My Answers To Your Crazy Swimming Objections

My Answers To Your Crazy Swimming ObjectionsI’ve been writing a book on how to help triathletes swim easier, race faster, and enjoy it more.

In the process I have surveyed hundreds of triathletes and asked them questions to find out how I can best help them love the portion of triathlon that most people struggle to get through.

I have received so many great questions which is confirmation that the book I am writing is NEEDED!

Most who have responded tell me they don’t even like swimming and only do it because it’s part of the triathlon.

Since my book is designed to help triathletes who don’t love to swim learn to tolerate it, or better yet, even enjoy it, I probed further and asked what it is about swimming they dislike so much. Surprisingly, I got answers I was NOT expecting!!

I thought people would say it was too hard, or they were slow, it was boring, or their technique was poor, all of which I will cover in my book. But many could be grouped into the following 5 objections which I will ATTEMPT to answer.

The reason I say “attempt” is because these objections are very personal and require the swimmer to potentially make some changes in their attitude and lifestyle. So I may not be able to help with THESE specific issues…but I’m sure going to try…

1. I hate the smell of chlorine

Hmmmm! Maybe pick a different sport!!

Or…just train/race in the summer (or in a warm climate year around) so you can do all of your training in a lake or ocean. Other than that, maybe you can wear a nose plug. Or eat lots of garlic to overpower the smell of chlorine?

One great thing to look forward to is that fewer and fewer pools are using chlorine, many are moving toward salt water or other chemicals that don’t smell like the old-school chlorine pools.

2. I get too hungry when I swim so I just gain weight because I eat so much afterwards

I learned a trick back in the day from my HS Swim Coach who wanted all the girls to lose weight. I’m sure we were all super fat in High School so it was understandable (UGH!).

He said the reason we get so hungry is because the pool water (typically around 80 degrees) cools our core body temperature so our metabolism increases to get our core body temp up. So his “secret” was to sit in the hot tub, sauna, or steam room immediately following your swim. If you don’t have one available, a long hot shower will help as well. When you are 16, you have time for that.

As an adult, it’s typically ‘get in/get out’ so what I do is immediately after a swim (like IN the shower when I am rinsing off), I drink a healthy meal replacement shake to give my body some protein, carbs, fat, and nutrients which takes the edge off until my next scheduled meal. Plus…standing in the hot shower for several minutes will start to raise my body temp! BONUS!!

3. I don’t like having to take multiple showers in a day

Then don’t. No one says you have to shower after you swim. If you get itchy, do a quick rinse with a swimming soap. If it’s because you care what other people think you may smell or look like, get over it.

You can rinse off and then shower when you get home, at the end of your day, or after your other workouts for the day. For me, showering is one of my favorite calming and self-care activities so I take full advantage of the pool showers (keep in mind I live in an RV so our showers at home are not so calming) so I am more than happy to shower.

And as you read above I drink my lunch in a matter of minutes while IN the shower, so apparently I would rather spend a few extra minutes in the shower than eating a meal. Priorities!

4. It takes too long to do my hair and make-up after I swim

This is a great time to simplify your life and change up your look at the same time! I’m a little biased because I think 100% of people look better with no make-up and natural hair. If you know me, I typically toss on a hat, but I know most people can’t do that, especially if you are heading to work or a business meeting.

I find when I put my hair in a loose ponytail on top of my head and then take it down right before I get to where I need to be, I have a wavy cute hair style. There are also fun and tasteful ways to wear a low pony or bun that take only minutes to produce and look very nice and professional.

And if you MUST wear make-up, I’m sure there are 2-3 stoplights in between your pool and your office!!

5. It gets so expensive when I have to buy swimsuits constantly

Now this IS a valid excuse! I typically go through a suit every 2 months. I’ve done some experimenting with this and no matter how EXPENSIVE a suit I get, they all last about the same amount of swims for me.

So here’s my solution…I buy the cheapest possible suit I can find. I order all my suits from www.swimoutlet.com/iheartswimming and I search women’s competition suits and then order them by price.

