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Doing More Right Than Wrong


I'm a champ at beating myself up over "not doing it right," so much so that this phrase infuriates me. It's a recurring theme in my healing from PTSD.


A couple of years ago, my daughter introduced me to the idea of a BHAG, a "big, hairy, audacious goal." Hers was to do a Jackie Chan push-up, which means doing a push-up from a handstand position.


At the time, I immediately had the thought, "I could do a triathlon," followed almost instantly by another thought, "Hell, NO. Big pile of nope, no gracias, pass, hard pass." Or words to that effect—the feeling is definitely there. And I talked myself out of it almost as soon as the idea had occurred to me.


Then I struggled trying to come up with a BHAG that set me on fire. And failed.


Fast forward a couple of years. A few more years of desultory workouts, a few more years of beating myself up and trying so hard not to beat myself up, a few more years of yearning wistfully for I knew not what. Earlier this year I decided I would quit fretting about it (as this idea popped into my head every few months) and just fucking try it. I mean, what do I have to lose, right? And a triathlon appeals to all of my macho tendencies and my competitive streak, while also allowing me to compete against myself. It includes swimming, my favorite way to exercise. I don't know why it appeals to me so much, even, it just does.


Once I decided I would train for a triathlon, my approach to exercise and the gym shifted overnight. Instead of having a goal to get more exercise, the gym is only the means toward the triathlon. Exercise is just a step on the road to a triathlon. It was a game changer for me.

Along the way, I've checked out training apps, online stories and books about triathlon training, and I picked one up for a dime at a thrift store about a week ago, and read through it yesterday. Imagine my surprise when the book introduces itself by asking if I am old and fat and telling me that does't matter. I agree.


Next, this book laid out initial steps to prepare for training, and I almost fell out of my cozy bed to notice that right down the line, these are the steps I've been implementing.


Mainly, get exercise and don't make it punitive. I have a nicely established morning routine that includes a dance workout and stretching. Also, start with baby steps and don't get gung ho right out of the gate. That one was a no-brainer for me. I no longer push myself into injury like I might have done when I was younger. I'm much better at listening to my body now.


If you fall off the schedule, dust yourself off just like you would if you fell off the bike and keep on going.


And the thing that probably excited me most of all was the advice about nutrition and diet. Almost all exercise programs I've seen are clueless or worse about nutrition, but this book advocates a whole food diet and suggests ways to tailor carb intake for maximum training benefit.


When I started to think about a triathlon, my first idea was no way can I do this. Then I started to try out the events individually, and pretty soon I thought, I CAN do this. Maybe not fast, but I am capable of stringing these three events together and completing them all. After reading this book, I'm now certain that I can accomplish this, and I'm excited about getting more intentional about the whole thing. My goal is to complete a sprint triathlon before September 30, 2020.

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