So, I had a plan to write about how to take up running as a beginner, with the intention of putting my money where my mouth is and doing what I teach. Then I remembered that I said I would rather cut my legs off than run. So, instead of sounding like a hypocrite, I decided to talk to someone that actually does run, and get her advice.
Luckily, I’m friends with Wonder Woman.
I met Marla about nine months ago, because she and her husband are on a sailing team with my husband, and I am constantly in awe of everything she accomplishes in her life. She has a full time job as an engineer, she’s a mom to a gorgeous one year old, and she’s
a serial triathlete. She has been racing in Sprint Triathlons since 2009, and she usually competes in 3 triathlons every summer. Even having a baby didn’t slow her down much, since she qualified for the Worlds Triathlon when she was three months pregnant, and competed at Worlds in Mexico when her baby was six months old.
For those who aren’t aware, a Sprint Triathlon consists of a 750 metre (0.5 mile) swim, a 20 kilometre (12.4 mile) bike and a 5 kilometre (3.1 mile) run. This is the shortest distance for a triathlon, while the longest distance is an Ironman, with a 3.8 kilometre (2.4 mile) swim, 180 kilometre (112 mile) bike and a 42.195 kilometre (26.2 mile) run. No matter what kind of triathlon a person chooses to run, its an impressive feat.
Marla was kind enough to sit down with me for a few minutes and answer some of my questions about what women can do to make fitness a part of their busy lives, in amongst jobs, children and household responsibilities.
How do you manage to do it all?
Training with a baby isn’t easy, but I make it work by scheduling it into my day and sticking to that schedule. Biking and running are easier because I can bring baby with me and push her in the chariot or pull her behind me on my bike, and now it’s the only way she’ll nap! Swimming is a little trickier because I can’t bring her with me, but I try to make a schedule that I can stick to. I ask for help from friends and family. You would be amazed at how many people step up to help when they learn about what you’re doing. You just need to learn to be flexible with your babies.
What do you do on the days when you just aren’t feeling a work out?
Just let it go! You can’t have perfect days all the time. Don’t beat yourself up over a missed workout. Remember that every time you train you make yourself better, and missing a workout doesn’t undo your hard work, you just won’t be progressing.
What advice do you have for mothers that are wanting to be more active?
One thing that isn’t addressed enough is pelvic floor issues after childbirth, and all women experience it. It happens to all of us, and it’s hard to run, or train in general, when you have to worry about peeing your pants. Work on strengthening your pelvic floor before and after having a baby. It’s very important. There is lots of information out there about strengthening your pelvic floor and we all need to be more upfront about what a problem it is for women.
Find out your “why”. Why do you want to train, and why you aren’t training. Find your motivation, and you’ll find ways to make it work.
Are triathlons expensive?
They’re as expensive as you want them to be. A person can do their first race on a mountain bike, get hooked, and then end up spending close to ten thousand on a road bike. You don’t need to though! I did my first race in a bathing suit and a pair of shorts; I ran, biked and swam in that. All you really need is a bike, a helmet, running shoes and a swimming suit. You can get good quality gear without spending a ton of money.
How long should a person train before a race?
Everybody is different. I was already running, biking and swimming before I decided to do my first race. My friend and I just decided to do it to see if we could, and we didn’t actually try doing it all at once until two weeks before the event! But, I also have a friend who didn’t know how to swim and she taught herself how within six months in order to race. It’s totally possible! I would say for someone that is completely new to all three of the sports, three to six months of dedicated training will prepare you. It all depends on your own personal fitness level, though.
What about the people that are just too busy?
If you really want to make it happen, you need to change your wording from “I don’t have the time” to “I didn’t make it a priority”. I know what it’s like: after a busy day of taking care of a tiny person, you’re tired and you just want some time to yourself. If you really want to accomplish this, though, you’re going to have to make it a priority.
What are the best foods to eat before a race?
I usually do a bowl of oatmeal, and a banana! Definitely do what you’re used to, eat something that’s easy on the stomach but don’t change up your routine for race day. If your regular breakfast is a bowl of cereal, or eggs and toast, then stick to it! Unfamiliar foods on race day can make you feel sick and make everything harder.
What does your training schedule look like?
I’ll do two workouts per sport every week. That would be two swims, two bikes and two runs, and then I’ll do one “brick”, which is a bike followed immediately by a run. That’s an hour a day. And one hour out of twenty four is such a small portion of your day, anybody can fit that in.
What should people know if they’re intimidated by their first race?
Your race is for you, and no one else! Set your own goal, decide what you’re running for, whether it’s to beat your personal best or to just finish. I ran my first triathlon just to finish. Just to see if I could. It isn’t about who crosses the finish line first.
What is the most important thing you think women should know about triathlons?
There are three important things:
Strengthen your pelvic floor – it’s important for your overall health
Make your workouts a priority – dedicate yourself to the challenge
Schedule your training into your day – and then show up to those work outs!
If you’re a mother to small children, and you’re wondering if it’s possible to be more active in your daily life, Marla and I are here to tell you that it is possible! You don’t necessarily need to run a triathlon, but if you’re making your physical fitness a priority, you can accomplish anything! Now, get out there and show the world how it’s done!