Personally I get 2 piece suits because they fit me better (I have a long torso and my top is much smaller than my bottom) and I can typically get the entire suit for around $10. Yes, they may be mismatched, yes I have had some seriously ugly designs, but for $10 I’m not complaining!!

I’m not saying you HAVE to have an ugly suit to save money, my current one is SUPER cute and was on sale last month. Top was $5, bottom was $8, pink and camo…WINNING!! I bought 2 of each!

Finally

I sincerely hope these answers help you at least CONSIDER swimming more often or help you enjoy it more.

Swimming is an amazing sport because you can do it your ENTIRE life. I used to be a lifeguard and I remember every morning, M-F at 5am, a taxi would pull up in front of the Y and a little old lady would slowly climb out. Using her walker she would make her way through the front door, into the locker room and eventually into the pool area. It would take her 30 minutes to finally get into the pool, but as soon as she did she was a machine. She would swim non-stop for 30 minutes. I was so impressed, especially when I found out she was 93 years old! AWESOME!!!

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I didn’t even really like running…until today!!

I didn't even like running until todayWhen I was a kid, running was just something I did to keep up if I wanted to play with other kids. Then when I got into team sports, here’s how it went down: I was the goalie for soccer, coach stuck me under the basket in basketball, I was short stop for softball, warmed the bench for volleyball, and I was on JV tennis and we had so many girls that we always just played doubles against each other and no one could complete a serve anyway!

So as you can see, I have done very little running.

I actually did run track in Junior High, I ran the mile, probably because no one else would, but I’m not sure that I ever enjoyed it. My senior year in High School I went out for the Cross Country team. I said it was to “stay in shape for swimming” but it was because I really wanted to lose weight since when I wasn’t swimming I would gain a few pounds.

And I was the slowest one on the team. Running was so hard for me so I hated it. And being the last ranked on the team sucked! If you know how they score Cross Country, my race every week was torturous AND didn’t even count for the team. Double UGH!

And the last time as a youngster I “tried” to be a runner was in college. To avoid the Freshman 15, I started to run. Again, it was so hard that I quit after 2 days and decided to become a speed walker instead.

I was a speed walker until race day of my very first triathlon at the age of 27. I even trained for the 2 mile run with speed walking. The only reason I even ran in the race is because I really wanted to beat this one girl I knew.

And then I decided I wanted to do an Ironman distance triathlon so I figured I better start running since there is a marathon involved. It’s harder to fake your way through 26.2 miles. But even after 10 years of Ironman distance triathlons, I STILL didn’t enjoy running. Running was just something I had to do to finish a triathlon.

In 2013 I decided to do a running streak where I had to run at least 2 miles every single day, unless I was super sore from a race or long run or something then I could walk the 2 miles. After about 90 days I started looking forward to my runs, and it got me wondering what had changed.

Here is what I came up with…

Starting most things in life are hard. A new job, a new habit, a workout program, having a baby, a new diet, etc. When something is hard, it is typically not enjoyable. Since running is hard (it’s one of the highest calorie burning forms of exercise out there), unless you are the 1% out there with natural running talent AND a runner’s build, it will probably not be fun in the beginning.

However, the more you run, the easier it gets, and the easier it is, the more you will enjoy it. It makes sense! I think most people (including me) never did it enough to get to the point where it felt effortless. And only when it feels effortless will you actually love the feeling of running.

So I began to enjoy running, I even considered myself a runner, but I didn’t really love it because it still felt like more work than I wanted it to.

Tonight I decided to go to the gym after a long day of not having time to work out. I was a little anxious and overwhelmed all day (week, month) and ALMOST didn’t go since it was late and I never go to the gym at night, but my sister told me to go because I knew I would feel better after I went (thanks Kara). I walked in and the lights, sounds, smells, and energy made me feel instantly better. I hopped on one of the only open treadmills, turned on my favorite Pandora station (Pink), and pressed start.

The belt started moving, slowly at first, then steadily up to where I typically warm up on a run. It felt like I was floating, barely touching the belt. I wasn’t thinking about my body, it just knew what to do next. I felt relaxed, like I had done this a thousand times before. I increased my speed 2 mph and it still felt easy. I just went with it.

