klara tri

This past April, I was finally able to cross an item off my bucket list and complete my first spring triathlon up at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmittsburg, MD. I’m sure you are saying, “Klara, what does running a triathlon have anything to do with self-care? Don’t you need to train like a crazy amount in order to do something insane like run a triathlon?”

Well, the short answer is yes. You do have to train and prepare for a triathlon, just like you would any other race or major sporting event. But, that doesn’t mean that self-care isn’t involved. Just like in many aspects of our life, self-care plays an integral role in training for any sport or race. The 4 months I spent training for this triathlon taught me that listening to your body will lead it to show you just how truly incredible we can be.

1. Rest days exist for a reason. Use them.

It may be easy to get excited or over eager and just keep training and training without allowing your body to rest. Or if you get closer to your race or sporting event and you don’t feel ready? You might feel like you have to put in extra hours at the gym or on the track to meet your goal. Rest days were a godsend. They allowed me to recuperate, and not injury myself. As a future personal trainer and dietitian, I feel confident saying, don’t skip rest days. Don’t do it.

2. Listen to your body

Between school and work, the easiest time for me to train was in the mornings. And that meant that I had quite a few early mornings at the gym before heading off to class. Now, once I got in a rhythm, getting up early started to get easier. But sometimes, after a particularly busy week, the alarm going off at 5 am was not at all a welcome sound (but to be fair, what alarm ever is). Those mornings, I needed to admit that a work out just wasn’t going to happen. And the beauty is that you can switch out when you take rest days, and rearrange your work out schedule a little bit, so that you can take care of yourself, and still meet your fitness goals!


3. Pain is your body’s way of telling you something isn’t right. Honor that.

The Monday morning before my Saturday triathlon, I went for one of my last taper runs before the race. I started at a nice easy pace and all of a sudden, I felt crazy pain in my ankle and foot. What? I can train for 4 months, just to get some weird ankle pain? You have got to be kidding me. This whole process taught me, that when in pain, slow down, take a deep breath and do what you can. Adjusting my taper workouts, properly bracing my ankle, and lots of stretching helped me get through my race, and reach my goal. Pushing yourself through pain may be dangerous, and can only cause you to hurt yourself even more.

4. Be Supportive of yourself and others

The triathlon community is one of the most supportive groups of people that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Being that it was my first triathlon, I was a little nervous (okay, a lot nervous, especially considering the ankle pain earlier in the week and the fact that I wasn’t a hundred percent sure that I would cross the finish line). While waiting to start the swim, I was encouraged by the woman in front of me! She hadn’t done a triathlon since she had had her two small children. The man behind me cracked jokes, and shared his tradition of doing triathlons with his college roommate as a way of keeping in touch. It was so refreshing to be around these people, and ultimately made me less nervous at the beginning!

klara swimming

As always, check with your doctor before starting an intensive exercise regime, and talk to your registered dietitian about your specific nutrition needs.

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