This Runner's Trials
28Apr/1123

Infertility Myth: You’re Alone

Posted by runnerstrials

The myth: you're alone. The truth: you're not.

Happy National Infertility Awareness Week :)

Resolve, the National Infertility Association, is holding a "bust an infertility myth" challenge.

There are a host of myths surrounding infertility. I'm not even going to get into the whole "just relax" nonsense. But there is a certain myth that I think a lot of us infertiles struggle with.

When I first learned I couldn't get pregnant without medical help (you can read more about my diagnoses- PCOS and endometriosis- here), I struggled with a lot of emotions. At first I was in denial, then scared, and then came the deep sadness that I still carry with me. Unfortunately there have also been many moments sprinkled with anger, jealousy, and shame.

I never wanted to be a part of this battle and I hate that I am. At first, the worst thing was that I felt like I was the only one on this team. Pregnant women, new moms, heck even women who simply menstruated seemed to surround me.

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I was alone.

But that's just a myth.

Unfortunately, one in 8 women know exactly how I feel. Every time I see this number, I shudder. I can't believe there are so many people on my team.

Once I started opening up about my problems, I felt a small weight lifted off my shoulders. It felt so good to get my feelings out there.

Talking with my family and friends really, really helped me. But connecting with the others like me helped so much more.

Meeting people who felt the same exact way I did filled such an amazing void. I learned that seemingly endless crying fits, giving pregnant women dirty looks, hating my body, and other crazy emotions were actually completely normal. We could be sad for each other but so relieved we weren't the only ones fighting infertility. And when you learn a fellow infertile gets pregnant, you'll still feel a pang of the "why not me's" but you'll also be filled with hope.

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My plea to my fellow infertiles is to know you're not alone. Please seek out support from others, especially others like you. If you don't know anyone in real life, look for a support group, read blogs, or hit up twitter. I promise there are people out there just like you, and connecting with them will really help.

I'll never know the reason why I had to fight for my fertility. But infertility taught me an amazing lesson: people are good. People want to help you and genuinely care about you. I'll never ever forget the support I've gotten from others- both real life loved ones and internet friends. I can't believe I ever underestimated the awesome power of human compassion. I can never thank them enough.

This journey has taught me that no matter what you're facing, you're never alone. Whatever you're going through, no matter how "shameful" it may feel, please open up and share your feelings with someone.

To learn more about infertility please check out these incredible resources:

What is Infertility?

National Infertility Awareness Week

 

17Apr/119

Try to Tri: Biking for runners

Posted by runnerstrials

Believe it or not, the thought of biking held me back from doing a triathlon more than my inability to swim well. In theory, I love biking. I've been taking spin classes since college and I find biking on a path quite enjoyable. But there are no bike paths in Charlotte. To train for a triathlon, I had to "share the road" with cars and trucks, which was terrifying.

Even though I have two tris under my belt, I'm still not completely over this fear. (I sobbed hysterically on my bike during my Olympic tri.)

That being said, I am not a good person to give you tips on biking. But this crazy cyclist who I married is :)

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Jeff here. Or maybe you know me better as "Hubby" or "Ironman". I've been cycling competitively for 11 years… and shaving my legs for 6 years. If you crash, having less hair on your legs minimizes risk for infection.

Cycling is my favorite part of triathlons. It also happens to be the sport I'm best at so maybe that's why. I just love the feeling of going fast and seeing so much in such a short amount of time. You see a lot more than you do while running. Just saying…

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I hope these steps will help you on the road to training for the bike portion of the triathlon:

1. Get a bike. If you're just starting out triathlon-ing, don't invest in a pricey bike. I've seen plenty folks use mountain bikes for sprint tris and that's fine. You'll be much slower than if you used a road bike, but it's still fine. If you are using a mountain bike, I suggest changing the tires to "slicks" or tires without knobs.

You also don't want a triathlon-specific bike. They're harder to ride and less stable and comfortable for biking novices.

If you're buying a bike, first you need to find out what size frame you need. You can go to a local cycling shop and get measured or you can figure it out on your own by following these directions.

Then, checkout Craig's List or Ebay for a road bike. Road bikes can be really pricey so I highly suggest getting a used one at first. I don't want to get into the specifics of how I tell if a bike is good (I build my own bikes) because I know I'll lose you. Instead, send any listings to Jen, and I'd be happy to look at them and give you my opinion. And if you're local, I'd be delighted to check out a bike in person for you.

2. Get proper gear. You need padded bike shorts. Trust me. Always wear a helmet. My helmet saved my life. If you're ever in a crash and hit your head, replace your helmet stat. Helmets are only meant to protect your noggin for one crash.

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3. Pump up your tires properly. Invest in a bike-specific pump. They're cheap and necessary. On the sidewall of bike tires, there's a PSI number. Make sure your tires are pumped to this number. If you over-pump, they'll explode. If you under-pump, you're more likely to get a flat while out on the road.

4. Be smart, not scared. Whatever bike you have, make sure you practice on it. I know a girl who wanted to train for her first triathlon only by taking spinning classes. Luckily, I talked her out of it.

Yeah it can be scary biking next to cars especially if your area is like mine and doesn't have bike lanes. But it's the car's job to get out of your way.

