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Tri-Me Tape 106

Updated: Apr 11, 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-MeTapes Podcast, we discuss Abi’s journey with diets, body image, nutrition and overcoming negative self-talk. We establish priorities and what the goal was. Is she doing this to be a top athlete, look better or develop a resilient mindset? Can you have it all?

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:

00:45 Body image & diet

02:45 Inbody physique monitoring system

04:52 TrainingPeaks App - Stress Score

05:50 Food tracking + nutrition around work

09:09 Carbs and what matters to Abi

10:22 Extra strength training

14:14 Training paddies & negative self-talk

18:56 Creating space to grow mental resilience … don’t dwell on it

19:55 Bike & swimming training

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Matt: There's loads in this one. New year, new me. Of all sorts to ask you.

Abi: That's my intro.

Matt: Yeah?

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.

Abi: Tri-Me Tape Six.

Matt: Tri-Me tape Six.

Abi: Tri-Me Tape six. We're gonna be introducing, new year, new me.

Matt: I want to go straight for

Abi: No, he's found something that's going to ridicule me, rip me apart.

Matt: Visually. I look no fatter than I did at the beginning of my training. New year, new me and we're onto analyzing the body. So visually you didn't look any fatter.

Abi: I think what happened is obviously Christmas and the intensity of my training had picked up. So I had tried to put more energy into my body via,

Matt: Okay. I see what you were trying to fuel the machine.

Abi: Yeah. And maybe not eating the right things, just because there's quite a big focus on sort of upping your energy intake if your energy expenditure is higher, you need to feel the body basically. So I had never experienced endurance training. So I was a little bit unsure of what sources to go for, but I thought that because my training felt very intense that I could kind of eat what I want, but it wasn't the case.

Matt: So the cliche of new year, new me. This blog is about, your diet and your nutrition then,

Abi: A little bit, I think I was shocked because it reversed sort of what I was normally used to with the gym training of having a little bit more muscle and a little bit less fat.

Matt: Right.

Abi: And then with endurance training, and obviously not having any that resistance training then my muscle retention had dropped off because I would probably wasn't eating enough protein, you know, fueling by eating carbohydrates, but maybe not the right carbohydrates.

Matt: Right.

Abi: So more processed foods that are just kind of turning sugary.

Matt: So when you got on the In-Body scales, that was what the shock was. That's

Abi: So In-Body is a scanner that uses electronic signals that then track through the body and can distribute your body composition into muscle mass, body fat and basically water.

Matt: Yeah.

Abi: Yeah. I've been tracking monthly for about two years, maybe even a bit longer since we had the scanner. And so, yeah, it was quite a big change when I'd been putting in the work. And it was really disheartening because I think I like.

Matt: Do you think to be less body fat? Did you expect to be thinner because you were training pretty much seven days a week and long endurance sessions of at least an hour ago? Sometimes twice a day?

Abi: Yeah. And like I said, I didn't look at, I don't feel like I looked any different which you probably wouldn't with a small percentage of change. But I was just a little bit annoyed because, well, when I was going to the gym, like that's kind of a big factor for, it was a big factor for me to like look better, which means that I wanted a little bit more muscles. So I'd have a little bit more like definition and less body fat because it's kind of like

Matt: Expected as needed.

Abi: Yeah.

Matt: Kind of drop the body fat look better.

Abi: Yeah, I think it was at this point where I had to think about what the goal was because I'd spoken to Jimmy about it and said, like, he's not normal. Like should I be worried or am I doing something wrong? And he just said that, to be honest, with the type of training that I'm focusing on now, which I was doing, that it was likely that I would lose muscle.

Matt: Right.

Abi: Because if you look at an endurance athlete compared to a strength athlete, like no, they have got less muscle like it's all compact, isn't it?

Matt: Yeah. So different, like density make-up, I guess is probably the best way to put it. Isn't it?

Abi: Yeah.

Matt: So that leads on to how you are tracking your progress then. And you talk about using the training stress score. That was as a training peaks number?

Abi: Yes, a number with the app. It registers all of your training and then it tells you how fit you are. So like the progression of your performances. And then it has a scale of how fatigued you are based on like the lengths and your heart rate and the duration of your training. So then it kind of gives you an overall score of.

Matt: Did he take your sleep into account as well through the watch?

Abi: Not through that app,

Matt: But that's obviously something to consider.

Abi: Yeah.

Matt: Is sleep.

