Updated: Apr 9, 2021
Mindset, motivation and multiple sports, the Tri Me Tapes are the audio journal of an amateur athlete, Abi Dawson.
Seeking a new challenge and an opportunity to improve her mindset Abi made the commitment to try new sports and compete.
Initially, she identified triathlon as a true test of grit, physicality and most importantly mental fortitude.
Join Abi and her partner in crime Matt as they discuss the journey to competition, the highs, the lows and lessons learnt along the way.
In this tape of Tri-Me Tapes Podcast, we reflect on the early adaptation of Abi’s training, her mindset towards training and understanding her injury better.
If you are a new listener to The Tri Me Tapes, we would love to hear from you. Please visit our Facebook Page and share your athletic adventures!
In this episode, we discuss:
00:36 Injury update - bike training - Ramp up Training session
05:00 Workout reflection, strength, HIIT + bike all in one session
06:33 Self-talk / training mantras
09:30 Joining a gym for the first and excuses not to train
10:40 Preconceived gym misconceptions
11:05 Runners Knee
15:48 Bike fit
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Matt: Welcome to the Tri-Me tapes, ooh sound a bit bored. Welcome to the Tri-Me tapes. an audio journal of an amateur athlete. I'm Matt, she's Abi.
Welcome to the Tri-Me tapes, an audio journal of an amateur athlete. I'm Matt,
Abi: and I'm Abi.
Matt: And we're here to discuss Abi's athletic adventures.
Straight into it? Last time we talked about all the gear, Tri-Me tape number four.
Abi: At this point, I had been injured and every time that I tried to participate in the running that I was programmed, the injury just kept getting in the way and I didn't want to make it any worse.
So I spoke with Jimmy, my coach, and we decided to go straight into focusing on the biking aspect, which. Previously, I didn't have much experience of. So I was kind of getting used to the bike outdoors. Because it was wintertime, as well as lots of sort of endurance & interval training that you can do indoors if you have access to an indoor bike or like a turbo trainer or something like that.
Matt: Yeah, So do you want to describe the session that you did?
Abi: This was my first one. So if you are maybe like into a little bit of CrossFit, or if you've got a, I'm a member of a gym that's really into Concept2 rowers or ski-ergs or bike ergs. My gym that I work at, we just purchased the bike-erg, version of Concept2 we thought it was a gift from God, but actually
Matt: what's different about a bike-erg, a concept to bike-erg, compared to other bikes you might find in a gym.
Abi: I think it's deceiving. So you, you start spinning and you think that your legs are all good. And it's literally, maybe like 40 seconds later and your legs are full of lactic acid and you just don't feel like you've got any drive left, but because you haven't got anything else to kind of help you with momentum.
You basically sat stuck on the bike. Just static. Yeah.
Matt: Using all your power.
Abi: Yeah. And it hasn't got any kind of difference in cogs that you would have.
Matt: No it's fan resistance. Isn't it?
Abi: Yeah, If you had, so say on my road bike in comparison, I could switch gears and have it on the highest chainring. And then my cadence would be a little bit higher, but this is obviously,
Matt: a little bit easier on the legs.
Abi: Yeah, this is quite a small cadency.
It likes to spin it as hard as you want to put the work in.
Matt: So, yeah. Tell us about a session then.
Abi: And this was after a, a strength session and I'd previously said that my strength sessions had been slightly unique to what I'd previously experienced in terms of lower intensity, maybe higher volume. So straight off the back of that, I decided to do this training session, which was called a ramp-up session.
You just had to start off with the resistance low and then every two minutes, increase the resistance,
Matt: on the front of the wheel
Abi: And I was always training to wattage on the bikes. So the power output of something. So I had to be very specific on how hard I was peddling to try and get the numbers to match. And then meanwhile, also trying to keep a steady cadence.
So trying to keep your yeah.
Matt: What was more important in that training? The wattage were you constantly hitting a wattage or were you constantly hitting and RPM was,
Abi: Erm wattage
Matt: it was wattage, you have had training where you worried about RPM as well. Didn't you? Yeah. Right.
Abi: As different because obviously if you want to train kind of speed and trying to get your muscles to recruit a little bit faster so that if you were maybe on like a flat or downhill, you could get your legs spinning quicker.
Whereas if you're like, yeah, Looking to go for power. It doesn't really matter how quickly your legs are spinning per se, but more the efficiency of the drive.
Matt: I See. How long did it go for it? Like why ramp up every two minutes? You're going up a level, but there's only like eight levels. Isn't there?
Abi: Yeah. So it was the first time that I'd experienced an endurance session where instantly something hurt kind of like if you went out running straight away, like the first 20 minutes its going to be gruelling.
And this is the first time I've actually. Well, I could recall me having that same feeling on a bike.
Matt: Right. It was just hard as hell.
