I know a lot of people think that training and racing come easy for me. When I tell people my goals, the response is always something like “oh you will crush that!” but when I get into the details of my training, it’s usually met with wide-eyes and sometimes judgement. It’s as if the race will magically happen without the training.
I get a lot of:
You’re doing too much
Why are you doing all this training?
Are you sure you should be doing that many (miles, yards, hours, etc.)?
You get the idea.
A recurring theme is when I tell people the breakdown of an Olympic distance triathlon – 1 mile swim, 25 mile bike and 6 mile run – they respond with “oh that’s totally doable” or “that should be easy for you.” I just smile and nod but honestly, racing is never easy, and although those distances may seem “totally doable” (and they are) it is one tough mother effer when you put them all together and, let’s not forget that this will be my first attempt at this distance.
There is fear. There is doubt.
Sometimes the comments get to me. They trickle in, they build up, until…
The Health Scare
After being sick with some sort of stomach bug all day on Sunday, I started feeling better on Monday but still a little off. I did a 2800 yard swim and 20 minute pool run, which is an easy day, and felt fine. I continued with my day – grocery shopping, laundry, writing – stop me if this is too much excitement for you – and then I started getting the worst chest pain imaginable.
I thought it was heart burn. It made sense it was heart burn.
I googled what to do and came up with chewing peppermint gum, drinking a tablespoon of baking soda with water and taking an antacid. I did all of those and was still in tremendous pain for two hours! My husband was driving home from Boston and my kids were about to get off the bus.
There was another thing I saw when I googled – – heart attack. This is, of course, why they tell you not to google your symptoms. But, I was in so much pain and I was worried to be alone with my kids if something did happen so, I called my dad and stepmom and they came over immediately. They also thought I should go to the ER because, what was the down side?
So off I went. Feeling ridiculous and also scared. And still in so much pain.
My husband called me on the way there and told me this could all be related to my training, that it’s too much and I’m damaging my heart.
There was fear. There was doubt.
At the hospital they immediately ran an EKG and declared my heart is in magnificent, perfect, overwhelmingly fantastic condition. Ok, what is really said was my heart rate was “low” because anything below 60 BPM is considered slow. However, the nurse (who was a runner!) knew immediately I was an athlete and said all the healthy, fit people show up as “low” when really we are in great health. For the record my resting heart rate is 50.
To be safe, they did a chest x-ray and had a blood culture done – all clear. It was acid build-up from whatever was going on with my stomach on Sunday. I was told to eat white rice, toast and applesauce and not to drink coffee without food and to take my prescription. Gross, but doable.
Now, three days out, I’m back to myself and eating anything but white rice and toast. But, this little scare got me thinking.
Why do I doubt myself?
Why do I let what other people think bother me or give me second thoughts about my training?
I know a lot of people don’t understand why I do what I do. Some may even think it’s silly, vain, a waste of time or any combination of those things. Why does it matter?
Many claim that social media only shows or discusses the highlight reel of life, of training, of anything so – -here it is, the ugly side, the under belly, the real deal.
I do care what people think.
Words bother me.
Nasty comments bother me.
I am affected.
I know who I am and I know why I do what I do.
I know my body.
When I was pregnant with the twins and still exercising I got a lot of the same comments, questions and, most of all, death stares at the gym. The result? Healthy twin baby boys carried to term when 60% of twins are premature and end up in the NICU.
I listened to my body and mind then and I’m listening to them now.
All anyone would need to see are the pictures of my training days which could not possibly be faked, day after day. So often I get comments on my Instagram feed that read “you are always smiling!” And yes, I am because this is what makes me happy.
It also obviously makes my heart happy. Very happy.
Making my body and mind healthy is a very big reason I do what I do. After my mother was diagnosed with cancer and died when I was 17 I decided that I would do everything I could to be healthy. I would do everything my mom couldn’t do – be thin, be active, eat right, exercise everyday, run a marathon, LIVE A LONG LIFE.
So, my message to you is do what feels right to you. Do what makes you feel happy. Screw everyone else and, if you have to, prove it with an EKG. #Drastic
There will be days and times when you question everything but, if you’re honest with yourself, you will have all the right answers.
[Tweet “Have you questioned everything during a hard #training cylce? These are my answers. #Train4Life “]
Have you questioned your training? Races? Goals? Tell me about it.
How do other people’s questions/comments affect you?
“yes I am because this is what makes me happy”
THAT MY FRIEND IS SO SO SO KEY and somewhere so many of us never get in life.
We spend forever searching for what might make us happy and get stuck and caught up in doing what we think of SHOULD or MUST in hopes it will make us happy in the end.