Abi: Yeah. A big part of recovery, which mostly it wasn't very good at this point because just a difference to stimulus of training being endurance based. I kind of was maybe a bit overtired, over-trained a little bit.

Matt: So one of the outcomes of these results and your stress level, your TSS was that you were going to food track again.

Abi: Yeah.

Matt: Do you still food track now?

Abi: No, I don't know because I actually did. I did it for quite long period towards the end of the triathlon training and in the transition to what I'm doing now. I wanted to make sure that I was a bit more focused on what I needed and nutrition wise and hitting all those macros and micros. Had a good knowledge of what sorts of foods to go for.

Matt: Yeah.

Abi: But at this period of time as well in

Matt: Post-Christmas?

Abi: No, I'm talking about right now. So during the lockdown of COVID, there are obviously lots of different stresses and I was making food, one of them and I didn't want to be fixated on my calorie count.

Matt: Right.

Abi: So I removed that stress.

Matt: That's is why you're not tracking.

Abi: No, no. I just removed the temptations.

Matt: Right. So with the food tracking that you started in January, new year, new me food tracking, I imagine millions of people who start that in January. What outcomes did you find over the next few weeks or months of tracking your food?

Did you notice that you weren't getting enough protein or was that like something deficient or were you eating too much sugar maybe?

Abi: Way too much, way too much sugar show as I like cookies, it was just, it's like, you know, when you're tired and you resort to the same comfort food, it was like that. And I was just doing it way too often. Yeah, pretty much that probably not eating at the right time. I think my job is quite difficult to fuel and replenish at the right times because you kind of have to train when everybody else is not.

Matt: Yeah. So what were your hours and how is that affecting your nutrition and your diet?

Abi: Where I'd have like early shifts or late shifts. So it'd be early. It would be at the gym from 6 till 11. So then I'd probably train after that which would probably be on very limited sleep and then

Matt: You've eaten before work?

Abi: Yeah.

Matt: Okay.

Abi: Really early, like five.

Matt: Five in the morning.

Abi: Which would be like a bowl of porridge.

Matt: And then what do you eat before you train after work at 11

Abi: At lunch?

Matt: You'd have it before you train?

Abi: After.

Matt: After.

Abi: Yeah. But my training session could be like up to two hours because I would had, I would have strength & bike.

Matt: Pretty much porridge and a snack all the way through till one.

Abi: Yeah. And then, yeah, for lunch, maybe something like eggs or something like that yeah. So I wasn't eating poorly, maybe not enough of the right thing. And then just because it was quick to get food, like quick snacks of like sugary stuff eat in that, and then maybe panicking a little bit before I got to the gym, because I would be then going back for four o'clock or five o'clock and then not getting home until half past nine.

I didn't really want my dinner then. So panicking a little bit before then just thinking like I've got to eat some things, so maybe forcing something or then leaving it way too long, coming home, and then just being ravenous and just wanting the easiest first thing there.

Matt: Yeah. But there's not really a lot. I mean, you can, you've definitely changed your diet now, and you're a lot more open to sort of different carbs and things to give you the energy for longer. But when you get back in the gym, you're going to have to tackle that again and think a little bit more pragmatic.

Abi: Yeah. And I'm planning, just cooking something and just putting out a pots of it's easy to go, but I don't think I eat that differently now. I think I'm a little bit more lenient with like, the process foods that I allow myself to have, that are not going to be detrimental to my performance. So for example, I love bagels and I'll eat them every day and that would be every day. But then I'd be aware that that's my crappy carb.

Matt: Right.

Abi: So then in the morning I'd have porridge, that's good oats with almond milk. And then in the evening I'll have good carbs. So I'll have like rice or sweet potato. And then I, like, I might have like something carby snacky wise and like, between that time as well, which would be like crumpets or something.

Matt: So that tracking was just an accountability thing. It didn't really reveal any horrifying.

Abi: No, I think I was eating quite a lot of carbs.

Matt: Right.

Abi: Yeah.

Matt: And interestingly at the end of this blog, you tell me, you decided to increase your strength training.

Abi: Yeah.

Matt: Why?

Abi: Because I was fat.

Matt: New year, new me. She put herself on a food tracking app. She looked her fatigue levels and then she decided she was fat. So she was going to do more strength training.

Abi: It just annoyed me

Matt: Sounds like a lot of people's new year's resolutions.

Abi: So I based my experience a little bit on other people who have maybe pursued a similar sort of what I was going for.

Matt: Right.

Abi: So I didn't want to turn out to be like a skinny endurance athlete because I didn't want to be the best triathlete in the world.