Abi: Just hard as hell, but like as well, just the mindset of it, of so many things going on in your head being like, you're not fit enough. You're not gonna be able to complete this like, get off, or you got so much, so much time left.
It was just, it's
Matt: interesting that you say like the mindset of it there because the quote that I liked from this was. I didn't mention that I'd already had a 45-minute strength and conditioning session as well as a 20 minute HIIT session. Right now. I find that interesting because did you know you were going to do this session?
Matt: And, but you still did a strength and conditioning workout and a 20 minute HIIT and then needed this session. Was that always planned?
Abi: Uh, the strength session was planned before the bike, which was common throughout my training. Yeah, but the HIIT was an extra,
Matt: just a billy bonus.
Abi: It was a billy bonus.
Matt: like you said it was the first time you've had to do an endurance on the, on the bike.
Do you think that doing the HIIT workout was. Bad idea.
Matt: Would you advise against your older self?
Abi: I don't know, like. I think because it was quite at the beginning, I wasn't putting myself under any kind of detrimental regression by doing so. Certainly, if I was doing it later on in my training and I was near a race, it would have been really stupid thing to do, but kind of.
It was a bit more like of a warm-up, I guess.
Abi: So I think I was probably really, really tired. I maybe could have pushed myself a little bit harder, but it was all kind of just first stage experiences.
Matt: Yeah. So let's talk through the process that you've written at the end of your blog here. Tell me these points and how you had to lean on them or you, or how you had to go through them.
Abi: It's almost over, you have nothing more to complete today. The pain is not getting any worse. So you just, it's just there. You just got to accept it. Control your breathing. And then at the end of it, like after those comments have just been cycling over my head of maybe trying to create some sort of like mantra of just zoning out, I'd finished it.
Matt: So that was it. You cycled it almost over, you have nothing else to complete today. The pain is not getting any worse, except it, control your breathing, back over. It's almost over. And that's what you said to yourself in this session.
Abi: Yeah, pretty much, pretty much. I still use those techniques now, especially the one, it's almost over.
Matt: It's almost over.
Abi: It's almost over. Like, I say, I always say now if I'm doing sets of something and I've got five sets first one's great. Second one is horrible. Third one is the worst. Fourth is brilliant. Five is just the end.
Matt: You're done.
Abi: Yeah, you're done.
Matt: So, because you're so close, you might as well just finish it.
Matt: No other outcome.
Abi: Yeah. So I kind of split my, whatever I'm doing split up into those kinds of sets, even if it's like a longer endurance session or interval session. And yeah, if I'm, and I'll try and get my head around those processes and know that by the middle, I'm going to actually hate it.
Matt: You're gonna have that trough in the middle.
Matt: Everything you do, there's always a trough.
Abi: Yeah. So that'd be the halfway point. So if it was a, if it was a 40 minute session, it's going to be the 20 minutes where I'm going to think. I want to stop
Matt: Before you start the session. Any session. Throughout this whole journey of becoming the athlete you want to be.
Do you consider that lowest point of your training session before you start your training sessions?
Abi: Yeah, I don't think I just solely like fixate on it, but I certainly write out my programs and I will try and just think about how hard or how bad I'm going to feel in that moment. But I don't, if I fixated on it, then I think I would lose motivation.
Matt: Yeah, you just, you wouldn't want to do the session cos you'd already decided to that.
Abi: Yeah. Um, this is maybe going off a little bit too far, but definitely during the latter stages of my triathlon training, like there were certainly some sessions that it took me a good half a day to psych myself up to get on the bike because I know that it was just going to be a world of pain.
Matt: Yeah right. So before you started training for triathlon, have you ever come across, having to develop that mindset prior, is this a skill that you had before you started this? Or is this something that you've learned as you've gone
Abi: I've throughout training? Cos I've been in the gym for maybe like two years of actually properly training in a gym doing resistance training.
Um, I actually like pushing myself past those limits and feeling that sense of achievement at the end of something that's but those
Matt: you have to getpoints to come out of them.
Abi: Yeah. When we first started going to the gym together and I wasn't exactly sure. Um, self motivated to go and do it through various reasons. I probably would have thought about it a little bit more and thought about the reasons why I wouldn't want to put myself through it.
Abi: Maybe even like, Oh, I wouldn't want someone to think that I'm not fit or I wouldn't want someone to like laugh,or.
Matt: So you'd rather not try. If someone was in the gym and they saw you and I thought, Oh God, she can't ...
Abi: I really have that mindset yet.
Matt: Have you?
Matt: Do you still have that now?
Matt: I'm gonna jump on that. Reasons not to train with me when we first started? Because you had the advantage of naivety in the gym that you didn't know what I was going to get us to do.
Every time we went in, there was a program that we kind of cycled through, but we often went off piest. So yeah. What were those reasons not to come to the gym with me?