I looked around, smiled, and for the first time in my life, loved the way it felt to be running. The thousands of miles I had put in over the previous 13 years finally paid off.

Clients tell me all the time “I wish I was a runner”. I believe if you WANT to be a runner, you can be a runner. Be patient with yourself, enjoy the process, and have fun. Enjoy the journey. I completely agree with Henry David Thoreau when he said “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” I am who I am today partly due to the hours I have spent becoming a runner.

Here are more deets on my journey and how I increased my running with no injuries or burnout in my popular e-book “How to PR Your Iron Distance Marathon”…

Happy Running!!

I Love a Great Bargain! Swim Outlet

I-love-swim-outletI Love a Great Bargain! Especially on things I go through quickly like food, water, soap, running shoes, and swim suits.

Order here >> www.SwimOutlet.com/IHeartSwimming

I have been a competitive swimmer since age 8. My sister who was 6 at the time was on swim team and came home with a handful of ribbons after a swim meet. I signed up the next day!!

I immediately became super obsessed with swimming (who me?) and would swim every chance I got.

Now that I am an adult, I can’t imagine how expensive it was for my mom to be buying me suits, goggles (well, we didn’t really use goggles all that much back then), caps, towels (lost at least one a week), sweats, etc.

PLUS…we had to actually GO somewhere to buy all this stuff! I’m sure there were mail order catalogs, but we didn’t know anything about them. So thanks Mom for using your hard earned (she was an elementary school teacher so she worked her butt off for every penny) money to support my green hair, red eyed dreams!!

Now that I am paying for my own gear, I am super grateful that I found SwimOutlet.com over 10 years ago. I order from them almost monthly which saves me hundreds of dollars each and every year.

Here is more information about SwimOutlet.com:

SwimOutlet.com is the largest online specialty shop for swimming, water polo, fashion, beach, and surf products in the US. For over 10 years, we have focused on delivering the best online shopping experience and the best value. Our success and very existence are dependent on the repeat orders and word of mouth recommendations of loyal, satisfied customers.

We are confident you’ll find SwimOutlet.com to be your first choice for quality products, lowest prices,
reliable delivery and shopping convenience.

We also take pride in living up to our company’s motto to help people live healthier lives through sports and fitness, so we’re pleased to have been recognized by the American Heart Association as a Gold-Level Fit-Friendly Worksite for helping employees eat better and move more.

AWESOME!!

Order here >> www.SwimOutlet.com/IHeartSwimming

Disclosure…the link included in this post is an affiliate link and I will get a stipend for recommending it to you. That said, I never recommend anything that I don’t actually use or know about and sometimes I can negotiate a lower rate for my peeps!

Why I Ran A Marathon On The Treadmill

Why I Ran A Marathon On The TreadmillMy BFF Wendy and I like to do crazy things to celebrate the holidays. Several years ago we started swimming 10,000 on Xmas eve, a couple years ago we starting ringing in the new year with a long swim on New Year’s Eve (this year will be 15,000 for 2015), and then of course there is our birthdays, where we always come up with something fun and interesting.

We had been talking for the past two years about doing a marathon around a track since neither of us had ever done that. About a month ago, we decided to make that our new Thanksgiving tradition. I’m in Southern California this year, but she’s in Colorado, which has been unusually cold so far this Winter.

So a couple days before Thanksgiving, she asked if I wanted to switch our new tradition to a treadmill marathon since neither of us had ever done one of those either. Of course I said yes!

So was born our First Annual Gratitude Treadmill Marathon.

I would love to say I do these challenges to raise money for a great cause, bring awareness to something important, or even inspire others to go big and stretch outside their comfort zone, but the truth is I do these challenges for more selfish reasons.

I like the attention of people calling me crazy, I love pushing myself and proving that at age 42 I can do more than I could at age 22, and let’s be real here, I adore the fact that I start my Thanksgiving weekend with a 4,000 calorie deficit.

However, as with all events in life, there is a silver lining.

I am a health/wellness coach and I love when people say to me “since you did that, I can do this” or “because you didn’t give up, I know I couldn’t either.” So to be able to inspire others to attempt something new, accomplish a goal they never thought possible, to do something purely for the fun or challenge, or to love themselves more is ALWAYS a bonus.

