Julie Erdmann blogs through her stick figure alter ego, TriGirl, at Tri-ing to be Athletic. She pairs her descriptions of her training with drawings to highlight the finer points of her adventures. Never known for her grace or her athletic prowess, Julie decided that her mid-30s were the perfect time to succumb to peer pressure and sign up for a sprint triathlon. She bought a bike, then learned to ride it. She splashed around in the pool using a stroke no one would describe as freestyle; however, it was very abstract. She discovered a natural affinity for running and that has been her best sport for the past 3 years. She is slowly learning to swim, and to ride her bike without crashing. Despite the challenges, she is thoroughly enjoying the new experiences that training brings her.
What is your favorite part about running? I have found new limits, and have pushed through them. It makes me rethink all those times I say, “Oh, I could never do that,” because I was never a runner either. I feel free.
How many races have you completed? I have completed 3 half-marathons and 3 sprint triathlons, along with a couple of 5ks. I am very new to racing as I started in 2010.
What advice would you give someone interested in participating in his/her first race? Read about races to find out what to expect. It’s good to learn about basic race etiquette and simple how-tos. For example, in my first half marathon I started in the middle of the pack and quickly got passed by all but FOUR people. I know; I checked. Will you know how to get that little cup of water from the volunteers? Do you really know what carbo-loading means? (I still don’t.) If you’re doing a triathlon, you’ll want to know how to set up your transition area along with the little logistics. Do not let it overwhelm you. Give yourself time to prep for the race and remember that you’re doing it to have fun! It’s the cherry on top of the training you’ve done, so try not to let your nerves get the best of you. Races are full of supportive volunteers and like-minded people who are out to have a good time; ride the wave of energy. And take every high five you are offered. They are infused with happiness and racing mojo.
What is your best training tip? Do something you like. Don’t take up running just because you hear it’s good exercise if the thought of it makes you want to poke your eyes out. That said, I used to hate running until I could run 3 miles without stopping. It got much easier after that and then it started to feel good. Also, I am a strong advocate for cross-training. It reduces your risk of repetitive strain injuries, keeps exercise fresh, and builds your endurance.
What keeps you motivated? New races, further distances, increased skill and training buddies keep me going. Sometimes I love working out on my own and just getting that time to myself. Other times, I need the bonding time with my running buddy (who has become my best friend)! I love how strong I feel when I run, and I’m constantly surprising myself with how far I can run. Next goal: MARATHON!!
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