I've been hit by a car before and it sucked. It didn't scare me away from biking though. Being constantly on edge will probably make you more likely to crash. Just be sure to follow the rules of the road and bike smart:

  • Bike with traffic. A bike is a vehicle. Follow all the same laws you do when driving a car. This means stopping at stop signs and traffic lights.
  • Don't assume cars see you. Make eye contact with drivers and always use your "turn signals", your arms.
  • Practice using clip-in shoes before you go on the road. You don't need clip-in shoes for your first tri. You'll go faster but they're not necessary. If you choose to use them, practice clipping in to them and out of them on a soft, grassy area. You will fall at first.
  • Wear sunglasses. You have a windshield on your car for a reason: to keep bugs, dust, and dirt kicked up from cars out of your face. Sunglasses work the same way.
  • Always carry an ID on you. And preferably a cell phone. I wear a Road ID bracelet. Always be sure to tell someone where you're going.

5. Learn with a group. Look for a bike club in your area (ask local bike shops about these) and go on group rides. You'll learn how to bike easier, there's safety in numbers, and you'll make friends. Try to find a beginner ride. If there aren't any, don't be shy about being the new guy. Just tell people you're a beginner so you don't get left behind.

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6. Train like you would for a running race. I know all of you runners have your long runs, easy runs, and speed workouts. Train the same way on the bike. Definitely add in hill work if hills are in your area. Climbing will make you a much stronger rider. And if you're like Jen, you may freak out when you go "way too fast" down hill. It's much better to freak out on a training ride than during the race.

7. Take breaks. When you first started running, I bet you took walk breaks. Do the same on the bike, even if you're in shape. Biking uses different muscles than running. Pull off in a parking lot or neighborhood and get off your bike and stretch.

Thanks hubby :) I have one more triathlon tips post coming up: the stuff I wish people told me before I crossed the start line.

11Apr/1111

Try to Tri: Swimming for runners

Posted by runnerstrials

I have a treat for you guys!

Danielle was sweet enough to share some swimming tips for runners. I was so delighted she agreed to do this! I may or may not have been the last person out of the water during my Olympic tri, so you definitely don't want any swimming tips from me ;)

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Hi all! Danielle from Foodosaurus Rex here, with a little insight into the world of swimming, and  a little advice on how to not make it your weakest leg of a triathlon! I was honored when Jen asked me to guest post, as I’m a big fan of the blog, and even though I officially hung up my goggles in 2008, am still a huge swimming nerd.

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Swimming: It’s the leg of a triathlon that most triathletes seem to dread the most.

There’s no need to feel that way, though! If you’re familiar with running (which you likely are, if you’re a reader of This Runner’s Trials and interested in a triathlon), you should have no problem stepping up your swimming game by keeping in mind a few key things:

Swimming really isn’t too different from running. You still need to log the miles (well, yards) to build up your endurance. If you want to get fast, you need to do speedwork. And building your strength is important, too. Simply getting in a pool and doing lap after lap will ensure you can finish that portion of the race, but it doesn’t by any means confirm it’ll be fast!

If you’re brand new to swimming - start out slow! The same rules for injuries apply as they would in running and cycling, however they’ll likely be found in your shoulders. And from someone that had tendonitis in her shoulder in high school, take it from me, you don’t want it! Your legs are likely strong from running and cycling, but in a way that’s different from swimming strong. This is where a kickboard can become your best friend. Throwing a kick set into the middle of a workout is a great change of pace – it’ll give you a chance to keep your head above the water, and really feel the burn in your legs.
 
A pull-bouy will also help you gain arm and shoulder strength, by stabilizing your legs. Yes, you have to shove a piece of Styrofoam in-between your legs, but I promise no one will look twice (besides, you’re under water!).
 
It’s true that a pool is quite different from a lake, pond, or ocean, but most of us don’t have the luxury to train in our exact racing conditions. So if you’re worried about not being able to master a flip-turn, don’t worry – there won’t be any in the actual race. Simply touching the wall and turning will suffice!
 
Even though little things like a flip-turn won't matter, picking out the right gear is important. This means taking the time to do some research on a good pair of goggles (no one wants water in their eyes), and a decent suit/wetsuit. There's something for everyone's style and budget, so I recommend checking out swimming specific shops (believe me, they exist), especially when looking for race day goggles and training suits.
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So really, the best advice I can give you is to relax. Swimming isn't nearly as scary as you might think. While you likely won't turn into the next Michael Phelps, that's okay, he's not a multi-sport athlete like you anyway ;) Make sure you vary up your time in the pool, switching from speed work, to logging laps, kick sets, and pulling sets, and I promise you'll feel more comfortable come race day.
 
You don't have to be a swimmer to rock the swim of a triathlon - you just have to race smart!
 
Thanks so much for the advice Danielle! I really echo her point about "just relax". The first few months I swam, I literally counted each stroke with my inhale: one, two, three, breathe, one, two, three, breathe. Boring? Heck yeah, but it really relaxed me and helped me get used to the rhythm. I know taking the plunge into the pool is scary, but I also know you can do it :)
 
Up next: biking! Including how to pick out a bike, or why anything with two wheels will do!