Abi: Oh, pure like pure anxiety, a bit of laziness.
Matt: Were you aware of the benefits of joining a gym?
Abi: Um, no, I guess I wasn't, I think previously with like strength training, I had that same thought process that like lots of other girls would think and think that they're going to get big and bulky.
And, uh, I didn't want that to happen to me.
Matt: You could deal with it with just with salads.
Abi: Yeah. And I'd been involved in hockey. So I actually thought I was like fairly fit.
Matt: Yeah. Just that sort of running around that cardio.
Matt: Yeah, right. Well we're running around. I guess we can talk about your next blog.
Matt: Runner's knee.
Abi: So this was when the knee got so bad that I had to go and see health care professionals to make sure that there was no real damage.
Matt: What was your biggest worry there?
Abi: Um, tore my meniscus.
Matt: You, you were worried that it was a tear in there.
Abi: Yeah. There was a tear in that and that it would take a while to repair and the worst thing about it is that I'd committed to the training. I've told everyone what I was going to do. I basically hurt myself before it even got started. So I'd have been really disappointed. Had that had turned out to be.
Matt: like a long term surgery 6months recovery,
Abi: but then again, I think I was trying to adopt the mindset that I wanted out of the whole process of being like, this has happened I've got to deal with it and we can move on.
Matt: Yeah, yeah, because that's basically why you've come into this venture. It wasn't to be an all star triathlete. It was to give you better approaches to life in general, by regularly training and overcoming all the mindset and sort of being more aware of.
Challenges overcoming challenges,
Abi: I think. Yeah. There's yeah. The tools to accept and overcome.
Matt: That's good. Yeah. I like finding little quotes in here that kind of sum up stuff for me in these however, boring and frustrating it might be, I am completely aware of the necessity for every bit of advice I've been given to improve my symptoms and get back to being fighting fit.
Abi: The only reason that I'm like that now is because of my profession.
Abi: Otherwise, I wouldn't bother just like everybody else. No, not, no, not knowing better, but more like, no, I don't think, I don't think I'm like that. I don't think that some that I personality, but I think it is more like, I don't see the initial,
Matt: Like a quick result,
Abi: A quick result. And so like it's pointless. It's not doing anything.
Matt: Like people doing body weight exercises at the gym, they feel like they're doing anything cause they could do at home.
Abi: Yeah. Pretty much,
Matt: Pretty much. So you're now enlightened because you're a massage therapist and personal trainer
Abi: and corrective exercise. It's pretty much, it's pretty much the answer to everything. Unless there is, you need a surgical procedure to fix something.
Matt: Yeah Exactly. So that was runner's knee!
Abi: Yeah. Which is a bit of both. It's a bit of rehab, but it's also rest,
Abi: Because it's an inflammation and runners knee covers, like it's an umbrella term basically for something that's wrong with your knee.
Matt: Yeah. Your knee is sore, runner knee.
Is it the same with tennis elbow?
Abi: Uh, yeah, kinda it turns out was, again, it's like an RSI it's an inflammation of the tendon that's overused, which needs to be rested. And then you can also do corrective exercises to gain a little bit better movement because with anything, if you've got injury, like if you're trying to keep it still don't move it. Thats the worst thing you can do.
Matt: Yeah. Well, I think we've said that in the last ones didn't we, don't sit still. So what did you do? What was your corrective exercises? What were you doing to make this runner's knee better? Apart from rest.
Abi: So it would be a lot of stability exercises, um, is a really good one, which I would even do now just as a great exercise for anybody, because it's good to facilitate ankle mobility and also create a little bit of stress on the knee.
So standing at a point on one leg and then your other foot is going to reach forward and touch a spot. So you'd have to do kind of like a small squat with the other leg to reach the other leg forward, bring it back to the middle. And then you're going to go out to the sides, like a, almost like a lateral lunge, but again, you're trying to keep your centre of gravity straight down. So you're not leaning over. It's just a tap with a toe on there on the next point on the one on the right or the left, and then bring it back to the middle. And then back over to behind you again, like you've got to distribute your weight a little bit, so leaning yourself forward, but it's really controlling and it stabilizes or the knee stabilized.
Matt: So that's reach toe reach toe touch forward. Yeah. To the side and to the back. Yeah. How low are you allowed to squat?
Abi: As far as you can, as far as you can control it, obviously the more you squat, the more stress you're putting onto the leg. Yeah. But if you start off small, it's good. And then you can also do it from a step as well. So you create a little bit more of a deficit.
Matt: Can you do it to Country and Western music, little bit of line dancing?
Abi: Yeah if you want.
Matt: Yeah. Nice. Okay. Um,
Abi: things like, um, single leg Romanian deadlifts, lots of just stabilizing exercises so that you're not necessarily being explosive on, it's more of the control. Just trying to get those muscles to fire and ligaments to strengthen
Bike fit. What were you doing in this blog?