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My Longest Run EVER!

I have friends who have done 100 mile trail races that take over 40 hours to complete, start at 10,000 feet in in elevation, and go up and down mountains, so it’s hard for me to say I did an ultramarathon yesterday. But semantics dictate that anything longer than a marathon is an ultra, so technically I am officially an ultrarunner. Here’s how it went down…

I had a blast and can’t wait to do another! JOIN ME!

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And to think I started running ONLY to be able to complete an Iron Distance Tri!! Crazy where life takes us sometimes!

My longest run ever

Life After Sleeping Pills

Life After Sleeping PillsAbout 10 years ago, I had a little diet soda problem. I also had a little anxiety problem. Neither of which were actually little.

The diet soda issue started when I was searching for a new career. I decided to go back to school to be a secondary science teacher. I started taking classes at school and online while working more than full time, building my own business, training for an ironman, and coaching and subbing at the local middle school to get to know the teachers/admin to help get a job after I got my certification.

Studying was tedious, time consuming, and boring, so I began mindless snacking to keep me awake and alert. I quickly gained 5 pounds in the first month, and if you know me, you know that freaked me out. I pondered my options and came up with nothing positive, including the one I chose. I actually thought I was brilliant!! Diet soda!! I could sip one while I was studying to stave off boredom with the added bonus of caffeine to keep me alert. I was so smart!

Well, needless to say (again…if you know me) one can daily quickly turned into a six pack. No biggie though…it was cheap, no calories, and got me through my days. In fact, I even started losing weight (bonus). I ended up at one of my lowest weights as an adult which sparked a long, torturous love affair with diet soda…but that’s a whole other story I’ll share one day.

About that same time, I was also feeling more and more anxious in my life (as if you couldn’t tell…I think my anxiety went up just writing the last 5 minutes). I had spent all my adult life (and half my childhood) feeling an overwhelming need to perform and be better. I was a deeply empathetic perfectionist which was a recipe for disaster. I was feeling like a failure in my relationship and my career and my highs were getting higher and my lows were getting lower.

My therapist referred me to a psychiatrist who prescribed 3 pills, one was a sleeping pill. A half a pill a night would take the edge off, but she also told me to stop loading the caffeine, especially in the late afternoon/evening…like that will happen!

Since I was much smarter than my doctor, I decide a better solution for me (since I know myself better than she possibly could in one visit) was to keep the sodas and take the whole sleeping pill to counteract the effects if the caffeine! Genius!

Fast forward 2 years…I dive heavily into personal growth, decide I don’t want to be a teacher, quit my job, stop my meds cold turkey, and start working toward creating a life I love. Sounds perfect right?

Except now I couldn’t sleep…oh, and I was still addicted to diet soda.

So I started taking over the counter sleeping pills. They say “non habit forming” on the container which is hilarious because if you sleep with them and can’t sleep without them, you will take them daily…that sounds like a habit to me!

Where were we? Oh yes…sleeping pills. So for the past 7 years I have been taking OTC pills to sleep.

About 85 times I have “tried” to stop, but there were so many more reasons to keep taking them.

Between getting a good night sleep leading up to a race to sleeping through snorers at retreats to making sure I was rested while traveling, I always found a reason why I needed to take them “just one more week”.

Over the past year I have been making small changes in my life to cleanse my mind and body more and more. I live a pretty clean life and I got to the point where there wasn’t much left to take out so I decided at the beginning of this month that when my bottle ran out, I was DONE! Time to work on relaxation or meditation or whatever it is I need to do to help my body unwind and sleep the natural way. I am ready to trust that when my body needs it, it will sleep.

I am super nervous because when I am tired I under-hydrate and overeat. When I am tired I am cranky and emotional. When I am tired my skin breaks out and my legs itch. When I am tired I procrastinate and am unproductive. All these things scare me. But using sleep as an excuse to continue being/feeling this way isn’t who I want to be, so I am willing to give up those stories and start taking 100% responsibility for 100% of my life.

PHEW! I’m exhausted! Of course…it is 3am…couldn’t sleep…

Please share your best sleeping tips here! I need all the help I can get!

