Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Reflecting on 2013 can help you plan for 2014

The end of the first month of 2014 is near. How many of you have kept your New Year’s resolutions? How many of you even remember what they were? I find it is easy for these dreams and aspirations of better health, increased fitness, balanced personal life, etc. to fall by the way side. January is a hard month to make changes. The days are short, the temperatures are cool; who wants to go to the gym after work when it will be dark when they leave? And a warm plate of macaroni and cheese is so much more comforting on a chilly winter’s night than a salad and lean protein.

yes please!
Still, I am a big believer in setting goals. And the hype and freshness of a new calendar year provides a good opportunity to take the time to identify what I want to focus on in the upcoming months. To start this process, I like to think back about the previous year. What goals got marked as “achieved” and which ones fell in to the “not quite there” category? It’s okay to not have met all your goals for the year. If you did achieve all you set out to accomplish, maybe you didn’t dream big enough?

Besides just marking “completed” or “not completed” on what you planned in 2013, think about what brought you happiness, stress, disappointment, fulfillment, etc. Maybe you didn’t get that marathon PR you were hoping for, but you made a good friend while training for it. Or maybe you did get the PR, but you were so stressed about the race, you failed to acknowledge your accomplishment. Remember, we can learn from both our successes and disappointments (maybe even more from our disappointments).

Did anything surprise you during the year, whether in sports, professionally, or personally? Perhaps the Sunday dinners at your in laws that you used to dread have become a treasured time to spend with family. Or maybe those extra running miles you logged didn’t lead to any improvements in your running times. Write both the positive and negatives down, as both can shape your plans for 2014.

Lastly, take time to acknowledge what you are grateful for. Whether it’s the Bubble at Myers Park, which allows us to swim when it’s cold enough to snow, or the spouse who runs the vacuum while you’re out riding your bike, be sure to show your appreciation.

It may be hard to breathe in here, but at least it lets us swim on cold mornings

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Successful Multitasker AJ Rhodes

Like many triathletes, AJ Rhodes is a driven athlete, student, and professional, managing to be successful in all aspects of his life. The first Tallahassee finisher at this year’s Tri the Rez, Rhodes finds time for high quality training while working full time and pursuing his studies at Florida State. How is he able to coordinate his busy schedule?

“Efficiency and planning” Rhodes states. “Trading volume for intensity. Every workout has purpose. Just as in a single workout you have a pattern of work and rest, so it is in a day, week, month, semiannually, annually, etc. There are times of the year when things are really structured, and there are times of the year when it's just like ‘go out and do whatever you feel like.’”

Rhodes believes taking the time to exercise each day makes him a more productive person. “Getting in my workout helps me to blow off steam and I am a firm believer that it actually makes me more focused throughout the day” he states.

Focusing mostly on team sports in high school, Rhodes did not discover triathlon until college.  He started swimming to keep in shape for surfing. He discovered triathlon after a friend told him about training for Red Hills exclusively at the Leach Center.  “I scored a used bike off a guy in Havana, signed up for my first tri (Beach Blast Olympic, 2009) and have been hooked ever since,” Rhodes remembers.

Rhodes counts Red Hills and Six Gap Century as his favorite races. He’s hoping Augusta 70.3 and Six Gap will one day be held on different dates, as he’s always wanted to do Augusta, but chooses Six Gap instead.

Due to his full schedule, Rhodes prefers shorter workouts with a focus on intensity. He’s also noticed that “inserting intensity seems to make the time go by faster, especially on the bike trainer or treadmill.” He counts running as his weakness, but feels he thrives in hectic situations.

Rhodes has several words of wisdom for those new to the sport, among them “don't get overwhelmed by gear; the most important thing is the engine. Prioritize rest as much as workouts. Figure out why you train and race. Actually write it down.”

All in all, Rhodes hopes to continue to enjoy training and racing and not get burned out. “I think everybody should spend time each week doing something they enjoy and that brings fulfillment, even if it doesn’t come to anything but that. It could be photography, writing/blogging, cooking, playing music, reading, woodworking, hiking, web design, etc. That's not to say that setting goals is not useful or laudable, just that achieving goals is much more fulfilling if the process is enjoyable. If it is not that, then we need to step back and reevaluate why we are doing ‘fill in the blank.’”