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Purpose Sticks

 

While going around to the various road races this summer, I found something very interesting to me. That was the stories of how people begin. Many of us know that sometimes starting new things can be hard not only physically, but mentally. Making something a habit is not easy. The best way that I have found to do this is to hold myself accountable for my goal. This is usually by sticking some sort of reminder right out in front of my face. That is how we came up with Purpose Sticks collection.

Basically you take which ever Purpose Sticks that meets your goal, say 13.1 you put it on your calendar, insert it in the edge of your mirror or any other crazy place that you sit and stare at. Then when you feel very unmotivated you’ll be forced notice your goal, and you’ll remember why it is you started. This will hold you accountable for your goal. Then when you meet this goal of yours, you take the sticker and slap it on your car, your water bottle or whatever else and you proudly show off your accomplishment.

Ideas of where to post it for motivation maximization:

  • Fridge
  • Mirror
  • Bathroom wall
  • Bedroom wall
  • On your office calendar
  • Prop it up on your lap top
  • Outside a cupboard door
  • Anywhere you look every day

Ideas of where to sport it once you’ve met your goal:

  • Car
  • Laptop
  • Water bottle
  • Your shirt for the day (they don’t go through the wash well) J
  • Your motorcycle
  • Your kayak
  • Golf cart
  • Lunch box
  • Trapper keeper
  • Anywhere! Just let it be known, you’re awesome!
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Gearing Up

I often hear people advocate running as an ideal exercise activity because the gear required to participate is minimal: all you need is a pair of shoes. Avid runners, however, know this isn’t quite the case. We need specific shorts, tops, and socks to run comfortably. Winter requires another set of clothing and accessories entirely. A good watch and water bottle are also helpful, as are rehab tools like foam rollers. So when it comes to triathlons, where three disciplines are involved instead of one, one can imagine how much gear (and expense!) is involved.

If we go back to the minimalist model, one could say triathlons require three pieces of equipment: a swimsuit, a bike, and running shoes. Though I had all of these items, when I actually started training and preparing for my first triathlon, I realized I need more than just these basics.

To train for the swim portion, I swam a few days a week at the Y. I had a swimsuit, a swim cap, and goggles, which are about all you need to swim in an indoor pool. Triathlon swims take place in open water, however, without the luxury of lane lines, clear/calm water, and heat. Because of that last fact, and the fact that the Detroit River averages about 65 degrees this time of year, I decided to invest in a wetsuit.

Triathletes often wear wetsuits during the swim portion of a race for two reasons. The suits keep them warm in often frigid open water and provide a bit of buoyancy to help power through the water. Triathlon wetsuits are made out of neoprene like those for scuba diving or surfing, but are more lightweight and designed to allow the athlete more freedom of movement. I was lucky casino real money enough to find a good deal on an introductory wetsuit from Xterra for only $99.

The next portion, the bike, obviously requires a bicycle (and a helmet, as races usually require all participants to wear one). Serious triathletes spend thousands of dollars on triathlon-specific bicycles that put the rider in an aerodynamic position and often feature super lightweight carbon frames. Local races will feature these hardcore athletes as well as the first-timer riding his mountain bike or 1970s era Schwinn and everything in between. I already had a decent Giant road bike, but in order to get the most out of it, I decided to make the transition to clipless pedals.

Serious (and even semi-serious) cyclists use clipless pedals to generate more power on the bike and keep themselves pedaling smoothly. Because their shoes actually attach to the bike while they’re riding, they can push and pull with each pedal stroke.  It’s somewhat confusing that “clipless” shoes actually mean shoes that clip into the pedals, but the etymology of that term is a history lesson for another day.

Basically, to get riding clipless, I had to have three things: cycling shoes, a cleat that attaches to the cycling shoes (it’s the piece that actually clips into the pedal) and the pedals themselves. There are a few different systems of cleats and pedals that work together, and at a triathlon you will see different athletes using different systems because it is mostly personal preference. In order to save money, I borrowed some old pedals and cleats from my dad. I did buy new cycling shoes, and chose to go with road shoes that were triathlon specific (they have features that make them easier to get into and out of quickly in transition).

The wetsuit and the cycling shoes/pedals/cleats were the biggest purchases for my first triathlon, but I also bought a pair of triathlon shorts (kind of like bike shorts, but less padding and quicker drying), which are more expensive than one might think. Of course gear is only part of the equation when it comes to a triathlon (training being way more important!), but with my new equipment I felt more prepared on my quest to become a triathlete.

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Why Triathlon? By Jen Hamilton

In college, I was on the varsity cross country and track teams. However, I probably spent approximately 90% of my career on the injured list, battling nearly every lower limb problem you can imagine. From a stress fracture in my shin to knee problems to IT band ailments and chronic inflammation that seemed to have neither cause nor cure, I discovered that my body was much more breakable than I had ever imagined.

I battled back from my injuries as best as I could throughout the duration of my time at Michigan State. I was determined to finish my full tenure as a college athlete, though I knew I would not be able to train or compete at that intensity again after it was done. When I couldn’t run, I spent my practice times in the pool, on the elliptical, and occasionally, on a stationary bike to maintain my fitness. Through these activities, I quickly realized I had a new goal in mind for my post-collegiate self: triathlon.

Triathlon. Most people these days know what that word means. A race that consists of a swim, bike, and run, in that order, from short distances called sprints all the way up to the legendary Ironman (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run. No sweat, right?). To me, that word meant something new and challenging to strive for.

Let me make it perfectly clear that I am no cyclist and certainly no swimmer. I’m not much of an athlete in general, one of those runners who became a runner because I was terrible at every other sport I tried. The last time I took swim lessons I was probably 8 (I don’t even know how to dive), and though I became an expert at maneuvering my mountain bike through campus, intense road cycling never really appealed to me. However, once the idea struck it stuck, and I decided that after college I would try a triathlon.

I am now in my second summer post-college, and I decided during the winter that it was now or never for triathlon training, and I would aim to do my first one this June. Because I am a runner first and foremost, in March I began trying to get myself into running shape, though only running five days a week at about half the mileage I did in college. That’s one of the aspects that appealed to me the most about triathlons—training has to be divided among three disciplines, thereby reducing the volume of training for each and decreasing the risk of injury. Around that time I also started adding in spinning class at the Y (road cycling being out of the question due to the weather) and swimming one or two times a week.

I’ve been training for a few months now, and still I don’t feel even close to prepared. I’m sure a lot of it is fear of the unknown, and my training most definitely has not been perfect. When you have to motivate yourself and work around a full-time job, it’s easy to slack more than you should. It’s equally easy to worry about things like not being able to unclip your pedals and swimming in a dark, seaweed-filled lake (more on those things in my next post).

But as of right now, I have set my sights on the Motor City Triathlon, which takes place June 12 at Belle Isle in Detroit. I plan on doing the sprint distance, which is a 500 meter swim (approximately 550 yards), 12.43 mile bike, and 3.4 mile run. I have only two weeks to go and I’m scared out of my mind, but I know it will be worth it in the end.