getting the hang of open water, and if I get more practice, it’ll be great. Once I burn my private lessons I can stick to group clinics (which run me about $20 a pop, not to mention the gas money it takes to drive all the way down there). For the bike, I really need a few sessions to get the hang of things and then I need to practice, practice, practice! A way to do this would just to ride more!

3) I could register for my BIG triathlons way in advance and save lots of money by going with the HITS Triathlon race circuit. They race at less commercially popular venues so travel is a bit cheaper. If I can fly with Southwest then even more brownie points.

4) If a large Ironman is in my future, I can race via the Ironman Race For Free program. I pay $50 to register for an event and commit to raising $3,000 for the Ironman Foundation. That’s a pretty sweet deal! I already love fundraising for charity and a $3,000 commitment would definitely be a challenge. They have openings for Ironman Canada and Ironman Lake Tahoe, both races that I am very interested in. It’ll be difficult to have back-to-back fundraisers though.

5) I could test around with more natural foods on my long rides and runs, rather than relying on expensive Gu. (I’m already finding that orange slices and bananas are working great for me…and they are probably much healthier anyways, not to mention cheaper!)

6) I can race in a lot of small, local community races here in the summer. The small community races aren’t too expensive and if I plan ahead enough, I can make space in my budget for them.

So, yes, it is less of an athletic challenge but this goal will definitely effect some of my other plans as well. I look forward to finding creative ways to still enjoy racing but doing so on a budget. The days of limitless traveling and racing may not necessarily be over, but perhaps a bit more controlled and planned. Looking back at my race recaps, it looks like my first year I amassed 12 races. The year after that it was 5. It looks like I’ll cap this year at 5 as well. It might be a tradition worth keeping around!

But, enough stressing about finances. I have an 1-hour open water swim, a 1 hour ride, and an hour and a half run tomorrow. Isn’t that technically an Olympic distance tri? And isn’t that a self-tri a week before my next Olympic distance tri?!

Move Over Louisville…I'm heading to Palm Springs for my 140.6

So there’s been a lot of developments lately in my personal life, some of it good and some of it bad.

For many reasons — I didn’t have enough base training/fitness in the bank…because I was out for a week with a dislocated shoulder, and then was out again for another week and a half with a sprained ankle, and then again for another two weeks because of my wisdom teeth surgery, and then for another week and a half because my mom went missing — I am dropping out of Ironman Louisville.

Just like that. 6 weeks out of a 24 week training plan, gone. Not only is it the emotional stress as of late but part of it was physically too.

I wear my DNS badge with honor knowing that I did everything I could to get ready for this race. I gave up a lot of weekends, a lot of time with my loved ones, made sacrifices and even cut sleep to get my training in at wacky hours. Training for Louisville has given me a lot of perspective, lessons, and even friends that I will carry over into the rest of my training. In training for Louisville I learned a lot about myself, got over my fear of open water swimming, fell for the first (few) times off my bike, and ventured to new places alone.

I spent most of Saturday sulking and being annoyed with everything. Yes, it sucks that I’m dropping out even though I’ve been training diligently since last November. Thankfully I got over it pretty quickly and carried positive energy over to my first olympic distance race on Sunday. I’ve already began making my rounds and telling my support group (friends mostly) about my withdrawal from the race, with a promise to take a stab again at the big 1-4-0-point-6 in the near future.

In fact, I already had a backup race. This girl always has a backup plan. And a backup of a backup. (You should know that by now!)

HITS Palm Springs 2013, I’m coming for you!

Race Recap: 2013 Rock 'n Roll Seattle Half Marathon

Ahhhhh. There’s nothing feeling like you’ve finally arrived in a new city than running a road race there. Make that three. I’ve completed the Athleta Iron Girl 10K last year, along with the Sporty Divas half marathon in Tacoma, but the Rock n Roll races always hold a fond place in my heart.

This race was different. My strategy was completely different. My timing was also a bit strange too.

A week and one day prior to the race, I was sedated in a surgeon’s office getting my bottom jaw cut into. Gory description, I know. I spent the following week in lots of pain, hopped up on meds, and trying to work through the haze of said medications to still meet work deadlines. Sounds like a recipe for disaster but I mostly just worked through everything really slowly. Since I was off my feet for a good two weeks total — one week prior to the surgery, and the week after the surgery — I was really in no condition to run a half marathon.

