I am SO READY for the offseason to be here. If it wasn’t for my pesky mechanical DNF at London a few weeks ago, I would already be swanning around and enjoying the “no race is on the horizon” feeling. Instead I am daydreaming about what comes next, while putting in the work to get across the finish line on Sunday.
Although I’m not *just* daydreaming. Dreams need actions to become reality.
Way back in the summer of 1991 the seeds of a dream were planted. Mind you, they were only at that stage a dream, because never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I was physically capable of transforming that dream into a reality.
The dream? To get strong like Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2. Her character Sarah Connor had this awesome physical and mental strength… I wanted that.
I mean, who doesn’t want to be a badass like that? Oh yeah, and able to do 5 million pull ups like the opening scene. And kill terminators. Yep. I wanted that.
But I just did not think I would ever be able to develop it. I had spent an entire lifetime being discouraged from sports – either by doctors, or by my abyssmal performance, or by my parents who encouraged me to focus on “what I was good at” – which was nothing athletic!
But in 2007, when climbing the stairs at home had become a chore which made my legs feel heavy and Frankenstein like, I knew that I had to change. I wasn’t quite sure how, but I knew in my heart that if I embraced being active I would feel stronger, more stable, more ABLE. Slowly but surely, and in particular since 2009 when I had my “come to Jesus” fitness self-realisation moment, I have built up my abilities and my confidence in my body.
I had a pretty straight forward belief when I decided to do a triathlon – that the training would help me to get strong in order to stay strong. In my heart, I knew that unless I built up my strength, I could lose it forever. For many years though I avoided the actual strength training. I just couldn’t find the motivation within myself to get it done. I found lifting weights daunting, and a bit boring. But at the start of 2012 I resolved to change my approach and joined a 30 minute twice a week bootcamp. I finally found a format that worked for me – a small group fast paced class with lots of variety in exercises. And I started to feel stronger and more stable – more ABLE – than ever.
One of the things that I have learned this season is that I need to plan out my training, so that I give my body a chance to recovery from intensity. I scaled back my bootcamp to once a week only during the “in season”. And I have been wondering about an optimal day to do a second session of bootcamp. With my training patterns I decided to look for a bootcamp on a Saturday to slot into my “off season” plans.
This weekend I attended a new class. I “interviewed” the instructors before signing up, just to know what I was getting myself into – and of course to let them know about my challenges and my goals. Although I was mentally prepared for the session, I have to say that physically this was probably the hardest fitness session I have ever done, and certainly the most intense. A few years ago I would have never dreamed of attending a session like this. I just didn’t consider myself ABLE enough. But now? Now my approach is different – I realise that for strength work it has to be a me versus me approach. I work with the instructors to help them to understand my specific challenges. I modify the hell out of the exercises, to find something that pushes me without breaking me. And I commit to the sessions. 100%.
Man oh man. Saturday was tough. Tough in the best possible way. Even my forearms are dead today – two days after the session. But without pushing myself – sensibly, carefully, but nevertheless pushing hard and feeling sore – I know won’t reach my dream of becoming Linda Hamilton strong. Dreams need action to come true.
Gratuitous sweaty forearm shot, not from Saturday, but to show you something that I have just noticed – my forearms are skinny in the same pattern as my calves, highlighting to me the equal impact that CMT is having on my peripheral muscles in both my arms and legs. I am fairly certain I have the same amount of forearm atrophy as calf atrophy. No wonder my arms are tired from Saturday! And by the way, I had to include a sweaty photo right? Because without a sweaty photo the hard work never happened, did it?
Watch out terminator. And look out off-season. I’m coming for you!