Im so so glad youre ok <3
You are (as usual) exactly right! Thank you my friend, it is so appreciated!! xoxo
I don’t train at near the level you do. But, I’ve been questioned myself SEVERAL times. Especially by my co-workers (that could have something to do with the fact that I’m chronically late…oops) “that’s too many miles!” “Your heart might explode!” (I too have a RH of 49 in the mornings. Doc says I’m good!) “Your knees will give out!” Etc. but if they only knew to do their stability and strength workouts the knees will last…*sigh* another excellent post Vita!!
Thank you so much for understanding this Jess and for sharing! It was kind of a scary one to post because sometimes you think “I am the only one who feels this way!!” But, of course, that is not the case and especially people who don’t run (like your co-workers) they think we are completely insane but – keep doing what you’re doing and keep living the healthy, fabulous life you are!
First off – I’m glad you are ok! Second – I’m glad you did get it checked out. Not to be a buzz kill but you could have been having a heart attack. I’ve had patients in ironman shape who did. And who are younger than you. It’s better to be safe and smart. Third – you continue to do you! I’ve heard the – You are doing too much! – statement before. It makes me happy. It makes me healthy. Sure there are side effects but sitting on the couch and doing nothing has much, much more. xoxo
Thank you Angela and that is precisely why I went! I’ve heard too many stories about otherwise very healthy people having heart attacks – even dropping dead in races, etc. I’m not ignorant enough to think I’m immune, plus I was really worried that I was alone with the kids. But, everything worked out and I would do it all over again.
And I couldn’t agree with you more about the alternative to NOT running 🙂 Run on my friend!
I’m glad to hear you are okay and I’ve honestly done this to myself several times. I have no reason for it but I doubt myself and those comments do build up. When people comment “oh this comes easy” or ” you will be able do it, no problem” it bothers me! I don’t magically achieve goals and times from not working hard.
I know you must hear it all the time! People always think that 5ks are especially easy because they are short but, I actually find the opposite to be true!! But, we know how hard we work so don’t let the comments get to you – you are inspiring!!
This is why I love you. You are so talented and so normal! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and fears. I only love people who are “real”.
And UGH to the stomach bug! I feel you. That one I had? I’d only wish it on one person, The Donald. But like my partner at work said, he’d make it the best stomach bug anyone ever had…
Thanks so much for appreciating and saying that Wendy. It’s the only way I know how to be but, it’s scary to put it out here and your comment makes me feel a lot better!!
And I am laughing at the Donald comment b/c seriously that would SO happen!!! Grrrrrrrr
I’m so happy to hear you are okay. Any kind of pain in the chest is cause for immediate concern. So happy you got checked out and got the all clear. I think your hubby and everyone else just cares for you so much, honestly I see your training and my mind can’t comprehend doing all of that in a week much less a day. You are extraordinary Allie, and so is your training. Keep doing what you love and stick to your guns.
Thank you Nellie! It was definitely scary and I’m glad I took the safe route so I’m not second guessing myself now and I felt so much better as soon as my dad and stepmom showed up. As you know, it’s all about those boys!!
Thank you for everything you said. You know I take it to heart and appreciate it! xoxo
You must have been terrified!! So glad you’re okay (and love that your nurse was one of our own!). Yes, I’ve heard all the negatives as well. Marathons give you heart attacks, youre going to have to get knee replacements by 40, you’re ‘spoiling’ your breast milk by running, you’re going to hurt the baby by running, who’s taking care of the kids while you’re training, etc etc. it’s all so fun to hear (especially when their sources are tabloid newspapers and Dr Oz). I can deal with it when it comes from a place of love (even though it still pisses me off), but I get irritated when it comes from a place of “I don’t ever work out and I’m irrationally angry at those who do.” I LOVE how happy training and competing makes you, you are one of my athletic idols and you wouldn’t be quite you without your races and hard work. Love you!!!
I am too! It was super scary but I felt so much better as soon as my reinforcements showed up. I was mostly worried about being alone with the boys, as I know you so understand.
And yes, when it comes from a loving place and someone who truly doesn’t “get it” I don’t take offense but unfortunately, that is not often the case. But THANK YOU so much for always being such a great friend and cheerleader and speaker of truths!!! Keep on running!!
Sigh. Girl. Preach.
I got this a lot when I was running a ton, but I get it WAY more now. “Why do you work so much?” “Do you really think you should be traveling and away from your husband so much?” “Is that good for your back?” It’s endless. It’s exhausting. And…it really, really bothers me sometimes. I had a bit of a breakdown about this exact thing this weekend after both sets of parents were here for Easter and I just couldn’t take the comments anymore. I held it in until they left, but yeah…leave me the eff alone and let me live my life!