Abi: I think this was when I'd first got my road bike and it sat in the hallway for a good few weeks. Um, after I bought it, because one, I was too scared to ride it. And two, my coach said that he would fit the bike for me. Um, before I tried to ride it and I didn't want with my knee, I didn't want anymore bloody injuries. So I waited so we could book an appointment so that he would watch me pedal, uh, and sit properly on the bike so that he can adjust small parts of the bike that would fit me better so that I was more efficient and didn't hurt myself.
Matt: Yeah. What did he find when you did the fitting?
Abi: It was a man's bike, but the frame was perfect size for me.
But the handlebars were a little bit too far forward. So the stem was just slightly too long. Uh, which meant that I was leaning way too far, that I wouldn't be where my center of gravity was. And so I wouldn't have much control on the, on the bike, especially if I was trying to turn or go around a corner.
Matt: Would that also put like strain on your shoulders and arms a little bit more on your lower back?
Matt: Quite a stretch.
Abi: Yeah. So there's a tendency to think that like, leaning really far forward is a good position for you to be on, on your bike,
Matt: Yeah quite aggressive,
Abi: Which I'm not saying it isn't especially.
Well, it's more so if you're like a pro and kind of trying to be a little bit more aerodynamic, but you definitely don't want to encourage like a flexion in your spine whilst doing long rides, you should still try and maintain like having that flat straight back and then kind of leaning what will be to do with how your sit bones are on the saddle. And so your pelvis can kind of rotate a little bit more comfortably rather than your spine during the rotation.
Matt: I see. So that brings us onto a saddle.
Matt: you, um, you got through some saddles, didn't you?
Abi: Yeah! Lots of people who don't really ride bikes very often they get on a bike and they think, oh, go for that little ride. Come home and they're like, Oh my God. So one, yeah you do have to get used to it a little bit. Like, that's just the, kind of the part of the process. Um, but yeah, you need to find a seat that is suitable for you.
Matt: Yeah. I mean, you did all that research. You got recommended a brand. You bought the ISM.
Matt: Saddle and it still really hurt you
Abi: Didn't because I didn't turn a size or anything either.
So I haven't measured. Yeah. I think I bought it was, I think it was too narrow to be fair. It was just the way it was sad. It was, it was quite firm and yeah, the way I sat, I wasn't at this point, uh, very, uh, let's say aggressive style, more like upright. So yeah, it just didn't sit properly. And I had to go on it, which again, wasn't like, Oh, just have a little go, it was, I'll do a whole session, uh, sitting there watching Karate Kid. And I think I got up and I was almost crying.
Matt: You didn't look very happy at all.
Abi: No, it was horrible, but I had to finish a session. So
Matt: Had to finish the session! But that just shows, doesn't it? That, uh, all the research, you bought the one that everyone had recommended, but we've mentioned in the podcast before, about how to do your sit bone measurements.
If you had done those sit bone measurements, you might have bought the correct size, or it might be that you're just your body doesn't suit that saddle. There's a strong possibility that it wouldn't have mattered if you got it. Exactly the right size, just hurt. So, yeah, I guess buying a saddle, you need to be patient that you might not get the right one first time.
Abi: Yeah I think there's some things that you just can't really buy on the internet.
And I think that's probably one of them.
Abi: Like I did it in the end, which this one has helped, but I still don't think it's perfect for me.
Abi: And I think it was like, bargain one. Yeah. I have a good range.
Matt: Its the bottom end of a good range. Still a good saddle though, specialized right?
Abi: Yes, specialized. Uh, it's got, um, like a soft part to the channel that's supposed to, what's the word? Like ...
Matt: Distribute the weight, isn't it?
Abi: No, it's like copy or soft tissue basically.
Matt: Uh, okay. Much better.
Matt: So that's three blogs, Switch a Roo, Runner's Knee & Bike Fit. Tri-Me tape number four.
Abi: Yeah. Hope you got a little bit of insight into the beginning of my training really.
Matt: Yeah, lots of bike on this one wasn't there sort of, but then again, that's because of the runner's knee. Yeah. So it will make sense. You didn't stop because of the runner’s knee. Yeah. Changed it up and got on the bike.
Abi: Yeah. I would have still been swimming at this point as well. So,
Matt: um, we didn't really mention that at all the swim, but just taken for granted that the pools were open and you were in them swimming.
Matt: Cool. End tape four?
Abi: End tape four
Abi: Thank you for listening to the Tri-Me tapes. Don't forget to subscribe, to hear the rest of the tapes. If you'd like to give a review, please head to your podchaser.com or to share your athletic adventure. Join us on Facebook at facebook.com/trimesport.
Matt: I can't do it. Just can't do it. Maybe you can do it.
Abi: Um, what am i saying?