Just Say Yes to a Challenge
Issue 28: Sometimes you just gotta jump in and see how it goes
When it comes to invites to fitness adventures, I live by the policy that unless it’s a hard no, it’s a yes. That means unless I absolutely don’t want to do it, even if I’m questioning it, I’ll go for it. And that’s how I got myself into the New York City Triathlon this past weekend. When Life Time Fitness reached out with the opportunity, I didn’t feel the need to immediately say no, so it was a yes. Despite telling myself after my last triathlon attempt that I would never do another (a story for another day), I chatted with my go-to fitness buddy about teaming up for the feat and a few days later, we were in, with just a few weeks to prep.
Now I don’t necessarily suggest signing up for a race or hike or another physical challenge without training for it. But sometimes you also have to avoid overthinking how prepared you’ll be and just dive in for some fun. Signing up for the recreation division, as we did, also helps eliminate the stress of competing when you’re not fully trained and allows you to simply enjoy the course and movement, without all the pressure (or at least some of the pressure). And it made the day so darn fun!
I have to say, triathlons require so much gear and setting up that gear that I wholeheartedly commend those who do these events regularly. You need a solid wetsuit and set of goggles for the swim, a sturdy road bike with shoes and pedals that let you ride clipped in (a major game-changer when tackling inclines), some running shoes, and a tri suit that easily moves with you through the three events. And then you have to set up your transition area to go from the swim to bike to run. Once you have some good equipment to rely on, though, and everything set up in your transition area, the three events make for an awesome new challenge, with little wins to check off on the way to the finish.
Sadly, this year officials had to cancel the swim leg of the race, thanks to bacteria levels reaching nine times above what’s deemed safe (yes, 9 times!). I had heard that the Hudson has a current that basically carries you to the finish of the one-mile swim, without putting in too much effort, so I was excited to try it out. But considering I was basically the last one out of the water during my last tri, I guess it was for the better. Instead of swimming that mile, we ran it and then went into the 25-mile(ish) bike and 10K run.
What I loved about the day was not only getting to catch up with my friend and have her to rely on for support through each tough stretch of the course, but the bike portion was just so fun and boosted my confidence on two wheels. We glided up and down rolling hills along the west side of Manhattan and the Bronx, and got to catch a glimpse of a few parts of the city I’ve never seen, including cool views of the Hudson and George Washington Bridge. Also, this race just happened to have the kindest participants, with people cheering us on as they passed by on bike or foot and even spectators giving us the biggest smiles, good jobs, and rounds of applause.
Race days have a feeling you can’t really recreate virtually or on your own long runs or rides. And if I didn’t just say yes to this event, I would have missed out on one of my favorite days of the year so far. For me, it’s rarely about crossing the finish line or achieving the fastest time (though that’s def fulfilling too!), but it’s about seeing what my body can do, how much fun I can have putting it to the test, and getting to bond with others through the journey. So, I’ll stick to that yes-unless-it’s-a-hard-no plan in hopes that more unexpectedly uplifting adventures fill my calendar. Will you join?
A few other people’s words about wellness I’ve read (and loved) recently:
Rachel Syme’s “What Deadlines Do to Lifetimes” for The New Yorker is a great read, particularly for those procrastinators who wait until the 11th hour to complete a task on time. (Hi, that’s me!) Syme talks about how deadlines and being deadline obsessed can actually mess with our potential and viewing them as collective accountability—more than individual achievement—can help with motivation to get things done.
“Do We Really Need to Take 10,000 Steps a Day for Our Health?” published in The New York Times talks about how that number, truthfully, is kind of made up. In actuality, taking even just 7,500 steps a day can improve your health or working to increasing that number by just a few thousand steps is a good, approachable way of improving overall health. Keep in mind, 10K a day is still a great goal, just maybe not the number everyone needs.
Not words to read, but to listen to, I loved Outside’s video, “Building Community Through Climbing.” Climber and Outdoor Research ambassador Monserrat Alvarez Matehuala shares her story of getting into climbing and why she’s made it her mission to get more women of color in the outdoors. Others chime in, too, talking about how important and meaningful climbing with other women of color can be, especially with organizations like Brown Girls Climb and Women’s Wilderness.
The latest updates on the fitness industry:
Peloton has a Spice Girls theme going on this week and because seeing the Spice Girls in concert in Dublin was one of the best days of my life, I feel the need to tell you about it. Check out the schedule and more info on Shape.com.
Kayla Itsines, the creator of the workout-based Sweat app, now lives in the iFit family. Working with the company, she’ll curate even more workouts, including equipment-based programs. Read more about the buy, also on Shape.com.
Reebok recently released an update to their popular Nano shoe, this time equipping it for the outdoors. Called the Nano X1 Adventure, they feature extra traction on the outsole, along with a stretchy upper and foam in the forefoot for added cushion and energy return—perfect for plyometrics.
Here’s one form cue that always resonates with clients…
These words tend to work for individuals I train as an ah-ha moment for feeling stronger in a move or activating the right muscles. I’m back to talking about the squat. Many times, people drop their chest in this exercise, leaning forward as they lower down. Watch yourself in the mirror or record yourself doing a bodyweight squat and see if this is you. Your torso should stay relatively straight up. If it’s not, consider holding a weight at your chest (you can start light or go heavy) to add a counterbalance. Or, if you’re lacking ankle mobility (which can also contribute to a forward lean) try putting your heels on a small set of dumbbells or rolled-up towels. This should allow you to sit the hips back and keep the chest tall.
One move to add to your exercise routine…
I don’t know why it’s called this besides the fact that it feels so good, but this week, try out the world’s greatest stretch. To do it, start in a downward-facing dog or plank position. Step the right foot to the outside of the right hand, full foot planted. Lift the right arm up toward the ceiling as you open your chest to the right and stack your shoulders. Hold here for a breath. Then place the foot back to plank or down-dog and repeat on the left side. Continue alternating for 30-60 seconds.
For a full workout, try…
I love following physical therapists on Insta, because they give the best movement advice and exercise options. Check out @docjenfit, @thephysiofix, and @jenhosler for a mix of ways to combat stiffness from sitting, strengthen the glutes, ease low-back aches, or improve mobility. I have to say that they do not take the place of your physical therapist (you should see one if you need one!), but they offer some great advice for sidestepping injury.
The gear I’m loving to get me out the door…
I just have to give a shout to Pearl Izumi, in general, for outfitting me this weekend. I wore their tri suit for the race (which I was nervous about at first because it was tight), but it felt like a second skin and I didn’t have to adjust it much in my seven hours of wear. I also wore their bike shoes, which felt super comfy and worked so well to conquer those rolling hills. Check ‘em out for your cycling (and tri) gear needs.
PS I’m running the NYC Marathon this year, raising money for The Fresh Air Fund, as I wrote about previously. Please support the effort by heading to my fundraising page. Any donation helps and I appreciate any and all.
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