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2010/09/27 - Newsletter

Introductory edition of the newsletter

Is there a triathlon in your future?

Let me start this newsletter with my personal history. I started out as a somewhat chubby kid. P.E. class often consisted of all classmates racing agains each other. Games sometimes also were on the plan. In the races, no matter if they were foot races or swim races, I always came in second last. In the games I was always second or third last to be picked for a team, depending on the mercy of the choosing team captains. Short - I wasn't good at P.E. at all. The only better grade I ever got was because I managed two laps of butterfly swimming.

At college age, I had a phase of controlling my diet and obsessively jogging or swimming until I was quite a bit underweight. Lucky enough I was able to pull out of this before serious harm was done.

Fast-forward to me being mom to three little boys - the only swimmer in the family. For safety reasons I wanted to have them swim asap, so I wouldn't be too worried about being around water. I had set up swimming lessons for the three and during that time I thought it a waste of time not to do something else at that same gym. So I started running on the treadmill. I also went swimming myself once a week or so. This was at our local YMCA, and eventually I started to explore other programs they had. Commit to be fit was one of them - a free 3-months weight-plus-cardio commitment with a personal trainer introducing new exercises at each meeting. They had a survivor program, too, which was free, too, and each week we got a load of exercises to do and who performed worst (did least of them) was out of the program. I managed second place the first time I participated, first in later challenges - I still don't know how.

But the real turn-araound came when a swim stroke clinic instructor gave me this leaflet - a sign-up sheet for a ladies' only triathlon (swim 700yd, bike 12M, run 5k). I told him, that was not for me for I couldn't run and he said that I always could walk. So I pondered this a bit and then decided to try this. My husband Martin insisted in buying a road bike - my regular bicycle was a Holland street cruiser - weighing tons (at least it feels like). I trained some bits, especially running and then the big day was there. Wow, what an atmosphere. Women encouraging each other throughout the whole race. People cheering at me - yes, really. At me. I walked some of the up-hills, and eventually came into sight of the finish line. From the chubby kid and the eating disordered young woman, I had grown up to become a woman triathlete. What a feeling!

Did I ever in my early days suspect that I would become an athlete? Never. Olympic triathlon, ironman, half distance - all that was not in my vocabulary up to that one life-changing event six years ago. Since that first triathlon I have completed a whole number of different races covering different distances, including three Ironman distance races (2.4M swim, 112M bike, 26.2M run)

So, why would I stick with this? It is stressful to juggle kids, work and training all the time, but on the other hand the training gives me focus and sanity. I feel ready for the day after completing a challenging workout. I have not lost weight, but clothing sizes. I am stronger and my focus in training and racing transfers into everyday life.

So, back to my initial question: Is triathlon in the future for you? Would you like to start a healthy life-style? Would you like to assign a bit of personal time to your fitness, focus and force? You do not have to complete an ironman race to be an athlete. But triathlon is a sport consisting of three sports. You train your whole body, but do not stress parts of your body so much that injury results. Training for triathlon means having a ever-changing, never-boring schedule because every day you do something different.

This is the first of a series of bi-weekly to monthly newsletters. I plan to give you ideas on how to start, how to train, research results to improve training, how to race, etc. Stay tuned for the next issue.

Greeting from your coach's desk
Dr. Sylvia Zinser
USAT Certified triathlon coach