One Step Forwards, Two Steps Back

I think I finally have a date for the Australian team trials in November. They’re falling midway through the month and so I’ve taken a moment to sit down and take a look at where I am health wise and I’ve got to say …. Since the last time I wrote about where I was sitting, I’m not impressed!

I’ve had a few work functions and things on, and in the Sales arena, it’s quite a boozy environment. Couple that with poor food choices and over eating, and I’ve increased my weight, and my sleep schedule is completely out of whack. Mt training regime has been a little bit scattered too – I’m not managing to make it to my three weekly sessions because I’m so run down at the moment (probably from my bad food choices) and despite my boyfriend’s constant nagging I’m slowly slipping behind on where I want to be.

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So I had a bit of a chat with my boyfriend this morning and we’ve got a few strategies implemented to get me back on track again and try and maintain it until November trials.

Firstly, the nagging continues. That’s always going to be a given. The getting to training three times a week is tough because for two out of three sessions I’m paddling, and I’m just not a paddler. My body aches for days afterwards, and seizes up, so I’m either going to have to quickly get some muscle memory or invest in a large bottle of Radox bath gel.
Secondly – I need to lose 1.5kg to get back to the weight I need to be for trials. That’s going to severely reducing my alcohol intake again to practically nil, and reducing my portion sizes back to what I should realistically be eating. Oh, and licorice …. We’re going to have to break up again for a while. Sorry, friend. We had a good run though … 😦

The maintaining the weight and fitness is going to be the hardest part of all.Being in the club with the Australian team coach comes with it’s own personal expectations which I never really thought about. Being someone who has chronic fatigue, I have to learn how to manage that because I will have to turn up three times a week otherwise I will be booted from the team. No ifs, no buts. There’s going to be many tears, and many tantrums, I imagine.

I know that being an athlete is not a linear process – that you can’t always be making progress and sometimes you either have to plateau or you have to take a step back. In my case, this time it’s two steps back, but it’s better that I’ve caught this now early on in the season and I have time to sort this out before trials. It’s so easy to get caught up in every day life and not pay attention to your body and that’s exactly what I did.

So I’m going to sit outside in the sun today, and enjoy my boiled eggs and salad for lunch, before going for a brisk walk up to Typo to buy my friend a birthday card and then tonight I’ll wander off to training where the real work will begin.

Let’s do this.

Trials and Thoughts

I’m back!

Trials have now officially been and gone and now the super long wait until November begins. What’s in November, you might ask? Another selection camp. A week before my birthday too.

For me, as I mentioned, the trials were basically non-existent. I watched on as the paddlers performed their bench marking that consisted of a weigh in, kettle bells, sit ups, chin ups, bench press, and a beep test. Was I impressed? Absolutely. These guys are doing tests that there’s simply no way I could do and I am insanely grateful that all of my tests are performed on water. I don’t think I could bench press a certain percentage of my body weight (Sorry guys, confidential information as to what the percentage is), even though I’m light as a feather. Could you imagine me trying to bench press something with my grass hopper arms? I doubt I’d be able to lift the bar alone without weights on it! These guys were bench pressing a whole Rach. A whole Rach. WHAT EVEN.

Did I dodge the weigh in this time? Betcha bottom dollar I did! Though I jumped on the two sets of scales any way (to get a an average of my weight) and I can happily report that I’m right where I need to be. I just need to maintain this weight for another 3 months (eeeek!) for the selection camp and the Australian Coach should be happy.

But therein lies the challenge. You see, just down the road from where I live is a pub that does fabulous vegan nachos and jugs of mojitos and I’m a sucker for a Mexican feast, and nachos in general. Which means I eat the whole plate and sweet baby Jesus are they amazing …   #NoSelfRestraint

But the next three months health wise are critical, and I confess I’ve been dropping the ball lately. It’s going to take about three months for me to really get things back on track – that’s getting everything back into shape; my diet, eliminating 95% of alcohol from day-to-day life, figuring out how to get my sleep schedule back in order, getting back into a regular training regime, and working out my own off water training to make myself more appealing at the selection camp, and getting my mental health in check too (a great mind set is important!). I might throw in a massage every 3 weeks to keep my body in check, and I’ve implemented “Self-Care Sunday” where I sit down and do one to two things to really pay attention to myself.

Keeping healthy is key for any paddler, drummer or sweep. It’s important that we don’t burn ourselves out, so listening to our body is critical. Often we get so caught up in our training schedules that we don’t do this and this is where things start to get dangerous. It can lead to injury and sickness and time off from the sport and indeed from work respectively.

So how do we do this? How do we listen to our bodies? Before and after training sessions, looking after ourselves is a must. Nourishing our bodies with the right food is where is all begins. My Mum, or Mama K as she’s known as, always used to tell me that my body is like a car and food is fuel. The better the fuel, the better the performance of the car. Or in this case, the paddler. As much as I love my vegan nachos, I’m not going to get far on them when I’m in the boat because it’s just empty energy. Nuts, lean meat, plenty of fruit and veg, and hydration is key. Sounds simple, right? You’d be surprised how often I forget the hydration part. There’s still room for the occasional treat, but it’s all about moderation.
Stretching is just as important, but stretching correctly. Stretching before and after racing/training is a must to obviously avoid injury and warm up the body accordingly. Listening to your body in the boat is key too – if your body is hurting in a way that is hasn’t before, easing off is a good thing. And afterwards, the right recovery is important too. Baths, massages, physiotherapy if needed, compression gear … These are all useful things. I alone could pretty much keep Lush in business with the amount of bath bombs I buy fortnightly.

Three months might seem like a long time to stay focused, and in the back of my mind it feels like it’ll be an eternity. But the new dragonboat season is just kicking off next week, which means we’re back to on water training three times a week, with the first regatta coming up on the 11th September and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s my first season down here in Melbourne and I’m eager to see how different it is compared to Canberra. The first difference already is that you get to go away for regattas – The first one isn’t in Docklands, it’s in Geelong I think, so I’m packing my stuff and some mates into a car and road tripping it to Geelong for the day! Kind of excited 🙂
I’ll definitely keep you guys posted about the regattas and provide some pictures.

Ok, I think I’ve rambled enough for this morning!

Until next time,

Rach x