As a test, I went on a post-op walk. I gave myself a goal of 5K. If I could complete a 5K walk around the neighborhood and still feel fine-ish, then I would go ahead and give the race an honest go. I felt fine so I kept to my promise and made it to the start line. I sacrificed my last tri for this race (in scheduling my surgery, I was opting for one race or the other), so I was going to make this one count.

The race was obviously very scenic, but since it was the first time I walked such a long distance, it really got me thinking. Beforehand, I was a bit concerned that I wouldn’t be able to finish it. 13.1 miles walking is a long way to go. If I couldn’t finish I’d have to take one of the emergency sweeper buses to the finish. I was a bit scared that I’d finish dead last among the half marathoners. It felt out of reach. For the first time in a long time, a race felt so very out of reach. I took it slowly, stopped when I needed to, ate more than I thought I would, drank and hydrated at almost every aid station, and made it out just fine.

I was surprised to do so well after post-op and it made me realize that Ironman Louisville is definitely within reach.

Yes, I will be painfully slow and cutting it close to the cut-offs. Yes, it will be difficult. But, if I just keep plugging away at my training and show up on race day knowing I did my best, well, then I will just try to complete the race to the best of my ability. And if things don’t work out, there will always be another race. There will always be coaches who will help me re-tool my training. I will live another day to blow off another couple hundred dollars on a different triathlon where I will eventually do my best and finish.

A lot of the hurdles I face are mental, and I think walking through this race and feeling those types of mental obstacles peel away mile after mile helped put this all into perspective for me.

Relentless forward progress!

Week 17 + 18 Ironman Louisville Training: Surgery + Post-Op Recovery

This post will be relatively short since I spent week 17 in massive amounts of pain and eventually surgery. I spent week 18 recovering from my surgery, considering my racing/training options, hopped up on pain medications, handling personal family issues, and mentally prepping for a half-marathon since I couldn’t actually physically train. So, even though I didn’t really train, I sure got a lot done.

Strive for progress, not perfection

At the end of week 18 I came to a number of conclusions:

1) Running a half marathon is easier than walking a half marathon
2) Being scared of finishing last is an irrational fear
3) There’s no such thing as resting during post-op. You’re in pain and it feels like work anyways.
4) I miss solid food.
5) I still have a fighting chance for Ironman Louisville if I play my cards right.
6) Reading about training is no match for actually training.
7) Don’t say you feel great when you actually feel lousy.
8) I should strive for progress, not perfection

So, although I don’t have anything exciting to offer in this particular post, I’d have to say that I am convinced of my hairbrained ideas more than ever…meaning that I’m still registered for 7 more Rock ‘n Roll events this year, along with Ironman Louisville in August and a 140.6 or 70.3 in December depending on my performance at Louisville.

I’ve modified my plan by scrapping the original beginners plan provided by the Ironman Louisville sponsor. I applied my old 13 week minimalist training plan that I originally bought to my calendar and it seems a bit more manageable, given the reduced timeline that I have to prep for the race. I have 12 hours next week and 8 hours next week (a bit reduced since I am getting back into the swing of things), and then things ramp up a bit until race week: 16, 8, 12, 14, 15, 8, and then race week. Isn’t that crazy?! Only 9 more weeks? EEEEK. I’m really trying to stand by my credo that it is better to DNS than DNF. I mentioned that when I was originally recovering from my sprained ankle in some of my early training weeks. I remember how disappointed I felt when I missed my 70.3 last November — yes, a new job and incredible work deadlines got in the way of my training, and so did my upper wisdom teeth surgery, but there’s no reason why it has to be the same story again this time around. I’ve done my base training. I’ve been incredibly disciplined. I’ve got the basics down and now I need to work on consistency and endurance and break down some of my mental blocks. My boyfriend thus far has had the most faith in my training and my ability to get back on my feet after my sprained ankle and jaw surgery, and I think that’s what gives me the most conviction. My half marathon over the weekend gave me a new perspective as well, but I’ll save that for the race recap.