Matt: Right.

Abi: So at this point I was thinking, what do I really want? I want to maintain my strength and I want to be okay at triathlon at the end of it. And someone like, you know, Ross Edgely, he is an amazing endurance athlete and he is tank like, he is massive. So why can't I do both? So I understand Jimmy's process, absolutely that I was trying to focus on one thing and I don't want to stress myself out by putting more stress on my body, unnecessarily when I'm trying to develop a certain skill, but this was important to me. So I took it upon myself to just increase my weight training.

Matt: Yeah. For me, it was like an interesting process because from the outside it could look like, again, one of these things where you could know better, and I know that's not your mindset, you could know better. So you're going to do it. And it could have backfired and resulted in more injury, but actually you justified why you wanted to do it because you introspectively looked up why you were doing the triathlon training in the first place. And it was because you wanted to achieve something and you wanted to try something, try me and strength training you enjoyed, and it gave you the results you wanted.

Abi: Yeah.

Matt: So you did it.

Abi: I think it's an important midpoint to my reflection of it of to draw it back and think of why I was doing it and what I actually wanted from it. Because I think it would have been easy for me to get a bit lost in the process and try and attain something that I wasn't really looking to get.

Matt: Yeah. That wasn't you.

Abi: Yeah. I could have asked for numbers, like I could have asked for, I could have looked online and seen times to try and aim for. And there certainly was a point where I was a little bit more into that and it made me horrible.

Matt: Yeah.

Abi: I was quite negative about my abilities in that moment when I had no clue on what I was comparing myself to anyway. So I didn't want to go down that path because it wasn't what I wanted. It wasn't, it wasn't the focus.

Matt: It defeats the whole purpose of what you said in tape one about changing your attitudes and stuff like that?

Abi: Yeah. So yeah, it was more of what did I want? It's not like I was a novice. I'm qualified personal trainer, so I knew how my strength training would affect me. So I didn't, it wasn't like I was loading the bar massively. It was just that, I was including a little bit more compound moves in my strength training. I didn't really add any added one session a week if I was adding more. But otherwise, I was just inputting a little bit more into the training that I was given by Jimmy.

Matt: Strong start to the new year.

Abi: Yeah.

Matt: Coming in full swing.

Abi: Stepping up the game and overview of basically an increase in the intensity of my training by increasing distances and time training as well. Still taking a break from running at this point, but I would have been doing 30 kilometers on the bike every session and 2k swim every session. Yeah.

Matt: I really liked this, but get out of my head. It seems to be the phrase. I choose to scream at myself when trying to maintain an average of 171 to 189 wattage on the bikerg,

Abi: At level four for six minutes

Matt: At level four for six minutes multiple times.

Abi: Yeah, I would have had a few paddies during this stage. I can actually remember these quite

Matt: Do you want to share a paddy with us?

Abi: What a paddy was? So if so, let's say the session was this wattage for six minutes. So you're paddling pretty hard, but it's controlled. So it's actually more difficult to not push as hard and maintain it because you want to try and keep it in, like in the realm of the wattage.

Matt: Right. Putting more effort makes it easier to ride.

Abi: So it's for a long duration and then I would have had a break eased off and then had to try and hit that same marker again.

Matt: Right.

Abi: And that would have probably been main like four to six to eight times that we'll have to do that. So trying to get out of my head, the pain that I felt during the first or second round, I think, and I've got do this. Like I think I had to do it 11 times once it wasn't six minutes, but it was like four minutes. And it was usually, I was trying to maintain that wattage.

Matt: It was like a mental boxing match. It wasn't about the physicality.

Abi: It was just unreal. I'm like this part here, like the main part of my training, I would have been doing it wrong, so I say wrong, but it was wrong so,

Matt: All right. So this, at this stage of training you are using levels on the bike. Yeah. And not heart rate levels, which you were supposed to use.

Abi: So the levels on the bike would have been associated with how hard you would have found it, which you would have then associated with your heart rate.

Matt: Your heart rate. Right?

Abi: So if my heart rate was in zone four, it would have been fairly high, but I'd have to try and maintain that heart rate during the session. But if I'm pushing too hard on the bike, it means my heart rate is gonna be, well above zone four, and I'm trying to keep it in a zone that's through the roof, which I did like, and I probably resorted to me feeling like crap a little bit, because it's not great for you to train that way for such a long period of time. But in the end, my zones matched up with me doing it wrong anyway, so yeah, win, win.