Sorry. Rant over! I’m glad you’re ok!
Oh I so know you totally get this!!! I think it’s especially hard when you get it over and over and over again from the same person or people. It’s like you just snap and say ENOUGH!!! At least you handled it well with your parents. And, I feel better knowing that pretty much every amazing, strong, athletic, smart woman in my life gets this same shit! 🙂 We must be doing something right.
Thank goodness you are ok. But you were very smart to not ignore those symptoms and have it checked out. And a huge shout out to your awesome support system that swooped in to help with your boys.
You are one of the athletes who inspire me to do that next hard thing that might scare me a little bit. Because usually, whatever you are doing is way, way more challenging. The only person who has an opinion that matters to me is my husband, because I do have to live with him. And right now, he is not supporting my dream of training for a second full marathon because the training does take an awful lot out of you. And he is not incorrect in that view. He says, “Run as amy halves as you want, just not another full.”
Thank you so much and yes, I’m so lucky to have a great support system. As much as I didn’t want to scare my dad, I truly needed his help and he was there with my stepmom. They are the best!!
And yes, those husbands have a way of crushing our goals…mostly out of love but goal crushing nonetheless. I guess good luck running ALL those half marathons 🙂
Lesson here is do not google your symptoms but just call your doctor’s office…. they are there for a reason. I’m not getting the you are training too much, but I did get some people who were surprised that I am going to do another one…. specifically from people who had the “one and done” marathon experience and were surprised that I did not have the same.. .. Glad you are feeling better and back to kicking ass:)
Yes doctor 🙂 Truly, though thank you Paria and I bet you have quite a few surprised friends at your second marathon goal. The marathon, as you know, is not for everyone!
I love the saying, “what other people are saying about me is none of my business.”
Allie, I can’t even BEGIN to tell you how much criticism I have received. I’ve been mocked too many times to count. Too many miles, too many kids, shouldn’t have got divorced, didn’t get divorced soon enough, dated too soon after, got too thin, gained too much weight, had kids too close together, shouldn’t have had the blended family baby, blah blah blah it goes on and on on.
When other people try to bring us down, it reveals a lot more about them then it does about us. And if what they say makes me react inside, really really angry and defensive, then I deal with it because there’s usually an element of truth to what they’re saying. If there was no truth, then I wouldn’t react much at all. If they criticized me with love and care and respect, then I deal with it with them. If they’re being douchey, then I deal with it with my therapist or someone who cares about me.
OMG I think I need that saying tattooed on my arm! It is just so right ON!!
And there is SO much truth in what you’re saying. This will really make me stop and think next time about how I’m reacting and why. THANK YOU!
I’m glad you are ok! That’s a care but you’re smart to check it out. I think that’s part of the criticism that happens – others who aren’t caring so much for their bodies also don’t take that extra step to just make sure everything is in the clear. And love that you got a runner nurse! Those are hard to find but make any check up so much easier.
Your training is pretty much my weekly inspiration. Keep doing what you’re doing, because you’re so talented at it! Those smiles in your IG pictures say it all. Those negative comments suck and I repeat that one probably overused Eleanor Roosevelt quote whenever the comments get to me: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Hope you continue to have a kick-ass week of training!
Another GREAT quote! I absolutely love that because it is so true. Thank you so much Laura and yes, getting the running nurse was a huge bonus!
I am very glad that you are ok, it is better safe than sorry with any chest pain!
You are a super awesome, strong, smart woman! Please remember that next time any self doubt tries to sneak in!
Some days I think that as women, we want to keep everybody around us happy, because it feels like our job. But I just want family and friends to be supportive! So when I tell my family I’m registering for a marathon, I don’t want to hear “You are crazy”, I want to hear “That is great, good for you!”…. that is why I haven’t told my sisters yet that I’m running a marathon next month.
And my mom, my dear mom! I have been sick since Friday, and when she called me from Mexico yesterday, she said to me “maybe your body’s defenses are low because of all the running you have been doing”. I had to quickly change the subject, because I don’t like it when she wants to blame any problems on my running… “you are looking very skinny, it’s your running. You have a runny nose? It must be the running, Your son is sick? it must be the running! Donald Trump is close to winning the primaries, it must be your running”….
Thank you so much for saying that!! And yes, women seem to have this unofficial job of making and keeping everyone happy. I know I feel that way a lot and when, like you say, our friends and family are more critical and less supportive it just gets us angry! And the whole mom thing is pretty much what I go though with my dad. As soon as my husband mentioned it was my training my dad practically begged me to “dial it down.” UGH!!!!