In the meantime, here’s what I have to work on this week. My goal is to make an honest effort to arrive at all of my training sessions well rested and to put in the exact amount of time on my feet that I have planned. This is my first week back and I need to make it count! If my teeth are giving me problems then I will rearrange my schedule and take my medication.

Monday – rest
Tuesday – Swim 1 hour, bike 1 hour, train with the team for 45 minutes
Wednesday – Swim 1 hour, run 45 minutes
Thursday – rest
Friday – Run 2:15, train with the team for 45 minutes (still not sure when to get my long run in…)
Saturday – Self-administered fitness test: Swim 1:15, bike 3 hours, run 30 minutes.
Sunday – rest

Here we go!

Whatever You Do, Don't Panic

It has been said that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. I definitely have this incessant need to plan and re-plan and re-work a plan. (It’s just necessary when things don’t go according to…er…plan!) Well, that’s partially from my parents too (they are expert planners) but I think I just like to plan because without a plan, I get uneasy about the unknowns, and thus just panic.

And I’m not the type to panic on the outside. I think I’ve done it once and it was not about swimming or anything. It was a trauma trigger but I can remember a few physiological changes — my breathing got shallow, my hands started getting clammy, my head was pounding, I had an impending need to remove myself from the situation and get a move on. Once I was en route to my escape I felt a little better but took some time to regroup and reflect.

Well, my panic in the water is a little different. It’s taken me a long time and many, many laps to get comfortable in a pool that’s only 4 feet deep. I can still remember when I tried to swim by myself at the Hollywood 24 Hour Fitness and I’d generally only stay 15-20 minutes at a time. Huffing and puffing, I’d “cheat” by doing the backstroke for half my laps. I remember feeling uneasy if other people were in the pool, so I’d make it a point to head there really really early before the rush of actresses and models made their way to the gym.

I put off swimming for a long while, focusing on my run instead. (The times and deadlines themselves to cross the finish line induced far less panic. And technically I could take my sweet time!) However, when I moved to Seattle, I vowed to do things differently. I wanted to get in the pool more frequently. I wanted to get more open water swimming in. I wanted to get over my fear of the water, and I think I’m part of the way there. I started working with my coach to get myself in the pool more regularly, and have a pair of scrutinizing eyes on my form. It’s helped a lot, and without him I certainly be where I’m at today.

This coming weekend there’s an open water swim that I’ve been eyeing — the Animals Only swim in Puget Sound. 55 degrees sounds freezing but the swim is short (only half a mile) and it says we hug the shore. It also seems like a fairly organized event, since they have a series of outdoor swims throughout the summer. I’m trying to muster up the courage to register but I keep procrastinating. Procrastinating is the opposite of planning. Or somehow I’ve managed to plan to procrastinate this entire week.

Anywho, my main takeaway about open water swimming is — whatever you do, don’t panic. The minute you allow yourself to be engulfed by your irrational emotions, things go sideways. Stay calm, breathe, do what you’ve been trained to do, and push through it. There’s no time for panic when you’re focused on the task at hand and you know what to expect.

To help me conquer these irrational fears that still quell under the surface, I’ve been looking at joining two different open water groups — one meets on Tuesday mornings, the other on Thursday evenings. They also happen to be in different parts of town. It’ll be a bit time consuming and expensive to have to shuttle all over Seattle but I think the trade-off will be worth it. The more you do it, the less scary it seems. Well, if it doesn’t get less scary at least I will just know what to expect.

Fingers crossed! What do you do to get over your irrational fears?

Week 9+10 Ironman Louisville Training: Give Up Giving Up

Week 7+8+9 were especially hard but I think in week 10 I’ve pulled through the slump I found myself in. The slump included some insecurity, mixed with a dash of sadness and depression, had some trauma flashbacks. These were the weeks that made me question a lot of my intentions. A lot of it had to do with some cataclysmic events in my personal life, some had to do with the whole Boston bombings thing going on, but one thing is for sure — it was all in my head. In week 10 I think I pulled out of it and that I now have my head back in the game.

