ON THE FIRST TRI by Michelle Gadd

"It’s all about small, achievable goals!"

Preparing to do a first triathlon isn’t so different from pregnancy and giving birth. There is unimaginable growth, stages of varying degrees of intensity, transitions and then the final push to the end.

It has been my goal to do a triathlon since having my first son, my second, and finally my third (son, all sons!). I thought it would be a wonderful way to celebrate my body and all it had been through. Training would be a way to get back into shape and a time out from the hustle and bustle of my life with boys.

It took until number three was almost one before I found the courage to start training. I put it out there on social media so there was no going back and away I went. The lessons I’ve learned along the way have been invaluable, from the practical to the personal.

  1. I didn’t hire a coach or trainer. As a former competitive athlete I relied on my coach for workout plans, meal plans and a stringent training schedule. This time I relied on Google. I found a workout schedule that seemed realistic for a busy working mom of three boys and adapted it to my needs. It helped me figure out how often I should be training for each activity: swimming, biking and running.
  1. I started small. I went for 12 minute runs, 5 KM bike rides, and 15 minute swims. I didn’t time myself and I stopped when I needed a break. Swimming was my weakest activity and so I did what felt good. I worked on front crawl but when I was tired I switched up my stroke. It was all about getting a feel for each sport, discovering my weaknesses and where to go from there. I put zero pressure on myself.
  1. Once I felt comfortable with each activity I began to build up the distance I could do, adding a kilometer or a couple 100 meters. I could feel my body getting stronger and my endurance increasing. It was a huge personal celebration when I could do all the Sprint Triathlon        distances! Especially the swimming. I had doubted my ability but I kept pressing on. It was important to celebrate each accomplishment! 
  1. I started to time myself. Oh boy, I was scared to do that. My mindset was “how slow am I?” vs. “How fast am I?” To be more positive I took the times I got and made small goals (It’s all about small, achievable goals!). I chipped away at seconds, not minutes and watched as my times got faster and faster. The only comparisons were between, me, myself and I. As race day approaches this is still the only comparison I’m making. Training for this triathlon has to be for myself because it is my dream.

Probably the most valuable lesson in this triathlon process has been realizing that I’m not actually doing it on my own. From the get go I had unbelievable support from my family and friends. My husband gladly manned the house while I trained. When I went out to the grandparents they volunteered to watch the kids allowing me to fit in a run. When my workout gear was looking ratty friends gave me like-new clothes to sweat in. Every step of the way they’ve been cheering me on in my journey.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. What I’ve discovered is it also takes a village to do a Triathlon. 

Michelle Gadd is a self-proclaimed urban dwelling, Vancouver housewife and mother of three boys. You can find her writing about life--every aspect from parenting to city living, fashion to frugality, food to faith; no subject is off the table--over at ElasticPantCity.com. She also contributes regularly to VancouverMom.ca and ParentDish.ca.

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