And thanks for the laugh! I think the ONLY thing that could stop me from running is if it could truly stop Donald Trump! LOL!!!
Oh gosh! I’m so glad everything was okay- that is so scary!!
Yes, it’s impossible not to let those comments get to you a little bit. But you know you’re doing what is right for YOU- and you know you have this crazy online community who gets it when no one else does. I don’t have a whole lot of ‘real life’ friends who understand either!
Thank you so much Laura and YES, that goodness for my blogger friends and running community who GET IT. This is why I love this space because everyone has been so supportive and can actually relate to what I’m saying.
So glad to hear you are okay and super healthy!! Scary …. I don’t train nearly at the level you do, but do face criticism with how much I run, time spent in the gym and with my eating habits. I like to think it’s because people just question what they don’t understand or haven’t experienced. I do think some of the hardest things to handle or address, is when people say training must be so easy for me because I don’t have a family (because it’s super easy being mid-30s and single – ha!), or something along the lines of how easy getting a BQ will be for me. Marathon training is tough and difficult for everyone no matter their goal, and I’m not a naturally talented runner; I work hard and have many doubts, fears and struggles, and I often wish people would be more supportive than brush off what I do as “easy” for me! Keep being your awesome self and inspiring people like me!
Thank you so much and yes, I think a lot of it is just not understanding because they don’t do what we do and therefore don’t “get it.” I just love how people dismiss things for you like not having kids, etc. like that matters?? And truly, like you said, just being supportive is key. I don’t need accolades or cheers but just support, that’s it!
Thanks again for your words Kristine, they are appreciated!
You’ve always been an inspiration to me, even though I’ve taken a break from social media for the most part, I loved this post.
I can totally appreciate and relate to all of your words. Even now as I sit here 27 weeks pregnant and teaching a spin class later, I get daily remarks on everything: doing too much, how can I be pregnant, I’m crazy, am I sure I’m pregnant? That’s a good one.
My first major hurdle with this sort of thing was after I had full spinal fusion, then decided to get into triathlons and eventually ironman. Even my doctors were skeptical and everyone just assumed I was crazy, or for those that didn’t know about my back surgery they still judged me for smiling all the time. I got haters for smiling, what is wrong with people???
Everything we do is unique, I’ve accepted that nothing I do is normal and that’s totally fine with me. I love how grateful I am because of the challenges I’ve had.
Yes I still get scary moments, like your chest pains. I had one recently after I had run and did spinning that morning. Being pregnant I panicked and thought maybe I did too much? But luckily after a few deep breaths and a bath it went away. I’m very aware of my heart rate and don’t push myself beyond anything unmanageable. I feel good most of the time and my baby is healthy. Exercising is for my mental health much more than my body.
If I have to look to other women who have been pregnant, then I choose to look at people like you who didn’t let pregnancy put them on the bench.
Focus on the fans and friends, forget about the haters. Your smile is the best!!!
Thank you so much Danielle and I have missed you!! I cannot believe you are almost ready to deliver that HEALTHY baby who has such a smart mama. Keep on doing what you’re doing and thank you for the great advice.
Good luck with everything!!
NOT TO WORRY your pretty little head:) Stuff like this is so common, people whose HR works like a metronome are nearly nonexistent!
I went to Hawaii Ironman 1981 with my Cardiologist teacher @ University, who also happened to be the head of Cardiology at Veteran’s administration. We sat next to each other on the plane and she told me all about my heart irregularities. (I’ve had them all my training life at intervals, they may show up as an isolated episode, then vanish for months, even years?), WTF,O?
She was previously also an advisor on an Olympic committee, and saw 100s of EKGs of the best athletes in the world that showed arrhythmias of all sorts [premature atrial contractions, premature ventricular contractions, flutters, etc.], resulting in palpitations, chest pain; as well as NO manifestations whatsoever, but seen on EKGs.
What brought on our conversation is that my problem at that time was ‘ST segment depression with exercise’ diagnosed by a cardiologist on staff when I was taking the medical to become a Firefighter. They disqualified me because of that, to which she replied ‘They are full of crap’!
Yeah, I went on to complete another 5 Ironmans, multiple marathons, ocean swims, century bike rides, even multiple day adventure races, all over the next 21 years of hard core training. Yeah, I felt AWESOME everyday, even when I was sick as a dog; and yes there were those that questioned and asked- WHY?
WHY?, because I fell awesome, then and now everyday in my 6th decade, because I swim/bike/run with 20 year olds and can shoot the shit with them on their level because they say I’m not the typical 60+ year old, because my resting HR is still 42 in the morning [just like it was in 1981]. This is something plastic surgery can’t buy.