I came really close to just giving it all up. At week 9, things seemed incredibly bleak. Being on light training for three weeks is a big deal. My endurance was down, my power was down. Everything seemed more difficult. But with 17 weeks to go from week 9 it seemed difficult, but not absolutely insurmountable.

Honestly, I’d rather take a DNF (did not finish) than a DNS (did not start). I’d rather take a 16:59:59 finish time than inevitably drowning myself in cheese, wine, ice cream, and sorrow on August 25th because I gave up on myself. My doctors and coach are keeping me in tip top shape. My boyfriend and friends are incredibly supportive. If they haven’t given up on me yet, why should I?

We will give up giving up – We will make it count

Some things I learned to be true:

1) If I don’t train in the morning, it won’t happen.
2) If I don’t train I feel like crap.
3) If I don’t make up my training, I feel really guilty.
4) If I don’t train first thing on Saturday and Sunday morning, say goodbye to my long rides and runs and eventually, Ironman.
5) When people start introducing you as “the girl who is training for an Ironman” it increases the pressure to actually finish this damn thing.
6) Training for the Ironman isn’t a solitary endeavor. It requires massive coordination with everyone in my life. That includes my friends, significant other, family, work, coach, cats. It’s like we’re all going through it together.
7) Getting derailed from your training schedule sucks. What sucks even more is the stupid things you do to get yourself in that rut to begin with.

Let’s do this thing.

Week 9 Ironman Louisville training:

5.5 hours of training; Swim: 1936 yards; Bike: 13.41 miles; Run: 6.61 miles. Still in recovery mode. (And I’m slightly down too.)

Monday, April 15: 1 hour swim cut down to 35 minutes. Panting in the pool is no fun.

Tuesday, April 16: 30-minute run before my tri team training session in the morning. Headed home for a 30-minute bike session.

Wednesday, April 17: Rest day. Work has me going nutty!

Thursday, April 18: Ended up skipping swim this day too. Spirits are low.

Friday, April 19: 30-minute run before my tri team training session in the morning. Headed home for a 30-minute bike session.

Saturday, April 20: Skipped my long ride. I don’t remember why I skipped it. I think my excuse was that I woke up too late so I wanted to tackle it on Sunday.

Sunday, April 21: 40 minute swim followed by a 45 minute run.

Week 10 Ironman Louisville training: 

15.7 hours of training; Swim: 5280 yards; Bike: 119.21 miles; Run: 11.83 miles for a total of 134 miles.

Monday, April 22: 40 minute swim followed by a 30 minute ride.

Tuesday, April 23: 30 minute run followed by a 50 minute tri team strength training session.

Wednesday, April 24: An hour on the bike at home, followed up with a 1-hour run to Gas Works Park and back. It was my first time on my feet outdoors. Felt great and took it incredibly slow.

Thursday, April 25: Headed to the gym super early for an early morning swim. Came back home (free parking runs out, you know?) and rode on my trainer for another hour and a half watching funny YouTube videos with my boyfriend. Followed up that evening with another swim (for a full 2.4 miles that day).

Friday, April 26: 20 minute run followed up with a 50 minute tri team strength training session. Followed it up with a half hour on the bike.

Saturday, April 27: An hour ride on the bike trainer. So now my bike is completely killing me. I get off really pouty and annoyed because I’m so sore, and I end up heading over to a few local bike shops. I think I found a good one but I want to check out one more store before I make the leap.

Sunday, April 28: 3.5 hour stationary bike ride (56 miles!!) and a 1 hour run on the treadmill.

How To Recover From a Sprained Ankle

After a painful weekend, I think my ankle is well on the road to recovery. I’m finally able to walk without limping too much and I can finally ambulate crutch-free! (Plus, I was pretty sure that I was more of a hazard with my crutches than without.)

Doctor wrapping a sprained ankle
There are so many things you can do to heal your sprained ankle. Some sprains are worse than others, but here are some basic tips.

Here are the things I did to get my ankle up to speed. Thanks to some quick action by my core support group, I’m up and not-yet-running-but-you-understand-the-metaphor.