Matt: Everyone wins. So how often do you think these paddies were these becoming an excuse?

Abi: No, but do you remember what I said that when I thought of a bike session, like, I didn't want to do it. It wasn't that I didn't want to do it. It was the fact that I couldn't finish it.

Matt: Yeah.

Abi: That I didn't want to start it, but I had experienced a couple of sessions where I actually got off the bike and stopped and just been like, I can't do are literally, this is like killing me and then. Like, as your fitness grows, your recovery time gets quicker. So then I'd stop the heavy breathing and just think

Matt: I'm good to go again.

Abi: Good to go.

Matt: Let's get back on this

Abi: It is so temporary this pain, like you just get back on it and just do it and finish it. And you get like, such a sense of achievement doing that. And if I can make that period shorter of me, like stopping and getting and trying again that was progress for me.

Matt: Yeah. And no one ever teaches you that having the paddy feeling better. Getting back on it is like a gradual process. Like that's almost your recovery time allowed you to get back on the bike and you have to get off the bike to learn that. And they don't, no one ever talks about that. When they talk about athletic development, they don't talk about the points where you push to the point that you can't complete it.

But then when you stop for a second, have a little word with yourself and get back in. Cause you've calmed your heart rate down. That's another bit of progression because that time off the kit back on get shorter and shorter until you don't have to get off.

Abi: Yeah. I mean, how many athletes would have experienced that. And especially with like their coach, their coaches, you know, they're gonna have an argument. They're going to disagree with something or the athletes go for like, they've been pushed too far. They're going to lash out. And then after that kind of explosive emotional outburst, they're going to say. Are you done? Like you get to go and then they'll be like, yep, I'm good to go. And it's all kind of past it's out of the way. And you can carry on like, get a better headspace

Matt: Knowing you the way I know you, did you beat yourself up for having those emotional lash outs?

Abi: At the start? Yeah.

Matt: So you thought that was failure by being frustrated at the process?

Abi: Yeah. And let myself get in my head.

Matt: But actually you had to do that to get out of your head.

Abi: Yeah. I think that translates with a lot of things, which is one of the biggest learning processes I think I've had through the whole experience of not dwelling on something or not dragging something out.

Matt: Right.

Abi: So like, it might be an argument with you or like with somebody and then it kind of having that period of like awkwardness or like silence to see who's gonna break first or yeah. Or like the guilt where you're just a bit like quiet in the corner. It's like, you need to then accept it. Like, bring it up, talk about it. Or like completely sweep it under the carpet, like move on from it, because you're just wasting time.

Matt: Yeah. Yeah, that's a good lesson, learnt. So what else was going on at this time? You were on your bike a bit more turbo training. So you were out on your bike on the road, occasionally. You were using the bikerg at the gym to replace your running. And then you were using the turbo trainer at home when the weather wasn't suitable to ride.

Abi: Yeah. So the turbo trainer, I had one of the Wahoo Elemnt for Christmas, which is very nice present of you. Thank you very much. This recorded your speed and the cadence so that I could track basically some training intervals rather than just trying to do it off of how I felt. Which is fine, like you can do that, but it's, I don't think I can maintain such intensity with how I feel either going way too hard or like not backing off and just being not the place that I need to be out my heart rate wise.

Yeah. I think I was getting a little bit more confident on the bike. Definitely, I'm feeling a little bit more feeling fitter and more powerful, which gave me the confidence to be out on the road, as well. This was probably a good mark time that I thought I was progressing quite well, especially in like swimming.

I could like put together all of the techniques that I was being taught and asked to do in the pool and put it together with the freestyle of just swimming, like, normally using those techniques, which was quite nice. Like I think sometimes when you're doing something stupid, especially feeling like, in a public pool when everyone's looking at you.

Matt: Yeah, you're not just going up and down doing some weird side stroke thing

Abi: You got to trust the process haven't you? And so someone knows what they're doing. He's broken up all the skills to make you better and yeah, just got to get it done.

Matt: So that's pretty good. You know, given the blog before new year, new me, you were quite critical of your body, of your training, of your diet. Seven, eight days later, you're happy with what you're doing on the bike and in the pool. Absolutely. Winning at triathlon training.

Abi: Yeah.

Matt: Yeah. Tape six. End!

Abi: END.

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 or to share your athletic adventure. Join us on Facebook at

This is why we don't have to do so many takes because it's just keep, get... it's going to get more and more. You can just pull something out of that.

Matt: Yeah.

Abi: Yeah.

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