Thoughts from the Training Corner - with Coach Samantha

I struggle with writing about myself - It does not come natural and I fear that most of the world does not want to hear me prattle on about myself, but I am working on getting better about it as I have heard from a few of my athletes that it does help them to read about my process as an athlete. I also often think that I don’t really have anything that important to share about myself - I live an incredibly satisfying life.  It's my dream life, but to most my life is probably pretty dull. My dream life consists of momming, working, training, pajama-ing by five pm, reading a lot and drinking more tea then the Queen of England! Pretty saucy stuff.

I work from home alone, train 95 % of the time alone, and this makes for a lot of time to learn about myself and get pretty deep with my thoughts. Today I thought I would share some of those thoughts with you and how I think those thoughts have really helped me shape who I am today as an athlete.


For those of you who do not know, in 2013 I tore my patellar tendon. This is a fairly rare injury, not an easy one to fix, and could easily have ended my triathlon career. It took me nearly one year to find a doctor who would do surgery, another year of working with an amazing PT and strength coach, and three years of rebuilding in which I have been able to race one sprint tri. While I really would rather not have ever suffered the injury it came at a time of my life when I was starting Evolve and would have needed to step back from training anyway - so in an odd way, the injury was timed perfectly. It allowed me to build Evolve and devote my time to my athletes without struggling to fit it in as I started the business, so for that I am thankful, but I am also thankful for what the injury has taught me. So here are some of the thoughts that stream through my head while I am training solo.


This brings me to today. I do my long workouts midweek as it affords me to have more time with my family on the weekends. I do not take for granted that I am very lucky that I can put in hours during the week and do not have to juggle them pre or post work - plus I am always buoyed by the nap promise - what I mean by that is since I work from home, there is always the promise of the nap. Just having the promise makes getting up that much easier. I rarely nap - but knowing that I can, allows me to get up and get stuff done. However, what you trade in for the midweek workout is working out with others on your long rides and runs. Now, I know that I started out by saying that I adore my alone time, but the truth is that I am a talker - once you get me going, good luck at shutting me up. Anyone who has ever run with me knows that you will be hard pressed to get me to stop talking and there is nothing that I love more than the long run chat with a training partner. And lately as the days have grown shorter and colder, I have missed this more than ever.


Today was tough. Yesterday I did my long bike to run and in a rush was not dressed properly for the run and I was frozen and sad and hated life - I was negative and needed to do some serious freaking self talk to get myself through the run. I WAS SO OVER IT! It being the wind and cold and grey and when I thought about my long run the next day, I just could not think about being cold and miserable and decided that I would do my long run on the treadmill. This is basically like trading one evil for another - 100 minutes on the treadmill is a LONG time. A LOOOOOONG time, but I was done with the cold and so I planned to trade that for the monotony of the treadmill. Well this was the plan when I went to bed. When I woke up, I checked the weather: 17 degrees. I have run in far colder, time goes way faster outside, what if I can find a random person in the park and try and run with him or her, what if I carry my phone and listen to a podcast - something I never do, what if I wait until tonight and do it (TERRIBLE IDEA). Nah- I made a plan and I am a plan sticker-to, I will go to the gym and at least be in the company of others and get the workout in. I grab my bag, get in the car and start to drive, and the negotiations begin. I will do a split run, I will call my coach and tell her I can’t take it and need to split it up. I can do that - I will do 50 and 50 and so on and so forth until I have decided that I will try 10 minutes and call it a day ;-). So I hit start and begin my warm-up. I look at my watch 45 seconds… okay time to stop with the watch and the numbers, time to go back to your mantras and what you have been working on over the past months - the number one thing that I have been working on post injury is to NEVER squander the opportunity that I now have to do what I love. Three months post surgery I was told that the surgery might not have been successful and that I might want to give up running  . I was told that prior to surgery and did not want that option then but really did not want it after surgery. I demanded another MRI and when they took me down to get it and they placed the headphones on me, for some crazy reason Rage Against the Machine, F&%K you, I won’t do what you tell me was playing and I knew at that moment that I needed to do whatever I could to prove them (the collective them, basically the same MAN that I use too often in my parenting) wrong. This was one of those times where I needed to remind myself of the amazing privilege that I have to be able to run again and even more so that I have the freedom and support to do what I love. You do not need to have had an injury to know how lucky we are to do what we love. This thought got me through the first 15 minutes and then I started to think about how I was only  15 freaking minutes in - that means less than ⅙ done - Oh no you didn’t? Sam you know better to never do that kind of crazy thinking. Okay, okay, this is a perfect lesson for racing - change the thoughts from I am only at mile two,  to YO - biotch! I am already at mile two! Bring it. (My self talk is pretty much an embodiment of a way cooler alter ego. One that is not proficient at knitting and floral arrangements - a way badder self.) Feeling good again, another 15 minutes go by and now it’s time to start my intervals! I up the pace, OY! (alter ego is also sometimes a 80 year old yenta with a Brooklyn accent). The legs!! I can’t do this; I will never make this interval; I should stop, slow down. I check my HR. I am fine. The legs are not feeling peppy, but this is where the rubber meets the road, sit in the discomfort, let them work. I start to play the numbers game. I am a counter, like Rain Man style. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 - counting helps to ground me, but I have a lot of counting to do if I am going to make this 15 minute interval, so instead I bring my attention to my breathing. RELAX, RELAX, let the legs work. Calm the mind. Minutes 12 to 15 are tough, but before I know it I am in a recovery interval and over 45 minutes done. I realize then that there is no need to stop. I can and will get through this workout in one go. My legs are tired, my mind is tired, and I would SO rather be done - or would I? The fact is that I am at my happiest when I am working out. I love the feeling of being in tune with my body and my heart beat. HELLO!!!! You want and have this!!! I also thought of a recent podcast that I listened to with Kerry Walsh  Jennings - she mentioned that her goal as an athlete is to be un-f$%K-with-able. THIS IS JUST WHAT I NEEDED! I just started to chant that over and over again (to myself - this was at the Y), but I was silently yelling this to myself with every step. Interval two done and now the real challenge hits - I STILL have 35 more minutes of work! Now the devil on the shoulder creeps back in, you did the main-set - you could do a 5 minute cool down and call it a day. Then the green box enters my mind. I live and die by the green box. I love checking off the workout as written and knowing that I did just what was asked of me - so I decide to focus on getting to 90 minutes, once I have only ten left, I know I can do it. I bring the focus back to form and breathing. One minute down - I start to daydream about standing at a starting line. I am slower, I am missing part of my tendon, I am older, but more than ever I am thankful that I am closer than I have been in many years to being able to toe a line. AND this gets me to the 90 minute mark when I catch myself grinning from ear to ear and realizing that I have this sh*t in the bag… 9 minutes until cool down!! And just like that I am reminded of the power of the smile. It gets you through the toughest times. I am grinning like a fool as I run down those final minutes of the workout. IT IS OVER! I did it and I can tell you that the feeling of completing my longest run since November 17, 2013 is WAY better than the feeling of a warm blanket and a cup of tea! Oh, and guess what? I can still have that tea and blanket tonight, and  in my mind there is only one thing I love more than a cup of tea and a warm blanket in front of the fire place, the feeling of a warm blanket,  and cup of tea POST workout!