Friday, December 07, 2007

Birthday Reflections

Well, I haven't been blogging much lately, but that has to do with lots of fun adventures and not a lot of training on my mind. While it can get very frustrating gain back a couple pounds and think that you're not 'doing enough' because you're not training 12 hours/week, it's also really REALLY nice to just relax.

Who says you can't exercise on vacation? Hiking about 15 miles outside of Ensenada...

Relax as in...
-not wearing a watch
-not checking email
-spending time with friends and family
-drinking two glasses of wine and not feeling guilty
-indulging from time to time (in moderation, of course!)
-not be neurotic about oversleeping or missing a workout
-taking time to do 'other' things on my to-do list that got put aside during tri season
-doing more yoga

Why is this so important to me? One thing that yoga has taught me over the past year is how important it is to quiet the mind. I think for many of us, our minds are constantly going at 150 mph. I know mine does. I'm always thinking, whether it's about what to make for dinner, what my workouts are going to be, what I've got to do over the next week, etc. etc. During my yoga practice, I work really hard (not always successful , but I try) to try and just quiet my mind.

One thing a fantastic yoga instructor once said that has really helped me out was:
"You know how your mind leaps from one thing to the next? You have one thought after another. Instead of just trying to silence those thoughts, try to focus on the space between thoughts, and staying there, in that space."

It's really hard to do, but it gives me a place to start.

What does relaxation and calming the mind have to do with birthday reflections? Well, my friend Devon is really introspective in her race reports, and writes a lot about how much of a mental experience her races are (she does ultra-distance running). I believe this too, and know how powerful our minds can be, not just in a race, but in our training and in our everyday lives.

As I turn a year older, I am inclined to want to focus a little more on my mental strength and nurture it. While I know I still have a young body, I can still sense things that have changed since I was, say, 24. No, I'm not complaining! Older people tend to want to say "ah, whatever! You're still young!" Yes, but while I'm young, why not make changes now that will keep me stronger for a longer time? As the body changes and recovery doesn't come as quick as it used to, it becomes increasingly more important for us to remain strong mentally and do what we need to do to take care of our bodies.

I picked up a great book called Yoga Anatomy and it describes many of the common yoga positions and illustrates which muscles are primarily and secondarily used, as well as which organs are affected in some of the sitting poses. It's a really interesting glimpse of what yoga can truly do for our bodies as well as our minds.

No, this isn't a big push for yoga! I just think that over the next year, I'd like to spend more time with yoga and make it a more prominent part of my training, even if I have to sacrifice a few more things to create time for it. It's become such a relaxing and helpful part of my week, and I think I'm ready to commit to it more than once a week.

For my Thanksgiving Day workout, instead of doing a bike ride, I met up with my friends Anna & David and we went to a yoga session where we did 108 Sun Salutations!!! Talk about SORE HAMSTRINGS - I was sore for about 4 days. That's a reason right there to do more yoga. :)

Finally, my 28th year is going to bring a lot of things to my plate. I need to be mentally ready to handle it for all of the goals I have. I am about to start planning my year in the next few weeks and come January, it's going to be time to TAKE OFF!!

Goals include:
-making a true year-plan for training and races (this means picking out all of my races NOW and sticking to that list)
-qualifying for Clearwater 70.3 Championships
-doing the Terrible Two in under 16 hours
-training smart and not overtraining
-staying mentally tough
-not getting burned out

That's a preliminary list. Note, those are all athletic goals and don't include professional and personal goals. I try to keep this blog mainly about triathlon, since that IS the subject. :)

Am I excited about turning another year older? HELL YES! I say, live it up and don't look back! Happy Birthday to me!!

Relaxing in L.A. with my sister!


ace said...

I've been doing yoga for about 2 years now. The changes in my body are evident. I have more strength and endurance because of it. But the changes in my mind and in my life are what really kept me doing it. The quiet space you start to cultivate in yoga seems to slowly creep into the other areas of your life. At least that is how I experience it. Everything seems to just slow down and get better. And instead of having thoughts flash around while I'm at class now it is as if my body speaks to me -- telling me what to eat, or how much rest I should get, or sometimes to just breath and enjoy the pose.

Anyway, Happy Birthday, and I enjoyed reading your blog.

Train well...

Liz Hatch said...

Hey Sarah! I have your card sitting in front of my face and kept meaning to get a hold of you. Let's meet up for a ride for sure. Hope you had a good Christmas. As for my blog entry, not sure where I found it... Been sitting on my computer for a bit and thought I'd use it cause it cracks me up! ;) Steal it all you want!

Cristi said...

Happy belated birthday Sarah! I like your attitude about taking time to relax and not feeling guilty about it. Sorry I fell off the face of the earth. Lots of responsibilities and distractions in my life. Here's my new email: (the old account expired since I'm not a student anymore).
Cheers to 2008! ~Cristi