The Training! Or: How To Train Your Matthew

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that I actually have no ideahow to train for a triathlon. I swim some, I run some, and I bike some, right? Shit, I got that right here. Run? I run like once a week. Like a mile or two. Swim? I can swim! Stroke, stroke, stroke, breathe, hell yeah I can do that all day. Bike? Yeah I can bike, I learned how, I can do like ten miles n shit!

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“He’s so misinformed!”

Hell yeah, Buddha, I was. You can’t just take pieces of workouts you can do and string them together for 15 miles. I found this out today. And it hurts.

I joined a new gym last Saturday. It’s an hour away from my house, but I knew it had pools I can use to train in and it’s 10 min from where I work. It’s a fancy mega-gym. Real nice, cafe, spa, whole 9 yards. Well, it was waaaaaay out of my comfort zone, but I needed it, and I had to do it. I was nervous though, so I started yammering, and admitted I wanted to do a triathlon.

I was immediately introduced to the tri-trainer. He’s a really nice super-jock* named Jon. ultra-nice guy, he convinced me to get there and begin training Tuesday promptly at 6 in the evening.

Wait, no, I mean 6 IN THE HELL MORNING AUGH GOD.

but I did it. Got up at 4:30 am, and was on a treadmill, getting into cardio ‘Zone 2’ before I usually had even bothered to stir out of bed.

We started with some basic jogging tread mill action. Then we bumped the incline up (admittedly, something I’d never bothered to do before. Who jogs on hills, honestly.)

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Hills? Fuck you, hills.
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Then some side-step on the treadmill action (like a crab. I looked like a sweaty, hairy crab). Some over head weight lifts, then planks, Russian twists, leg kicks, PLANKS, resistance upper-body stuff, push-ups, PLAAAAAAAANNNNNKKKSSSSFFFFFFUUUUUU, and one-legged squats (way harder than they sound), with intermittent treadmill action.

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UUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCKKKKKK

What I’m saying is, I hate planks.

I took a shower in a place that wasn’t a house for the first time in my life, and holy hell, I was so grateful it was there. Few things felt as good as that hot shower.

Then I got coffee and a wrap, and hit morning traffic on my way to the office.

And I felt great. I still feel great, 15 hours later. I’m really sore, in my feet, my hips, my abs, but I did the whole rotten thing, and didn’t need to quit. I am thinking I may have found my path.

Next session is this Thursday at 6am. Hoo, boy.

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The Admission

I’ve redoubled my efforts to watch my calorie intake and nutrition. I think I’m kinda doing okay at it, I’ve got my veggies and fruits down. I’ve cut out all red meat and pork, nearly all chicken, fish is okay though, and switched to a mostly vegetarian diet.

And it’s going incredibly well, despite what I expected. For most of my life, I was of the stupid opinion that meat has to be in every single meal, or else, it wasn’t even a meal. I changed my mind when I read an Reddit AMA with Andrew Zimmern, host of Bizarre Foods. The show, if you weren’t aware, featured Andrew touring foreign locations and exploring culture and people through food which usually was very, very different from food in the USA. (Incidentally, this happens to be my dream job).

‘apingyou’: What is your normal diet like when at home, both for food and beverage?

Zimmern: I get up in the morning and have coffee and yogurt or coffee, egg and piece of toast. Lunch typically for me is at the office and is usually Chinese food or sandwich. I’m big sandwich guy. Dinner we cook at home as a family. Roast a chicken, do a couple of vegetables and make a big salad. Throw a pork shoulder on the grill and let it roast for a few hours. We eat very simply, 3 or 4 ingredients per dish. We have a couple side dishes on our tables always. And we want our son to know that meat is not the center of every meal.

I immediately though oh my god, of course it doesn’t! Why hadn’t this occurred to me?!? I felt kind of dumb, really. Meals don’t have to have such a limited formula. That was what prompted me to cut meat out. I don’t see anything wrong someone else munching down on chicken or burgers- but it hasn’t been working for me, and I need to give something else a try, and I think it’s working out.

I’ve also cut out soda entirely. As of today, 8 days without the bubbly.

The biggest thing that I’ve realized, and the point of this post, is that I’m not addicted.

I’m not addicted to food or soda.

I thought it would be harder. I really thought that this would be a much bigger struggle. Don’t get me wrong, I still want gobs of cheese and fried onions piled on a 1/2 pound hunk of ground beef cause that shit be tasty), but I don’t have withdrawal symptoms, or moments of weakness, or any guilt, or anything.

I’m just making different choices. I just choose not to do that. I didn’t know that I could do that.

I related this revelation to a friend, and she called me ‘lucky’. That sort of hurt, to tell the truth. Sure, I might be lucky that I don’t have the struggle that she and many others have. Believe me, I understand the brain chemistry, I know how addiction works, i know thats it’s really, really hard for some people. But I’m not necessarily better off. There are reasons I adopted this belief that I was addicted.