Why I Have to do Another Ironman

Why I Have To Do Another IronmanI said I would take a break from triathlon after the Ironman World Championships in Kona…and I will…but I know AT SOME POINT I will HAVE to do another Ironman. WHY? Because I feel like I failed at my last race. Not because of my time or my age group place…I wasn’t expecting to place high at the World Championships, I was TRULY grateful just to have qualified and am proud of myself and understand that just being there was an honor and a great accomplishment.

Here is where the problem lies…

I let the race beat me mentally. I had a much harder bike leg than I anticipated and by the time I got 10 miles into the run, I had talked myself into walking most of the remainder of the race, convincing myself that running wouldn’t really make a difference since I knew I would finish well under the time cut off even with walking the entire 2nd half of the run.

And it worked, I finished in just over 14 hours (cut off is 17 hours), and was happy I finished since it was a long, hard day. I was proud of myself for being there, but I did NOT give it all I had. I cannot honestly say I gave it everything, that I did all I could do that day, that I left it all out on the course…and 3 weeks after the race, that isn’t sitting well with me at all.

I am a big proponent of the Four Agreements. The fourth is “Always Do Your Best”. And I do in most areas of my life on most days. So when things don’t turn out exactly the way I want them to, I am fine with it because I did the best I could at that given moment.

But on Saturday, October 11th, I did NOT do my best, I did not give it everything I had, and I want to. I want to make it up to the sport, to pay respect to the race, and to KNOW in my heart and soul that I gave all I could in that situation on that day.

I know some of my besties will tell me I am being too hard on myself, but I also know that my tri geek peeps will totally get where I am coming from. I appreciate and need both groups of people in my life.

I am grateful for those who challenge my type A, 3 on the enneagram, perfectionist tendencies so I know that what I do and how I perform don’t make up WHO I am and are the only basis’ for how much love I deserve and receive.

On the other hand, I am also thankful for those in my life that make me feel like I’m not the crazy, OCD, addict and can get behind my decisions and fire me up when I need a little extra energy to move toward my goals and dreams.

I have for sure learned a lot about myself from this race and this experience and will take it all so that next time I can finish knowing I gave it ALL!

If you haven’t watched my race report, here it is…

Thanks again for being in my life!

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I Will Never Do That Again…

For those of you interested in hearing about how the day I have been dreaming of for the past 13 years ended up…

The Kona Ironman - I will Never Do That Again!

Fitness : Why it took me 13 years to make it to the island of Hawaii

Fitness : Why it took me 13 years to make it to the island of HawaiiYes, it took me 13 years to get to Kona!

I guess I could have just bought a plane ticket and traveled to the 50th state at any time during my adult life, but that’s not how I wanted to get over there. I wanted to qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, HI that goes on every year in October.

Let me back up a few years. Here is a brief recap of my life as a triathlete…

  • 1999: Did my first sprint distance triathlon and was hooked
  • 2001: Did my first ironman distance triathlon and was hooked
  • 2001: Watched the airing of the Ironman World Championships on TV and wanted to BE there
  • 2002: First year I trained with the ambition to earn a qualifying slot (typically top 2-3 in each age group for women)
  • 2002: Placed 22nd in qualifying race
  • 2003: Placed 28th in qualifying race
  • 2004: Placed 45th in qualifying race
  • 2005: Placed 22nd and 28th in qualifying races
  • 2006: Placed 29th in qualifying race
  • 2007-2009: Took a break from racing altogether
  • 2010: Placed 38th in qualifying race
  • 2011: Placed 31st in qualifying race
  • 2012: Broke collar bone and had to forfeit qualifying race ☹

2013: Placed 3rd in qualifying race and EARNED A SLOT IN HAWAII!!!

So as you can see, it took me 12 years to earn my slot into the Ironman World Championships in Kona, HI. And what an AMAZING road it was! I’m not by nature a patient person, but it makes sense to me why it took so long.

I am naturally an average athlete. I am very active, love competing, have been in sports since I was about 6 years old, am obsessed with nutrition and exercise, and was a full time personal trainer and fitness instructor for 15 years of my adult life, but by no means did I have “natural” ability. If I did, I would have qualified at my first qualifying race like my BFF Wendy did when she was 19 and had no clue what she was doing!!