Won’t it be great when you’re snowboarding down the slopes with your GrandKids?
I’d like to see you grow a thicker hide, it’ll be way better for your blood pressure and psychology, Really! You don’t have to be like me who doesn’t give a flying f**k what others think of me, but it would be a great start if you let the trolls just bounce off you!
What would Ronda Rousey say?
“This is something plastic surgery can’t buy” < - - YES 100% to that Claude!!! What an interesting ear you had in that cardiologist on the plane! I would love to chat with docs like that about athletes and their "irregularities." And you are also correct that I need to have a thicker skin - it has been an issue ALL my life. I think 41 years is enough!!! And perhaps What would Ronda say should be a life mantra 🙂 THANK YOU !!!
Oh jeez! that is incredibly scary! I would have gone to the emergency room too! I had to stop reading this at school – 1 because I should have been teaching…oops! 2. I started getting choked up about your mom and cancer. I am terribly sorry about your loss. Losing your mom is a devastating event. I’ve been there too..from cancer as well. And THAT is what woke me up too… focusing on being healthy, happy, fit, chasing after my dreams and living a long life! Hugs to you my friend!
Great message! Do what makes you happy! I love it! And you WILL crush your Tri! Absolutely!
Thanks so much Jen and I’m so sorry about your mom. I read when you touched on that in your last blog post about your son and it’s all just too much. But, at least we have something truly positive from something so ugly – health and happiness and memories of a great mom who we can try an emulate everyday. I know you are doing a GREAT job!! Thanks again – xoxo
Allie, I am so glad you are okay!!! You did the absolute right thing – that is nothing to play around with.
Second, I know it’s hard – but you have to surround yourself with goodness and peel away the layers of the onion that are negative. Peel and then throw it away.
Oh, I could tell you a story or two – perhaps one day over a glass of wine…
But, sometimes “friends” aren’t really your friends and once we realize that (I had a “friend” basically say that how could I be a good Mom if I am training so much?)
Excuse me? My kids are so very important to me – I am ALWAYS there for them – and would you say that to a traditional working Mother?
Peel the onion…
Nat – best.anaology.ever! Peel the onion, peel, peel and peel some more! I absolutely love it.
We WILL have that glass of wine someday but will not waste it by talking about the haters 🙂 At least your one “friend” had the courage to just come out and say that to your face, most of them are much more passive aggressive. And no, they would never say that to a working mom. Pffff.
Thank you so much!!
Oh my gosh! I had no idea you had to go to the ER! I’m so so sorry! But also really happy to hear you were ok. Stomach bugs are the worst and I swear the older I get, the harder they are to kick and get back to normal. I’m so glad you are feeling better!
I am totally with you and people questioning me (hello, I don’t sit there and tell you not to eat a donut!!!). Granted, I don’t train for races like you do but I’ve definitely had people say I do too much, I workout too much, etc. And when I was pregnant, forget it! Everyone had an opinion. Everything I did was “too much.” Although, I think I was pretty darn healthy considering the little nugget didn’t want to get out!
Don’t you just love how opinionated people get when you’re pregnant? Doesn’t it just make you want to have another?? 🙂 Thanks Brittany. I know you totally understand!
So glad you are ok and there is never anything wrong with getting checked out. I definitely get the pressure from my family that I am doing to much and pushing my body too hard. It can be frustrating because without it we wouldn’t be us!!! Keep on doing what you do and be happy!
Oh I will!! Thank you Sandra 🙂
I started reading your most recent post and had to come right here to find out what happened – so glad you are okay, Allie! I’m with you – I care what people think, but I do know that I’m the best judge of what is right for me. I find your selfies inspiring, and your smile makes me smile.
Can’t wait to see that smile in person!
Thanks so much Dana!
I’m so looking forward to meeting you – hehehehe 🙂
I missed this post and I’m so glad that everything is OK! Yes, definitely never Google your symptoms but also there’s no harm in getting something checked out to be sure. And yes to everything you said about people preaching at you and questioning everything. My mom does it all the time and there’s a part of me that wants to say to her that part of the reason I do what I do is because of my dad and because I want to be healthy for a long time to come. And as much as we may have a thick skin because we blog and put parts of our lives out there, it’s hard to ignore all the comments sometime. But you (and we) are doing what makes us happy and I think that’s the big difference.
Exactly! Thank you Christine. And, I think it’s especially hard when it comes from a parent. My dad does only from time to time but I know it’s from a very loving place. And yes, there is a massive difference in doing what makes us happy and tuning the rest out. Onward!