See, I don’t really have a whole lot of faith in myself. I never have. I frequently feel like a half-person. That just sort of hangs around. I sometimes tell myself that I’m just a minor character in my own story. I’m not very interesting. I’ve never really traveled, or gone to crazy events or concerts, or done anything worth writing about.

I made it up because I wanted faults. I wanted to have something I could tell myself that made me interesting. Some struggle. I believed it, and it made it very, very easy to give in to any extravagant food choices presented. I didn’t have to worry about making the right choice, I already knew I was going to make the bad one. I didn’t share this with anyone, I never really bragged or made it a big deal, so it wasn’t so much a lie to the world as it was an excuse for me to justify what I was doing.

I still don’t think I’m much of anyone of note. I’m quite dull. But at least now, I’m willing to admit that I was only being lazy about making food choices. I’ve adjusted my diet and attitude. The best I can do is move on, and continue to improve. Or at least, try to.

The Ideal

The title of this blog seems a little abstract. I’ll explain it a little.

The phrase itself came from a good friend of mine. Most of the things that inspire me come from my friends, as you’ll learn through future entries. This friend drops a lot of nuggets like that, and I usually pick them up. He once told me “when you can’t believe in yourself, belive in me, who believes in you.” He assures me it’s from a cartoon, but thats ok, i like cartoons. It really is, to me, the single most profound thing I’ve ever heard. It’s self-confidence by proxy! And I don’t think anyone but him would’ve ever thought to quote that to me.

My friend (let’s call him Jay) has been kind enough to run with me once a week around my block, usually between one and three miles. He is thinner, lighter, stronger, and more flexible than I am, and he wears track pants, so he really looks like my personal trainer, which I’m totally okay with. He could outrun me any day, but he keeps his pace in line with mine, which he never has to do. He’s an exceptional person in many regards.

It was after one of these runs that he coined the phrase above. I think we were talking about self-improvement, our own flaws, or the human species in general, which is par for the course for us. I believe I mentioned something abut having to keep going, to stick to running, or something, and he agreed.

“We’re just in a constant state of trying harder.”

The phrase really stuck with me. I actually laughed when I heard it. Not because I thought it was silly, but because it made so much sense.

A state of trying harder.

A constant state of trying harder.

Forever striving forever reaching, constantly testing, breaking, improving. It’s an idea that I want to put faith into. There aren’t a lot of things I believe in, but I believe that of we put faith into people and ideas, it motivates us more to accomplish things.

To achieve a state of constant improvement is what I want to accomplish. And I gotta get there in order to finish a Triathlon, and whatever else after that.

Haven’t quite thought that far yet.

The Triathalon

A little more than a year ago, my best friend started a blog. It’s really interesting and insightful, and I encourage you to check it out.

She started the blog, because her friend (who is also a good friend) started a blog. It was a natural chain reaction. I saw how they got on with their stories, and thought that maybe I needed the catharsis that it provided. I tried, and I made a blog that lasted a few months. I never felt that it had the place in my life that it had in theirs, so I dropped it.

No big deal, I figure it’s happened to plenty of bloggers in the past. I need to refocus and really think about what I’m writing.

My last blog was focused on the fact that I weighed 250 pounds and couldn’t shake the weight. I still haven’t, actually, but that’s ok. This blog is probably going to have a bit of refocus on that, too. I lost track of goals. To be totally honest, I’ve never done well with goals. I never quite seem to meet them, so I don’t really set them. Or at least, I don’t commit to them. I’ve got some self-confidence issues.

But I’m trying to turn that around.

I went to FitBloggin’ 2013 a few weeks ago. Just like last year, it was fantastic. Everyone is a friend. To date, I’ve never been anywhere else that made me feel as included and welcome and comfortable. I wish every day were like that. I thank everyone there from the bottom of my stupid heart.

While I was there, Stephanie, mentioned completing a Triathalon. She said it with such nonchalance that it struck me pretty good. ‘Triathalon’ just sound(ed) like marathon. Marathons are fuckin’ scary to me. Three miles is still pretty scary, to tell the truth. Steph (I hope it’s okay if I call her that, I haven’t cleared that yet, I think it’s fine though) told me in earnest that it ain’t that hard.

“Anyone can do it.” -Steph’s words (as dictated below; thanks, grl!)

Anyone? I think I’m anyone. I think I might be, yeah.

So I’ve decided to make a goal, and do my damnedest to actually stick to it. And I’m gonna write about it here.

This is the Triathalon I’m going to do.

Lake Hickory Y Triathalon

750 meter swim, 10 miles on a bike, and 3 miles on foot. Ish.

It’s in June. It’s going to suck, of that I have no doubt. But I have some time to get ready for it.

I should probably figure out how I’m gonna get ready for it.