There is a NY Times best-selling book called OUTLIERS: THE STORY OF SUCCESS by Malcolm Gladwell. Throughout the book, Gladwell repeatedly mentions the “10,000-Hour Rule”, claiming that the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours.

I subscribe to this theory and have seen it work in my own life in my relationships, businesses, personal growth, and of course, athletics. I train “in season” an average of 25 hours a week, “off season” an average of 15 hours a week. This averages out to about 1,000 hours a year. This means I would hit my 10,000 hours in about 10 years. Since I took a couple years off in the middle, it makes sense it would take me a bit longer.

So 12 years after I set in motion my dream of earning a Kona qualifying slot, I finally made it. I talk in detail in my book TRAIN SMARTER FOR BETTER RESULTS (www.KirstenMcCay.com) if you want to know HOW I did it and what I learned over the years, but it really boils down to the “10,000-Hour Rule”.

So whatever you want in life, KNOW what you want, WORK toward what it is, and be PATIENT as it takes time to become a master at anything. My favorite part is that I have control over the time and energy I put into something. So although it may take me 10,000 hours to be great, I get to decide if 10,000 hours happens in 5 years or 30 years. Like I said…patience isn’t my strength.

If you want to follow my entire “Road to Kona”, check out my videos at www.YouTube.com/FitnessDivaKir

Fitness : The First Day in 28 Years that I Loved my Body

Fitness The First Day In 28 Years I Loved My BodyWhen I started Junior High, I was “HUGE”. I mean I wasn’t overweight or anything, but at 5’7”, 130 pounds, and size 9 feet, I was SO much bigger than all my 5’ nothing, size 0, no hips, size 5 feet friends. So at the ripe old age of 12, I started hating my body.

To add insult to injury, I was a swimmer. So I was ALWAYS in a swimsuit, and I think as a female athlete, there is added pressure to have less body fat as it is. I was pretty much doomed from an early age to constantly battle my disordered body issues.

Fast forward…to 1999 when I become a competitive triathlete, another sport where low body fat is favored. Every time I didn’t make my goal or get the time or place I wanted, I always blamed it on my body. “I guess I’m just too big to be a competitive athlete” or “If I lost 10 pounds I could run so much faster”. Whether these statements are actually true or not, makes no difference AT ALL because I believe they are true, and as long as I continue to accept that as truth, then it will always be true for me.

Fast forward AGAIN…to 2013 when I am 40 years old and have spent the last 28 years beating myself up for not having the body I want. And by the way, after 28 years of telling your body it’s not skinny enough or strong enough or fast enough or tight enough, it doesn’t matter what is ACTUALLY going on, your brain will never believe when you actually ARE skinny, strong, fast, tight, etc. It’s extremely heartbreaking to see this happening to so many people because I know firsthand how it feels to be living in a body that can never be what you think it should be. It’s a painful and hopeless battle you are constantly fighting with yourself, usually silently and alone.

September 15, 2013, six weeks before my 41st birthday, one week before racing my 10th Ironman distance triathlon, I was complaining to my husband (he’s a saint BTW for putting up with my eating/body issues for 18 years and counting) that I wasn’t at my goal race weight and I was such an idiot for not cutting calories during taper and I felt huge BLAH BLAH BLAH!

September 22, 2013, race day is here! Air temp at the start of the race was in the 30s…FAHRENHEIT. In my age group out of 174 women, only 103 finished. Most either took so long to warm up after the swim that they missed the bike cut off time or just couldn’t get warm enough to start the run after the bike. I had an amazing race and never got cold enough to even consider a DNF (Did Not Finish). Many of these DNFs were world class athletes and I finished! I was so proud of my amazing body and what it accomplished that day!

And if I’m being 100% honest, it would probably have a little bit to do with those “extra” pounds I didn’t lose before the race.

PS…If you are struggling with any sort of disordered eating/body image issues, PLEASE tell someone! You are NOT alone and there are so many ways to get help. You don’t have to fight this battle forever. PLEASE PLEASE reach out!!