1) I immediately sat down when I twisted it and iced it (see point #2). Within 2-3 hours of twisting my ankle I got it checked out by 2 different docs, 1 of them being a chiropractor. My chiro adjusted it that morning (5 days ago) and again this morning, which really loosened all of the scar tissue and adhesions so that the stiffness went away. With the urgent care doctor, I got an ankle brace to immobilize the joint, some crutches to keep weight off of it, and x-rays to rule out any possible fractures. (There were no fractures and dislocations in my x-ray!)

2) Ice religiously. I iced every waking hour for about 15-20 minutes at a time. The ice was necessary for the pain, but also the swelling. Swelling = pain and pain = not good, so ice kept it at bay (mostly). Lucky for me I spent a lot of time off my feet with some work-from-home arrangements and a free weekend at my disposal. Ice, ice baby!

3) Take a 20-30 minute epsom salt bath every night. I’m not sure what it is about epsom salt baths that are so therapeutic, but they’re very relaxing and they help soothe sore muscles. I soaked in the tub mainly because I couldn’t stand, but by proxy I got to finally indulge in some of my fitness magazines while relaxing my stresses away. Lukewarm at this point is best, since heat will just aggravate any pain and swelling you have. When I was in cheer in college, there were ice whirlpools that you could soak your affected limbs in. It was hardly relaxing but at least it sped up the recovery process. Either way, soaking is good.

4) RICE: rest, ice, compression, elevation. Seriously. All of those are super important. Never neglect the basics. You’d be surprised at how much better you will feel once you take care of just these things.

5) 2-3 nightly ankle massages using Chan Yak Hin medicated oil. I picked this up in Chinatown in LA when I last rolled my ankle on the sidewalk last fall, and since then it’s been my little secret. Every time I take a tumble or roll, this medicated oil really speeds up the recovery process. Slathering it on isn’t enough though; you really have to work it in with a good massage. Having studied reflexology makes it easy for me, but don’t be scared to ask someone you trust for help with this one. (Massage always feels better when someone else is giving it!)

6) Elevate your foot while sleeping. I used one of the cushions from my futon that is in the shape of a half-dome. It’s flat on the bottom and goes nowhere, unlike some of by other head pillows. It’s also wide enough to stay in place and heavy enough that it won’t succumb to nocturnal soccer with my significant other.

7) Cut your training volume. This was probably what made me the most sad. Seeing all of those unfinished workouts and the unfinished hours accumulate was seriously dinging my psyche. I had to preemptively cut down on my next two week’s worth of workouts just to make sure that I didn’t injure myself by coming back too much too soon. (I’ve since added some more elliptical workouts because I feel like I can handle it at a low intensity.)

8) Eat a protein-heavy diet. Look, I’m no dietician but since I’m trying to recover from a strained ligament or muscle it makes sense to load up on some protein to give my body the tools it needs to do the job. My diet is generally pretty light on protein anyways so it was a nice change. I stuck to tofu, eggs, and protein shakes since I’m on a vegetarian diet.

9) Sleep 8+ hours a day. That’s saying something for someone who generally sleeps 5-6 hours a night. Again, lucky (or unlucky) for me I twisted my ankle right before the weekend so I got some good veg-out time to do absolutely nothing. Like, I would do things that required no brain-power from me: eating, watching movies, napping, etc. While sleeping your body does most of its recovery work (the Triathlete’s Training Bible says so!) and I really wanted to get my body in tip-top shape. Heck, I also needed the sleep from the insane hours I’ve been pulling at work and in training anyways…

10) Rehab exercises for ankles with someone who knows what they’re doing (i.e. kinesiologist, trainer, physical therapist, chiro). That last part is really important. Don’t just pull some exercises off the internet and start going at them at full speed. Work with people who’ve been trained in this stuff. They’re experts and will know when to push you and when to lay off. My trainer is a kinesiologist and my chiros are obviously trained in subluxations. It helps to have a set of expert eyes on your recovery. It’s definitely worth the investment if you have someone that you trust. I was terrified to set foot in the gym this morning, but when I sat down with my coach, he put together a set of great exercises to loosen up my ankle and to get the limp out of my walk. When I met with my chiro this morning, he examined the ankle and adjusted it so that my limp was completely eliminated. It was awesome.

Any other tips you want to share? My ankle no longer has acute pain but is still a bit sore, so I’m still icing and I’m all ears.