If I could tell the world just one thing….

It would be:

Take the wrist straps off your paddles!

But, luckily, I can tell the world more than just one thing. Because the world is a place where I can have a blog and on my blog I can write as much as I want! Booyah.

Between heading to Tucson to help coach camps, training with my own peers, and just a general increase in time of coach-athlete communication with the season starting up, I’ve been around -or speaking with – athletes a lot lately. As much as everyone likes to think we’re all unique…..we actually aren’t all that different a lot of the time. Turns out, most people have the same fears, insecurities, rationalizations….the list goes on. I sat down to think of a few, and offer my advice. Beginning with the wrist straps. When you remove them, you might slow down at first as you have to correct your stroke and actually learn to swim properly without them. But then, you get used to it, and you get better. It might slow you down temporarily, but it’s a good way to get faster long-term.

Some insight on sleep….. As training ramps up for everyone, we also become quite conscious of how tired we are. And, we’re bombarded by those pesky reminders everywhere telling us that sleep and rest is the key to getting faster, right?! So when my alarm goes off for my early training session, but I feel tired, I should just sleep in, right? Um yeah, no. First off – everyone is tired! That’s part of the deal. In fact, that’s an important part of the process, feeling tired. You shouldn’t feel fresh every day that you train for an triathlon. But more importantly, if you physically can’t bear to get out of bed on time in the morning, it’s not the wake time up that’s the issue – more likely it’s the bedtime. Or the diet. Or something else going on. Skipping sessions (especially with training partners) for just 30 more minutes of sleep, 99% of the time, isn’t going to fix anything. As with anything, there are exceptions. But, odds are, you’re not an exception.

I’ve never had to scold an athlete for over-eating during workouts. About once a day though, I remind athletes to eat more during training. Eat more if you want to do endurance sports for many years. That is all.

I started doing some strength training when I was in Tucson. On Day 1, I literally couldn’t do a side plank. I realize this makes no sense, but it’s true. I could do back-to-back, sub-10 hour Ironmans. But not a side plank. A month later I’m happy to report I’m a side planking machine. Remember that the next time you can’t do something. Everyone can’t do it all. But you can work hard, and you can learn. And the body adapts. Trust the process. Luckily, side planks were a shorter process….most times we’re not that lucky.

Balance? What balance? Yeah…Kelly touched on this the other day and it really got me thinking. As training picks up I inevitably also see a lot of people struggling to “find the balance.” Struggling, desperately at times, to which is (I believe) intensified because social media makes it look like somehow every other triathlete has found it, except you.

I’m here to tell you today: they are full of shit. Or, maybe they aren’t full of shit. Maybe they are full of really, really good genetics that don’t require that much training, which in turn allows them to have some sort of free time and therein, balance can be achieved. But, this is not the norm. For many people, triathlon is more than a hobby. And we love it that way. Whether it’s a job or a passion, if you have big goals, it might require that you treat it as a ginormous project. And you know what happens when ginormous projects are taken on? Imbalance.

Since I left my corporate job, I’ve become more relaxed, I do get *some* more sleep, I’m eating healthier. But, I’m not balanced. I want to be great at this sport. And to do that, I need to spend a lot of freaking time training, and resting, and not taxing my body doing other activities that push me into physical (and mental! And emotional!) fatigue. Luckily for me, the imbalance isn’t usually all too apparent. My closest friends are triathletes and I surround myself with people who don’t give me a hard time for pursuing what I love so much that the balance is never there. But, let’s make one thing clear: we all know my life is imbalanced for this sport. It’s just part of the deal with what I want to achieve. And if you need to be imbalanced while you pursue your goals too, I support that. That imbalanced life has made me the happiest I’ve ever been.

Training won’t be perfect.  It’s just not going to be. No one nails every workout and no one feels great training all the time. If you don’t enjoy the hard part of it all, this sport is going to be even more tough for you. End of story.

But seriously, if nothing else, you should probably take the wrist straps off your paddles.

Published by Alyssa Godesky

Alyssa is a professional triathlete who has logged over 8,000 miles in competition of swimming, biking and running across five continents. She came to triathlon from an ultrarunning background and over the last few years has found success back on the trails: in 2018 she set the female supported Fastest Known Time (FKT) on Vermont's 273 mile Long Trail in 5 days, 2 hours and 37 minutes. In 2020 she set the women's supported FKT for climbing the 46 High Peaks in the Adirondacks in 3 days, 16 hours and 16 minutes. She is a triathlon and running coach, and also enjoys spending time guiding hikers out on the trails. Alyssa is based in Charlottesville, VA with her dog Ramona.

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